6.7/10
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Ironweed (1987)

R | | Drama | 12 February 1988 (USA)
An alcoholic drifter spends Halloween in his home town of Albany, New York after returning there for the first time in decades.

Director:

Hector Babenco

Writers:

William Kennedy (novel), William Kennedy (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Francis Phelan
Meryl Streep ... Helen
Carroll Baker ... Annie Phelan
Michael O'Keefe ... Billy
Diane Venora ... Peg
Fred Gwynne ... Oscar Reo
Margaret Whitton ... Katrina
Tom Waits ... Rudy
Jake Dengel Jake Dengel ... Pee Wee
Nathan Lane ... Harold Allen
James Gammon ... Reverend Chester
Will Zahrn ... Rowdy Dick
Laura Esterman Laura Esterman ... Nora
Joe Grifasi ... Jack
Hy Anzell ... Rosskam
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Storyline

Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them: she's sick, a pal has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped; visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. That night, out drinking, Helen tries to sing at a bar. Next day, Fran visits his wife and children and meets a grandson. He could stay, but decides it's not for him. Helen gets their things out of storage and finds a hotel. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, the film explores their code of fairness and loyalty. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El amor es un eterno vagabundo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$36,973, 20 December 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,393,346
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Director Hector Babenco had previously dealt with the subject of poverty with Pixote (1981). See more »

Goofs

When the vigilantes' cars approach the hobo camp, they are observed across the steel-ribbed top of a boxcar with no running board, impossible in 1938. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pee Wee: [gathered around a fire barrel] Oh God, it's too damn cold out here. Hey, Francis.
Francis Phelan: Hey, Pee Wee.
Pee Wee: Have you come back?
Francis Phelan: Yeah. You, uh, seen Helen around?
Pee Wee: No. I haven't seen her in a couple days.
Francis Phelan: Well, I'll catch up with her.
See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

He's Me Pal
Performed by Meryl Streep
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Great/Depressing Depression
7 February 2007 | by lee_eisenbergSee all my reviews

Given that we often hear a rather idealized version of the Great Depression - it seems like some people go so far as to treat it as the "good old days" - it's important to understand just what things were like back then. Hector Babenco's ultra-downer "Ironweed" does that. Jack Nicholson plays drifter Francis Phelan, who returns to his home town (where he hasn't been in years) and traipses around it, seeing the poverty prevalent throughout the Depression. He deals with his own demons and sees whether or not he can start up a new life. But he can't escape the reality of the status quo, or of his own past.

Watching this movie, you may feel like you've just been drug through a gutter. But one must wonder how much better things are nowadays. For how terrible the Depression was, it helped our country understand not only abject poverty, but what caused the Depression. In this era of air-heads slacking off and using as many resources as possible, I wonder whether or not we might be headed towards a new kind of Depression. If so, then the movie warned us.

Anyway, I recommend this movie, but understand that it's a total downer. Also starring Meryl Streep, Carroll Baker, Michael O'Keefe, Diane Venora, Fred Gwynne, Tom Waits and Nathan Lane.


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