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Ironweed (1987)

R  |   |  Drama  |  February 1988 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 5,592 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 24 critic

A schizophrenic drifter spends Halloween in his home town after returning there for the first time in decades.

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Title: Ironweed (1987)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jake Dengel ...
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Laura Esterman ...
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Hy Anzell ...
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Storyline

Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them: she's sick, a pal has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped; visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. That night, out drinking, Helen tries to sing at a bar. Next day, Fran visits his wife and children and meets a grandson. He could stay, but decides it's not for him. Helen gets their things out of storage and finds a hotel. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, the film explores their code of fairness and loyalty. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tallo de hierro  »

Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$7,393,346 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gene Hackman, Jason Robards, Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, 'Robert Duvall (I)' and Sam Shepard all expressed a desire for the part of Francis Phelan, but William Kennedy had Jack Nicholson already in mind for the role. See more »

Goofs

As noted, this film takes place in 1938; but a billboard is seen advertising the Marx Brothers film "At the Circus" which is a 1939 release. See more »

Quotes

Francis Phelan: By God, Helen, that's as good as it gets. You were born to be a star.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 60th Annual Academy Awards (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

He's Me Pal
Performed by Meryl Streep
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User Reviews

Not for the faint of heart
18 May 2002 | by (Flagstaff, AZ) – See all my reviews

Have you ever wondered what's it's like to be homeless? To most of us, it's as foreign an existence as the medieval world of Hugh Capet. And yet, it's a way of life that's within reach of all of us. And I'm not talking about its physical proximity, about the unfortunates we pass on the streets with their bed rolls on their backs: on the contrary, I'm referring to its spiritual, psychological proximity, to all the rest of us, who, given the right circumstances, could give up on our cheery Western materialist society and wander off into the shadows.

Ironweed takes its viewers into that shadowy world of the rail yards, cardboard shantytowns, underpasses, and abandoned automobiles, and shows us incisive glimpses of how a person arrives there. Featuring what I think are the very best performances by Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, Ironweed gets us deep into the sooty, grimy, bilious skin of the two `hobos.' Like Schindler's List, Ironweed is dark poetry. When the movie is over, you're haunted for days by the imagery.

Set in Albany during the Great Depression, Ironweed delivers not an ounce of moralizing. It's like a clinical exposition of the homeless person's entire life, both from without, and within. On the outside, of course, there's the Depression: a society doing the best it can to get by. From the `hobo's' point of view, one feels the implicit violence of a culture taught to view others as economic instruments of their own survival. The homeless, of course, are on the bottom end of the food chain. On the inside, Ironweed takes us into the intense pain of dashed hopes and expectations. From within and without, the homeless are caught in a whirling vortex that only grinds them down deeper and deeper into despair, the type that Kierkegaard's describes in `Sickness unto Death.' It's where intense poverty is not just physical, but spiritual.

This is a terrific movie; but, it's not for the faint of heart.


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