Back Roads (1981) Poster

(1981)

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7/10
Sally Field on the glory road
moonspinner5521 January 2001
There's nothing more exciting than seeing a slick Hollywood player like Sally Field getting down-and-dirty like she does in "Back Roads". At one point, she and her two male pals (Tommy Lee Jones and David Keith) are at a county fair and have no money. No problem! Sally fixes her hair and says to the guys, "Don't wait up." She knows how to make money (with her body) and nonchalantly sets out to do it. She's proving nothing to no one--it's second-nature to her--and when Keith calls her a 'whore' she tells him, "A whore is a sixteen-year-old with a bad reputation. I...am...a...hustler!" There are many moments to cherish in this rough jewel: Field standing outside the school where the little boy she gave up for adoption attends, running into his angry mother; Field writing a letter to the same child, telling him how sorry she is; Jones and Field getting off their bus after a fight and going their separate ways, each trudging down two dusty streets. It's a top-notch road comedy with Field and Jones overcoming the obvious sentimentality of the overall conception and making a memorable duo. *** from ****
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Interesting movie about two marginal people
thomandybish4 April 2001
This little film has hooker Sally Field and drifter Tommy Lee Jones hitting the road together when Jones ruins Field's chances for, ahem, gainful employment in the one-horse Southern town where she lives after he decks a cop who tries to bust her. Along the way the two encounter various predicaments and characters, as well as revealing parts of their pasts. Fascinating study that gives two people on the fringe of society faces and intriguing stories. Keep an eye peeled for Nell Carter as a pistol-packin' waitress. Not a bad way to pass the time.
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7/10
Good road movie
igorfado21 October 2015
Good road movie and pretty emotion provoking. There are so many involving moments where you may sympathize the characters or feel sad about them, feel their situation and live it with them. The story may lack direction or logically complete end but nevertheless it's worth watching for the warmth of the characters' relations, the sensual way they stick together. If you can enjoy movies without judging them too strictly and without expecting anything stunning or extraordinary and just want to spend time following the way and sharing troubles with the characters, this movie might be for you. I rate this movie for the warmth that is expressed by the protagonists
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6/10
Improves with repeated viewings--Did misguided ad campaign kill its chances?
FilmNutgm16 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Years ago, when the movie trailer ran on television, it was touted as a "wacky road comedy." SPOILER: They used this one scene where the two characters are trying to jump on a moving train and ultimately end up in a mud puddle. END OF SPOILER. Yes, that scene was funny in a slap-sticky kind of way, but it also set the audience up to expect a totally different movie. I didn't watch it at first; those two actors just didn't scream comic foils to me; eventually, it was on TV and I watched it expecting a comedy. I hated it! The grubby sadness of these characters' lives just didn't strike me as funny. Melancholy, seedy, frustrating--yes; Funny? No. Years pass. It's on TV again. I decide to watch it and forget that the ads and reviews and video stores place it in the comedy section. This time I liked the film so much better. I eventually got the DVD and have enjoyed it every time I've seen it. Don't get me wrong: It's no classic; but, if you expect a character study instead of romantic comedy, you might enjoy it more. Oh, and I'm embarrassed to confess that I even hated the theme song so much that I wondered if the singer got the job because she was related to the producer or something. Now,I realize the bittersweet lyrics and pleasant, but world-weary singing suit the movie perfectly. Again, if you're not expecting a comedy and can get modern movie themes' bombast out of your ears, it's another melancholy pleasure one can glean from this film.
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5/10
romance lacks chemistry
SnoopyStyle2 August 2013
Amy Post (Sally Field) is a low rent prostitute in Alabama. She gets caught up with jobless drifter ex-boxer customer Elmore Pratt (Tommy Lee Jones) as they go off on a rambling road trip.

Norma Rae director Martin Ritt reunites with Sally Field. I think it's intended as a grimy tough rom-com. Whether it's the script or the much rumored bad relationship between Field and Jones, the couple is plagued with bitter anger and the chemistry is never good. The movie is filmed in a low rent 70s style Grime-o-Vision. It works sometimes like playing pinball in a roadside bar but mostly it looks like a poorly made indie. In the end, the relationship never blossoms as it's suppose to. Sally Field does have a good breakdown, but Tommy Lee Jones have the acting range of a grumpy old man.
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6/10
A Dismal Road
angelsunchained26 December 2006
Overlooked early 1980s film. The movie is a depressing look at two seedy characters trying to make it through life. The acting is solid and both Fields and Jones look the part of someone living on the edges of society. Jones is a two-bit club boxer with a reputation for losing. He comes across in a less then positive light, yet down deep, there's a heart of gold. Fields as a street hustler looks beat-up in this film. He rarely cracks a smile, and it's one of here meaty roles. However, the film is a somewhat depressing look at life, at least from the standpoint of street people. It's a fairly entertaining movie and if you're a fan of either Sally Fields or Tommy Lee Jones, then Back Roads is a film to see.
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6/10
A road movie about two lovable losers
imbluzclooby13 April 2016
I have a soft spot in my heart for road movies that feature lovable losers surviving in the midst of the odds stacked against them. Or perhaps I find this subject matter a guilty pleasure. This genre of drama has been done before and Back Roads wasn't the last movie to do this, although most of them are buddy movies where we have two unlikely male protagonists: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Scarecrow, etc. Some films may have segments of this plot within their stories, but Back Roads is pretty much entirely set where our two main characters, Amy (a cheap hooker) and Elmore (A lowlife ex-prize fighter) are out on a lamb trying to make their way to California. Back Roads offers something more special than the usual buddy film for we are treated to the possibility of romance and a deep look into humanity.

Whether you like this movie or not depends entirely on how much sympathy and love you can afford to our main characters. If there is anyone to ever be able to pull off this genteel and earnest feat, it would be Sally field. Yes, Sally Field had the girlish charm with her doll-like big eyes, her tiny figure and endearing pout. She is a hooker with a heart of gold who for some reason has fallen on the fringes of society due to unhealthy and bad life decisions. There was a time in Hollywood when a hooker's character was treated with much more scorn and shame. But at this time in cinema, the early 1980's, Hollywood cast a more fair light on these subjects while treating them with pity and more likability. It's true that prostitutes and low lives are more charming on screen than in real life and we accept this by our own consent. Strangely and perhaps intentionally, Back Roads was marketed as a screwball romantic comedy. What those few viewers saw on screen was a bit more sad and serious with some dark comedy intertwined. Tommie Lee Jones does well and the chemistry between him and Sally is correct. As much as they bicker, make up, break apart and get back together, it all seems so right if not predictable. We root for them. They are not the winners of society, but they win our hearts.

The montage of Amy traveling alone on foot, on buses or hitching rides is accompanied by the melancholy ballad as we see our forlorn heroine looking defeated, blue and lonely. The director allows us to peer into her lonely and desperate soul. Tommie Lee is nothing more than a hapless bum who loses his job, but still has a chance to make a quick buck in a low stakes boxing ring. Sometimes love happens in the worst of circumstances and forces people to address what matters most whether it's from inner desperation or just the innate need for a partner. This is a humble tale of two drifters, who, through their personal journey, learn about love and the need for friendship.

Some people may be turned off by the grubby lifestyle and the sleazy misadventures these two go through. We are treated to the seediness of the redneck south with all of its cheap diners, truck stops, motels and how it looks from a low-budget traveler's perspective. There is also some corny dialogue; "I've seen some squirrel's in my time, but you are at the top of the tree", exclaims Amy when she expresses her disapproval of Elmore's uncouth character. Typical dialogue of this era seems outdated, but it doesn't detract from the overall theme.

The one downfall to this movie is that they couldn't construct a good ending, because the story doesn't really promise that these characters are going to strike it rich once they reach California. The movie simply ends as they stand there hitchhiking while making a poetic statement of how they accept themselves and their love for each other. What matters is not the outcome of their journey, but how they arrive at a personal state of self-acceptance. Movies like Back Roads endear us to the down and out losers. Their ill-fated lives are a not treated as a result of their ignoble character, but rather as a byproduct of their vulnerability and weaknesses.
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7/10
A little story
Rune Carlsson14 March 2007
Hi. Long time ago I was on a Swedish ship, a general cargo ship on a trip from England to Brownsville, Texas. It was a bad ship, and it ended in a one-way ticket back to Sweden, paid by the Swedish embassy, but, however, there were some Mexican hookers visiting our ship every day during our stay, very friendly and "speakable", but one day when they came aboard one of them shouted "I'm a movie star", and she explained that she had a part in a film called "Crossroads" (later I found out that it was called Back Roads), featuring Sally Field. As the years went by I looked for this film but never found it, until today(!) 14th March 2007, when they showed it on cable television...fantastic! After all, she wasn't lying! A little story on the first day of spring here in Sweden. Yours Rune Carlsson
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tommy lee shines
windsors_angel26 May 2004
This movie was an upside down love story of two people who were unlikely to end up together. It was great to watch because you know what's going to happen in the end, but you want to see how they get there. The one problem I had with this movie was Sally Field playing a prostitute. It just didn't seem believable to me. Sally Field looks to innocent and sweet to play a character like this. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand is just great. He plays the part of a drifter that moves from town to town and does almost everything to survive, but also maintains a good heart towards this woman(Sally Field)that wants nothing to do with him. If you are going to watch it, watch it for Tommy Lee Jones. One other thing, they should of chosen more than just one song for the movie. The theme song plays about 3 or 4 times throughout the movie. This is one movie that I would love to see remade. It's a timeless movie.
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7/10
Underrated and unknown little gem that's a heartfelt journey tale of struggle, love and survival!
Danny Blankenship30 December 2012
Just recently checked out this little known film from 1981 called "Back Roads" and I knew it would be a winner when it had Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field in it and I was right the chemistry had worked. This is a heartfelt little tale of struggle and a journey of survival it touches your emotions showing that everyone has good in them and life is an unexpected journey. Set in the deep rural south I believe Alabama you have Sally Field as Amy Post a sweet and love like street walking hotel staying hooker who earns 20 dollars for each bang she gives. Things shakeup a little bit when she meets the rough and rugged Elmore Pratt(Tommy Lee Jones) a man who's dreams of becoming a prize fighter has blown up in smoke as now he moonlights as a taxi car washer! After hooking up the two decide to journey out to California the best way they can as money will not stop them. This is an interesting journey in which both each learn respect, love and courage it proves life is a journey of discovery and learning how to love. Overall good little underrated gem to watch.
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4/10
Pointles, Lacks Direction
gcd7013 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Back Roads", a pointless movie which lacks direction and is void thematically, concerns a cross-country journey of discovery that is uninspired and uncovers little. Screenwriter Gary De Vore's would be road movie tells the story of a two people from Mobile, Alabama who head out to California to try and start their lives anew. The weak plot leaves little for Martin Ritt (director) to work with, and he is unable to swing the film into gear (it couldn't choose one) with any real force.

The pairing of Sally Field, who does reasonably well in this unusual role, and Tommy Lee Jones is never romantically moving, and the duo can make little of the sparse comedy and ineffective drama. David Keith drops by in a supporting role, but his meaningless character leaves him floundering.

De Vore made nothing of the subplot involving Miss Field's little boy.

Saturday, June 10, 1995 - Video
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10/10
I also recommend you see Midnight Cowboy(1969) and Scarecrow(1973).
Vivekmaru4531 October 2017
What a profoundly beautiful film I just saw. It's a romance along with some dark situational drama that goes along perfectly.

The film is the tale of a middle-aged sex worker Amy Post(Sally Field) and a drifter and ex-boxer Elmore Pratt(Tommy Lee Jones)who gets the occasional boxing match in the places he visits.

The film tells the story of how these two characters meets and from that single encounter will form a bond that will last forever. As I have already said it is a beautiful film and I am a romantic at heart.

Martin Ritt a seasoned director, really makes us feel that we are in the middle of the events that unfold in the film. I have seen two of Ritt's earlier films that I also recommend you see: Hud(1963 starring Paul Newman) and Norma Rae(1973 starring Sally Field and based on a true story).
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A well acted, but ultimately empty, tale
Wizard-87 March 2011
Despite the presence of two Oscar-winning actors in its cast, "Back Roads" has been forgotten for the most part. Seeing it, it becomes clear why it hasn't built a cult. I won't say that it's a terrible movie - there are a few good things about it. It's nice for a change to see a major Hollywood studio movie that is fairly downbeat in nature. Also, the acting by both Jones and Field is pretty good - in fact, while watching the movie, I never thought I was watching two movie stars, but instead watching two characters. But their characters aren't that interesting. We don't learn much about them, and their frequent bickering becomes ultimately tiring. Also, when the movie ends, it ends at a point where it seems unfinished. It's like the director said, "We've got a 90 minute running time, so let's call it a day." Only worth watching if you want to see why the CBS network wasn't very successful in making theatrical movies.
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6/10
Sally Field meets Tommy Lee Jones in Back Roads
tbills215 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I love Sally Field. She is real sexy in Back Roads. Her and Tommy Lee Jones share great chemistry together, they just may not have known it yet themselves. I remember that Field and Jones had on the set issues, probably because Tommy Lee was trying to come on to Sally off the set. Can't blame him. She's Gidget, The Flying Nun, and she's playing a hooker! More like though, she's Sally Field and she's smoking hot. Somebody cool her off. Sally Field always plays the kind of girl you can take home to momma. And it don't seem much different for her here in Back Roads. Listen boy, she ain't a whore, she is a hustler! This all might be just a fantasy in my head, but Tommy Lee Jones felt obligated to apologize to Sally years later for something he did while filming this with Sally. Probably a good thing, too. Here's a theory. Maybe all Tommy Lee Jones wanted at the time was a sweet girl like Sally, and perhaps all Sally Field ever wanted was a wild heart like Tommy, but neither one had the know-how to admit to it. Just a theory. Back Roads is so under appreciated and over analyzed. Just enjoy it. It takes place in the South and it's really down country home living and back road loving. Tommy Lee Jones and Sally field make a great couple on screen. That much is clear. I love these two guys. Jones is a pistol and Field is a firecracker. I'm deeply in love with them both, but mostly Sally. Yea, mostly Sally. Back Roads' theme song, 'Ask Me No Questions (I'll Tell You No Lies)', is a beautiful song and it fits the movie like a glove. Sally wears such pretty hair-dos. Sally Field is so damn purty, like you wouldn't believe. I love Back Roads. It's damn good.
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