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Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979)

Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.

Director:

John Sayles

Writer:

John Sayles
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce MacDonald Bruce MacDonald ... Mike
Maggie Renzi Maggie Renzi ... Katie
Adam LeFevre ... J.T.
Maggie Cousineau Maggie Cousineau ... Frances
Gordon Clapp ... Chip
Jean Passanante Jean Passanante ... Irene
Karen Trott Karen Trott ... Maura
Mark Arnott ... Jeff
David Strathairn ... Ron
John Sayles ... Howie
Marisa Smith Marisa Smith ... Carol
Amy Schewel Amy Schewel ... Lacey
Carolyn Brooks Carolyn Brooks ... Meg
Eric Forsythe Eric Forsythe ... Captain
Nancy Mette ... Lee
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Storyline

The Secaucus 7 of the film's title are seven friends who, during their college days, were arrested in New Jersey on their way to a protest in Washington. The film takes place ten years after all that, as the friends gather at the home of Mike and Katie, now schoolteachers in New Hampshire, bringing with them old problems and new: Maura has left Jeff and seeks consolation with his best friend, J.T.; J.T., arguably the least successful of the friends, finally gets the courage to move to Los Angeles to start a career as a songwriter; Irene brings her new boyfriend along, hoping he'll like and be liked by her friends and expecting them to challenge him for his more-conservative politics; and more. This is the film that inspired "The Big Chill." Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Return of the Secaucus 7 See more »

Filming Locations:

New Hampshire, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Novelist John Sayles performed many different roles on this film. He was the films writer, director, editor, acted in the movie, but is not credited as a producer on this film even though Sayles raised finance. Throughout Sayles' career he generally is not credited and/or does not perform producing details. See more »

Goofs

Camera shadow on the ground during the basketball game when JT falls down. See more »

Quotes

Frances Carlson: You know, I can't imagine you guys teaching. I mean, is it the same old stuff we got?
Mike Donnelly: Well, I start the year with the Boston Police Strike.
Irene Rosenblue: They let you teach *that*?
Mike Donnelly: They let you teach just about anything, so long as you keep the students from knifing each other.
See more »

Connections

References Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Barbecue Rag
© 1979 Guy Van Duser
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User Reviews

A Solid Beginning
23 March 2004 | by alanlit96See all my reviews

Sayles' first film is, as one previously reviewer noted, the prototype independent film: small budget, previously unknown actors, an emphasis upon talk and ideas over action or even an event-oriented plot. The script varies from slow at times to very entertaining and incisive at others, but it always feels real. You don't necessarily feel you know the characters all that well when it's over, but you care about them nonetheless. It's all in all a very worthwhile film, in which you can see the director learning how to handle an ensemble cast, as he has done so effectively in recent years in Lone Star and Sunshine State. If you like this type of film at all, you will find it rewarding and quite worth your time.

It is amazing, though, how so many of the reviews attempt to not merely acknowledge the similarities to The Big Chill, but to elevate one film and denigrate the other. They come from very different places in terms of budget, stars and polish, but are both very fine films. In one sense, TBC is deeper in that the characters in that film have varied from their previous ideals (or at least it seems that way), a fact that lends a melancholy beneath the slickness that really isn't there in S7. However, a lot of people reach the age of the characters in S7 (they are all only about 30, younger than the characters in Chill) without yet having to really put things in perspective. The leads in S7 have become teachers, a predictable outcome. One other character has taken a job as an aide to a senator. J.T. is pursuing (or putting off pursuing) a musical career. The fact that this film views the characters before some of the inevitable conflicts in their lives have ripened actually makes it more subtle, and allows for the viewer to wonder where they will be in 5-10 years. Will the leads become Kevin Kline and Glenn Close? Will one of the characters die young and precipitate the life-examining session that occurs in Chill? I think the two films dovetail nicely together. To exalt one at the expense of the other is unnecessary and needlessly cynical.


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