An alcoholic drifter spends Halloween in his home town of Albany, NY after returning there for the first time in decades.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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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

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Language:

Release Date:

12 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

Jack Nicholson's contract included a clause which allowed him to leave the shooting location to attend all Los Angeles Lakers basketball games. See more »

Goofs

When Francis returns to his wife's house, the kitchen floor has 12-inch vinyl composite tiles (VCT tiles). While VCT did exist in the 1930s, they were only in the 9 inch size. 12 inch VCTs were not made until the 1970s. See more »

Quotes

Rudy: Doctor says I got cancer. It's the first thing I ever got.
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Connections

Referenced in Parks and Recreation: New Slogan (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

He's Me Pal
Performed by Meryl Streep
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User Reviews

 
Ephemeral, beautiful, heartaching, and soon gone
19 November 2000 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

_Ironweed_ haunts for a long time after viewing, so be prepared. I also suggest that you be employed while you view this one.

William Kennedy's novel was an extreme work of beauty, and as much as I enjoyed and respected the novel, I never dreamed a film version could surpass it. In some ways at least, I believe this film does. Streep is luminous, no small feat while playing a drunk (they weren't called "homeless people" back then). And although he's proved it again since, this was the first time most of us saw Nicholson act. Tom Waits is terrific and gritty, Carroll Baker comes out of semi-retirement as though this was the one role she had left in her to play, and mixes pain and determination in just the right quantities.

Babenco clearly had a vision, and displays a maturity I hadn't expected from him. Even the score, a couple of tunes used over the opening and closing credits will make your heart ache.

It's all pathos, and it's all good. Grab it while you can -- I had to go to Canada and get a used copy online to find it at all. It was worth it.


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