This So-Called Disaster: Sam Shepard Directs the Late Henry Moss (2003)

R  |   |  Documentary  |  21 April 2004 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 205 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 10 user | 18 critic | 18 from

Director Michael Almereyda's documentary on the weeks just prior to Sam Shepard's stage production of his play "The Late Henry Moss."


Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: William J. Eggleston, Michael Almereyda, Winston Eggleston
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

When an unhappy young woman disappears, her worried sister desperately searches the internet for a clue to her missing sibling's whereabouts.

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Karl Geary, Shalom Harlow, Clarence Williams III
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A year after Hurricane Katrina, Henry, a surgeon in the affluent Garden District of New Orleans, is attempting to get his life back on track. He is remarrying his ex-wife, renovating her ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Butler Harner
The Eternal (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

An alcoholic American couple travel to the UK with their son so he can meet his grandmother but they walk in on their crazed uncle who is in the midst of reviving a centuries-old Druid witch.

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Rachel O'Rourke, Lois Smith, Alison Elliott
Nadja (1994)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

This ultra-hip, post-modern vampire tale is set in contemporary New York City. Members of a dysfunctional family of vampires are trying to come to terms with each other, in the wake of ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Elina Löwensohn, Peter Fonda, Nic Ratner
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Barry Del Sherman, Isabel Gillies, Bob Gosse
Twister (1989)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

An oddball family on a Kansas farm are trapped in their farmhouse by an impending storm. The patriarch of the clan is a retired soda pop tycoon. He is currently dating a children's TV ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, Suzy Amis, Crispin Glover
Hamlet (2000)
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Modern-day New York City adaptation of Shakespeare's immortal story about Hamlet's plight to avenge his father's murder.

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Diane Venora
Cymbeline (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.9/10 X  

A gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. A drug kingpin is driven to desperate measures.

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Itzhak Rabin's murder ended all efforts of peace, and with him the whole left wing of Israel died. The movie shows the last of his days as prime minister, and what led to his murder.

Director: Amos Gitai
Stars: Yitzhak Hizkiya, Pini Mittelman, Michael Warshaviak
Paradise II (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Director: Michael Almereyda
Comedy | Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Poet and pundit Andrei Codrescu (Road Scholar 1992) is once again taking the pulse of America, trading his Cadillac convertible for a variety of water craft as he explores, with typical ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Andrei Codrescu


Credited cast:
Sheila Tousey ...
Himself (as T-Bone Burnett)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Taxi Driver
Ann Militello ...
Shona Mitchell ...
Assistant Stage Manager


After the American playwright and actor Sam Shepard had played the role of the ghost in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet, Shepard invited the filmmaker to document rehearsals for his The Late Henry Moss, that he staged with Nick Nolte and Sean Penn in leading roles. Almereyda and his crew filmed the last three weeks before the première. The film combines interviews with Shepard, his actors and staff with images of the rehearsals. The result is both a portrait and a unique glimpse of top actors seeking their way through the material. The film also offers a survey of the career of Shepard, including a report of his stormy relationship with his father, who died in 1984. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 April 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Late Henry Moss  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,435 (USA) (23 April 2004)


$45,195 (USA) (25 June 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)


See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Looking for Maleness
29 April 2004 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"This So-Called Disaster" (the on-screen credits had an additional, secondary title that I can't find documented on line) is a fascinating look at the rehearsal process, particularly between actors and a director.

It would make a terrific double feature with Al Pacino's "Looking for Richard" because here we have the additional angle that the playwright is very much alive -- Sam Shepherd-- and he actively cuts lines based on what the actors can embody without words.

He trusts these actors because they include Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, and James Gammon, who has channeled Shepherd's alcoholic father in other plays before finally expiating his Eugene O'Neill-like obsession in this play, "The Late Henry Moss," as produced in 2000 at San Francisco's Magic Theater.

The fly-on-the-wall camera work is supplemented by Shepherd's first-time willingness to discuss the autobiographical elements of his work, with details on his family, including photographs and film, and some informal discussion by and formal interviews with the actors. (We also see him not providing the same information to a very nervous AP reporter.)

Documentarian Michael Almereyda has captured an important element in Shepherd's and these particular actors work: their roaring masculinity and how they have and are continuing to struggle with the themes of the play in their art and in their lives, how to be sons, brothers, and fathers.

Working on this play is forcing all these sexy, combative guys to come to grips with mortality and family, even though the play itself doesn't seem particularly effective at expiating that for the audience. For example, we get a languid yet intense Penn protesting that the heavy rehearsal schedule has to allow time out for him to take his kids trick-or-treating, as clearly this play has heightened all of their consciousness about parental responsibilities. I now would certainly like to see Russell Crowe take on a Shepherd play.

T-Bone Burnett is also interviewed about the background music he put together for the production.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: