7.5/10
3,937
72 user 17 critic

The Trip to Bountiful (1985)

PG | | Drama | 24 January 1986 (USA)
In 1940s Texas, an elderly woman is determined to visit her childhood home for one last time.

Director:

Peter Masterson

Writers:

Horton Foote (screenplay), Horton Foote (play)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Geraldine Page ... Mrs. Watts
John Heard ... Ludie Watts
Carlin Glynn ... Jessie Mae
Richard Bradford ... Sheriff
Rebecca De Mornay ... Thelma
Kevin Cooney ... Roy
Norman Bennett ... First Bus Ticket Man
Harvey Lewis Harvey Lewis ... Second Bus Ticket Man
Kirk Sisco Kirk Sisco ... Train Ticket Agent
Dave Tanner Dave Tanner ... Billy Davis
Gil Glasgow ... Stationmaster Gerard
Mary Kay Mars Mary Kay Mars ... Rosella
Wezz Tildon Wezz Tildon ... Bus Passenger
Peggy Ann Byers Peggy Ann Byers ... Downstairs Neighbor
David Romo David Romo ... Mexican Man
Learn more

More Like This 

The Trip to Bountiful (TV Movie 2014)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Carrie Watts begrudgingly lives with her busy, overprotective son, Ludie, and pretentious daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. No longer able to drive and forbidden to travel alone, she wishes for ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Wilson
Stars: Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Blair Underwood
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Plain, repressed spinster falls for a dashing young medical student, but he prefers the wilder life, until it's too late.

Director: Peter Glenville
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Geraldine Page, Rita Moreno
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.

Director: Bruce Beresford
Stars: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley
Agnes of God (1985)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When a naive novice nun is discovered with a dead newborn in her convent quarters, a court-appointed psychiatrist investigates her case.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In central Texas in the 1930s, a widow, with two small children, tries to run her small 40-acre farm with the help of two disparate people.

Director: Robert Benton
Stars: Sally Field, Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris
The Trip to Bountiful (TV Movie 1953)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
Director: Vincent J. Donehue
Stars: Lillian Gish, Eileen Heckart, Dennis Cross
Blue Sky (1994)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Jessica Lange stars in a period drama about a family moving to a military base, and she quickly becomes part of a cover-up involving nuclear bomb tests.

Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones, Powers Boothe
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two aged sisters reflect on life and the past during a late summer day in Maine.

Director: Lindsay Anderson
Stars: Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price
Dealers (1989)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

The London branch of Whitney Paine, a major American investment bank, is in the midst of a crisis; after the loss of $100 million, one of their leading traders, Tony Eisner commits suicide ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Bucksey
Stars: Paul McGann, Rebecca De Mornay, Derrick O'Connor
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When his apartment building is torn down, a retired lifelong New Yorker goes on a cross country odyssey with his beloved cat Tonto.

Director: Paul Mazursky
Stars: Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, René Enríquez
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A new speech teacher at a school for the deaf falls in love with the janitor, a deaf woman speechless by choice.

Director: Randa Haines
Stars: William Hurt, Marlee Matlin, Piper Laurie
Edit

Storyline

Carrie Watts is living the twilight of her life trapped in an apartment in 1940's Houston, Texas with a controlling daughter-in-law and a hen-pecked son. Her fondest wish -- just once before she dies -- is to revisit Bountiful, the small Texas town of her youth which she still refers to as "home." The trouble is her son, Ludie, is too concerned for her health to allow her to travel alone and her petty daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae, insists they don't have money to squander on bus tickets. This prompts "escape" attempts each month which coincide with the arrival of Mrs. Watts' Social Security check. Then, Mrs. Watts makes a successful escape and last trip home. Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The Broadway production of "A Trip To Bountiful" by Horton Foote opened at Henry Miller's Theater on November 3, 1953 running 309 performances and starring Lillian Gish, Gene Lyons, Jo Van Fleet and Eva Marie Saint. Lillian Gish and Eva Marie Saint recreated their roles from the original teleplay broadcast on NBC on March 1, 1953. See more »

Goofs

While Mother Watts is at the bus stop you see the bus approach. The head-sign says Montrose, which is just west of downtown Houston. If you look at the terrain, it is sloped not true rolling hills, but still somewhat hilly. Houston is flat as a board. These hills are reminiscent of the Dallas/Irvine area. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Carrie Watts: I don't know of anything prettier, than a scissortail flyin' through the sky!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's Happening Now!: The Movie Deal (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

The Old House
Written, conducted and produced by J.A.C. Redford
See more »

User Reviews

"If Your Son Marries, You Lose A Son"
21 June 1999 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

This is a gentle, contemplative little film. It is the story of an old woman's return to her pre-Depression home, and the memories and regrets that the journey invokes.

Mother Watts lives with her son Ludie and his wife Jessie Mae in a two-room apartment. Life is cramped. Mother has to sleep on the couch, everybody in the apartment is constantly getting in everybody else's way, physically and emotionally, and the neighbours can hear every word. Mother Watts is a country girl in spirit, having been raised on the land, and her yearning to get away from the rootless, joyless suburbs eventually overwhelms her ...

The film is set in the nascent middle-class suburban environment of Houston, Texas in the 1940's. Ludie and Jessie Mae are a typical couple in their early middle years: he is hoping for a salary raise, so that he can afford a house and a car, she inhabits a narrow psychological world of nice clothes, coffee shops and picture shows. Ludie's mother lives with them, and this irritates Jessie Mae intensely. The two women clash repeatedly as Jessie Mae constantly seeks to assert her ascendancy within the household.

Mother Watts is a simple soul. She sings the hymns she learnt as a child as she goes about her dreary chores (Jessie Mae does no housework). Mother receives a monthly pension cheque from the government, and this seems to be the only reason that Jessie Mae tolerates her presence. The daughter-in-law clearly regards the cheque as her own property.

The old lady inhabits a world of reverie, an intuitive, emotional world of memories. The full moon keeps her awake all night, as it did when she lived in the rural community of Bountiful, some 20 years previously. In the glow of the moonlight, she hankers for that idealised country life. When Jessie Mae switches on the electric light, its harsh glare ends the dream-time abruptly, stark modernism cutting Mother Watts' links with her own personal history.

Mother Watts resolves to make one last trip to Bountiful. On her way she encounters obstacles (she has enormous difficulty cashing her cheque) and disappointments (death and progress have transformed the Bountiful of her memories). However, she also meets with the kindness of strangers. Thelma, the young woman who is travelling her way, befriends her and shares confidences with her. Mother Watts reveals that two of her children died in Bountiful - one of diphtheria, one of sheer poverty. The local sheriff (Richard Bradford) undergoes a change of heart and helps the old woman to revisit the place of her dreams.

When Ludie and Jessie Mae finally catch up with the wandering old lady, Ludie momentarily glimpses that other world, the world of soil, simplicity and communal spirit. Jessie Mae is of course impervious to Bountiful's charms, and she seems utterly out of place in her white high-heels.

The 'message' of this nostalgic little film is that people who live on the land put down roots which sustain them them through hardship and sadness, whereas the shallow urbanites have nothing to bolster their bland existence. Mother Watts may have lost two babies, but she is infinitely more fulfilled than Jessie Mae, who has never had any children.

An excellent period feel suffuses the film. The early scenes in the apartment are suitable claustrophobic, helping to develop the theme of 'hemming-in'. By contrast, when Mother Watts begins her bus ride, the screen opens out into an impressive panorama of land and sky. We feel that this will be Mother Watts' final adventure in life, and this elegiac quality is subtly underscored by clever touches: we see her behind a glass panel at the bus station, with the lettering "Houston Terminal Cafe" obliterating her face.

Geraldine Page is great as Mother Watts, keeping her character simple and humble, and resisting the temptation to 'grandstand'. John Heard impresses in the role of Ludie, the slightly downtrodden son who strives to do the right thing. Again, the characterisation is spot-on ... Ludie is dull and inarticulate, and Heard grounds him in bathos. Carlin Glynn has fun playing the awful Jessie Mae, and Rebecca de Mornay is first-class as the sweet-natured Thelma.

A restricted palate can sometimes produce the most powerful effects. The final scene, where Mother Watts gets her fingers in the dirt one last time, is a terrific climax, built up slowly and patiently, and relying purely on the interplay of characters.


24 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 72 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 January 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Trip to Bountiful See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Worth, Texas, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,387, 22 December 1985

Gross USA:

$7,491,903

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,491,903
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed