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The Pursuit of Happiness (1971)

A young college student is sent to prison as much for killing a pedestrian with his car as for not paying his parking tickets. When the opportunity presents itself he escapes and is ... See full summary »

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writers:

Thomas Rogers (book), Jon Boothe (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Sarrazin ... William Popper
Barbara Hershey ... Jane Kauffman
Arthur Hill ... John Popper
Ruth White ... Mrs. Popper
E.G. Marshall ... Daniel Lawrence
Robert Klein ... Melvin Lasher
Sada Thompson ... Ruth Lawrence
David Doyle ... James Moran
Barnard Hughes ... Judge Vogel
Peter White ... Terence Lawrence
Tom Rosqui Tom Rosqui ... District Attorney Keller
William Devane ... Pilot
Gilbert Lewis ... Convict George Wilson
Albert Henderson Albert Henderson ... Convict McCardle
Ralph Waite ... Detective Cromie
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Storyline

A young college student is sent to prison as much for killing a pedestrian with his car as for not paying his parking tickets. When the opportunity presents itself he escapes and is subsequently on the run with his girlfriend. But how long can this situation last? Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"I don't want to run anymore..."

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity, drug content and brief violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 March 1971 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Buscando la felicidad See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$52,386
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Talent Associates See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was Ruth White's final film before her death on December 3, 1969 at the age of fifty-five. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. O'Mara: Carelessness, accident, what difference does it make? She's still dead!
See more »

Soundtracks

The Pursuit of Happiness
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Performed by Randy Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting, unfortunately obscure little drama.
26 April 2013 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

It seems almost forgotten nowadays, which really is too bad. It's a thoughtful drama, adapted by Jon Boothe and George Sherman from the novel by Thomas Rogers. It tells a good story in a straightforward manner, refraining from indulging in any filler and giving impressive acting showcases to a fine bunch of actors.

Michael Sarrazin stars as William Popper, a college student who accidentally kills an old woman while driving in the rain one night. He's soon sent to prison, but what really screwed him more than the actual crime was the dim view that the system took of him, seeing a morally dubious young man with a serious disregard for law and order; not only was he driving with a license that he claims he didn't know expired, but he hadn't been paying his parking tickets.

While in prison, he becomes increasingly dismayed at the absurdity of the events in which he's caught up. Seeking to find some way to express himself, he seizes the opportunity for escape when it occurs, and implores his free spirited girlfriend Jane Kauffman (a very young and very gorgeous Barbara Hershey) to join him in his quest for freedom.

Boothe, Sherman, and director Robert Mulligan use this entertaining tale to make larger statements about the folly of human ignorance and the way that society at large can often impose its idea of how people should behave on the younger generation. Despite his good intentions, William continuously finds himself in trouble, whether he's admitting to being an atheist or lending some assistance to a homosexual fellow con (Gilbert Lewis). He's a young man frustrated by the injustices of the world and the whole aspect of chance. At least William has some people on his side, including his enthusiastic friend Melvin (comedian Robert Klein), his loving father John (Arthur Hill), and his formidable grandmother (Ruth White, who delivers a commanding performance). But he remains restless right to the end.

Sarrazin and Hershey are engaging in the leads, and the supporting cast features a number of familiar and reliable performers:E.G. Marshall as Williams' lawyer uncle, Sada Thompson as his aunt, David Doyle as an amiable con, Barnard Hughes as a judge, Ralph Waite as a detective, Rue McClanahan as an angry relative to the accident victim, and Charles Durning in a bit as a police guard. William Devane turns up late in the film, but makes a strong impression as a sleazy pilot whom William approaches for help.

This film is good enough, and likable enough, to deserve to be better known. At the very least, fans of the cast and director should be intrigued enough to want to give it a look.

Eight out of 10.


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