Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979)

R  |   |  Drama  |  5 September 1980 (USA)
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Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce MacDonald ...
Maggie Renzi ...
Maggie Cousineau ...
Jean Passanante ...
Karen Trott ...
Marisa Smith ...
Amy Schewel ...
Carolyn Brooks ...
Eric Forsythe ...
Nancy Mette ...


The Secaucus 7 of the film's title are seven friends who, during their college days, were arrested in New Jersey on their way to a protest in Washington. The film takes place ten years after all that, as the friends gather at the home of Mike and Katie, now schoolteachers in New Hampshire, bringing with them old problems and new: Maura has left Jeff and seeks consolation with his best friend, J.T.; J.T., arguably the least successful of the friends, finally gets the courage to move to Los Angeles to start a career as a songwriter; Irene brings her new boyfriend along, hoping he'll like and be liked by her friends and expecting them to challenge him for his more-conservative politics; and more. This is the film that inspired "The Big Chill." Written by Gary Dickerson <>

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Release Date:

5 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Return of the Secaucus 7  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$60,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film appeared on many television, newspaper and magazine critics Top Ten lists for the year 1980 including 'Time', Roger Ebert's 'Sneak Previews', 'The Los Angeles Times' and 'The New York Times'. The film also appeared in many lists for Best Films of the 1980s decade. See more »


Camera shadow on the ground during the basketball game when JT falls down. See more »


Jeff Andrews: My problem is the repetitiveness. Y'know... wine, women, and whiteline fever, over and over. Whereas, progressive is existential. You got these chromatic melodies, right? To use for, like, a springboard into all kinds of experiments. Even the backbeat is full of nuances. You know that there's a central rhythmic idea going on, but you're never quite sure when it's going to pop up. Now, you-you put your, ah, your-your counterpoint on top of that, your passing tones, your arpeggios, your ...
See more »


Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »


Coast to Coast
© 1978 Sal Baglio
© 1978 Double Eagle Records
Written by Sal Baglio
Performed by The Stompers
See more »

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User Reviews

27 June 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

John Sayles made this film for only $60,000 and only one person in the film had any previous acting experience. It's just amazing how well this turned out. It's about a couple (Mike and Katie) who invite all their college friends to spending the weekend in a cabin in New Hampshire. They all spent their college years as radicals...and now they're all turning 30. We learn who they were and how they are now. No big catastrophes or changes are made with any of the characters--we just see how these former radicals are now dealing with life. Sounds boring but I found it absolutely fascinating. The acting is all natural and realistic--I found myself actually believing these people all have been friends for 10+ years! The dialogue was sharp and on target...but John Sayles has always been a master at writing great scripts.

I was in my first year of college when this came out. It was a HUGE hit in Boston (I believe it played at one independent cinema for over a year!) and I saw it again and again. Even though I was too young to really identify with the characters (their moaning about turning 30 struck me as silly) I was fascinated by their characters and situations. They do discuss issues that were relevant in 1980--that's probably what I found so interesting. Seeing it now (28 years later) it's dated (of course) but still fascinating. The references to late 70s issues, politicians and life style may confuse younger viewers. Also it was interesting to see that casual sex and drug taking is shown as being OK! I also liked the surprising and casual male nudity in a skinny dipping sequence. (None of the female actors get nude but it seems the guys had no problem). This was later remade (sort of) in Hollywood as "The Big Chill". "The Big Chill" is an excellent COMMERCIAL film...this is an excellent independent film. This made John Sayles and is also David Strathairn's first film! Absolutely fascinating motion picture. I wish Sayles had revisited these characters again in 1990 and 2000--by the end I was really wondering what happened to this people. A one of a kind and a groundbreaking independent film that was very profitable. A must see!

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