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Tender Mercies (1983)

PG  |   |  Drama, Music  |  10 June 1983 (Australia)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,864 users  
Reviews: 65 user | 34 critic

A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.



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Won 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Allan Hubbard ...
Robert (as Lenny Von Dohlen)
Michael Crabtree ...
Norman Bennett ...
Andrew Scott Hollon ...
Rick Murray ...
Jake - Slater Mill Boys Member
Stephen Funchess ...
Glen Fleming ...
Steve - Slater Mill Boys Member
James Aaron ...
Henry - Slater Mill Boys Member


Alchoholic former country singer Mac Sledge makes friends with a young widow and her son. The friendship enables him to find inspiration to resume his career. Written by Stefan Halldorsson <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Robert Duvall is Mac Sledge, down and out country singer. His struggle for fame was over. His fight for respect was just beginning See more »


Drama | Music


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 June 1983 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

El precio de la felicidad  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


First cinema movie penned by Horton Foote that was not an adaptation and was specifically written for the big screen. See more »


In the final scenes, Sonny is shown with empty farmland behind him, then after a cut to a wider shot, suddenly the gas station and motel are behind him. See more »


Woman with Groceries: Hey, mister, were you really Mac Sledge?
Mac Sledge: Yes, ma'm, I guess I was.
See more »


Over You
Written by Austin Roberts & Bobby Hart
Sung by Betty Buckley
See more »

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User Reviews

A Drama With Realism, Heart & Dignity
21 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a movie with a lot of "dignity." It has such realistic people, it kept me fascinated because it seemed so different from most films I've watched.

There aren't a lot of dramatic things that happen in the story yet, as a whole, it's a wonderful tale that stays with you. It's a lot more than just seeing an Oscar-winning performance by Robert Duvall as Texan and former C&W singer and writer, "Mac Sledge." It's simply good storytelling

I can't say I am a fan of Duvall's country singing, but that is the only thing I didn't like. Well, maybe "Dixie" (Betty Buckley), who played a bitter ex-wife of Duvall's in here. She was not pleasant, but others were really nice, likable people. Yet, this is not some sappy movie just because most of the people are good folks.

As in film noirs in which the viewer has a sense of dread, knowing something bad is around the corner, I felt the same thing in this film, even though it didn't necessarily happen. I mean with the main characters: Mac, Rosa Lee and Sonny. There was underlying tension, probably because of Sledge's alcoholic and violent past, that made me fear that any minute he was going to ruin the nice setup he had with a good woman and nice stepson.

Duvall, as usual, makes his role a fascinating and unpredictable one. With many of the people he has played over the years, you never am sure what his characters are going to do next. Tess Harper, as Mac's new wife, and Alan Hubbard, as her son, are two of the most realistic characters I've ever seen on film. It helped they were from the area so their accents were real.

This is a just straight drama, with a solid screenplay by Horton Foote and direction by Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"). In addition, actors Buckley (who can sing, too), Wilford Brimley and Ellen Barkin all give memorable supporting performances.

It was an interesting tale of something I have rarely seen on film in the past 50 years: a good Christian woman lifting up a man to her level. She never had to do it verbally, never nagged or preached to the man, just set example of how to act and be a loving, supportive spouse. There is a lesson for people here with how well "Rosa Lee" handled situations. Nice.....very nice.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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More films like this? BERSERKERpoetry
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Why did Max not tell his daughter about the song? emheffner-1
song at the end of the movie ralph57
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