Sommersby (1993)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  5 February 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 14,872 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 21 critic

A farmer's wife begins to suspect that the man in her bed is an impostor after he returns home from the Civil War.



(film The Return of Martin Guerre), (film The Return of Martin Guerre), 4 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Orin Meecham
Judge Barry Conrad Issacs
Lanny Flaherty ...
Reverend Powell
Little Rob
Dick Mead
Richard Hamilton ...
Mrs. Evans
Carter McNeese ...
Storekeeper Wilson
Dean Whitworth ...
Tom Clemmons


Set in the south of the United States just after the Civil War, Laurel Sommersby is just managing to work the farm without her husband Jack, believed killed in the Civil War. By all accounts, Jack Sommersby was not a pleasant man, thus when he returns, Laurel has mixed emotions. It appears that Jack has changed a great deal, leading some people to believe that this is not actually Jack but an impostor. Laurel herself is unsure, but willing to take the man into her home, and perhaps later into her heart... Written by Murray Chapman <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She knew his face. His touch. His voice. She knew everything about him... But the truth.


Drama | Mystery | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

5 February 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Stranger Within  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$50,081,992 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


It was on the set of this movie that star Jodie Foster met her longtime romantic partner Cydney Bernard, who was working as a production coordinator. They had two children together and remained a couple until their 2008 break-up. See more »


The fiddle being played at the homecoming dance is fitted with a chin piece, which was not used until the 20th century. See more »


Doc Evans: [Laurel is pregnant] I told you to use the fertilizer in the fields, Jack.
See more »


Referenced in The Dangerous (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

More believable than generally given credit for.
19 March 2002 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

In events occuring before the time line in the story, Homer meets and gets to know his double, Jack Sommersby, in a Civil War prison. When Jack dies, Homer decides (for reasons barely hinted at) to impersonate Jack and take up his life where it had left off before the war six years earlier.

Viewers who have trouble accepting this story's basic premise and its subplots must not understand denial, the strongest defense mechanism of all. Laurel believes the returning soldier to be her missing husband because she wants to -- as does her son, and indeed the whole town (with a few menacing exceptions). This new guy is nicer than the other one. He is good to his wife, his kid, and his poor struggling neighbors, inspiring them all to work together to save the community at large from certain starvation if things do not change. In short, they all *need* this Jack Sommersby; therefore, he must *be* Jack Sommersby.

When folks are in denial -- does anybody not believe in mass hysteria? -- discrepancies are often overlooked, and reality is suspended. If that is hard to swallow, then consider that some folks were well aware of Homer's impersonation (if not his true identity), but chose to ignore it because it was in their best interests to do so.

The courtroom situation is another area where viewers have remarked on non-reality. But this may be chalked up to historical artifact. With today's high levels of movie/TV courtroom drama, and even genuine courtroom TV, this century's viewing audiences are far more sophisticated than the actual participants of court proceedings of the mid-19th Century, even among many lawyers and judges of the era. I had no trouble believing the courtroom of a small, largely uneducated community might have gone just the way it did in this movie... ...except for one thing, where all belief is suspended: the black judge, presiding over a southern courtroom, just after the Civil War. If there actually were any black judges in existence then, my guess would be that, like the few practicing black MD's, they were restricted to cases involving blacks, Native Americans, etc -- and not the trial of a white (and formerly rich) landowner.

Yet this plot device does not get in the way of my enjoyment of the movie over all. The judge strives mightily to be impartial, even with those townspeople who would not be so with him. Their rabid hatred of his race cries out for justice; therefore, the judge appears to provide it, with almost comic relief, precisely at a point when the tension demands it.

A haunting, well-told tale for those who appreciate depth of character over high-paced action for its own sake.

34 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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