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A Family for Joe (1990)

To keep from being separated, four orphans get a homeless maverick to pose as their guardian.


Jeff Melman (as Jeffrey Melman)


Arnold Margolin


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Mitchum ... Joe Whitaker
Chris Furrh ... Nick Bankston
Maia Brewton ... Holly Bankston
Jarrad Paul ... Chris Bankston
Jessica Player ... Mary Bankston
Barbara Babcock ... Miss Collins
David Nelson ... George Merkel
Anna Mathias ... Annie Brewster
Jim Hackett ... Pete Brewster (as James Hackett)
Janet MacLachlan ... Judge Delaney
Patrick Cronin ... Mr. Reed (as Patrick J. Cronin)
Robert Casper ... Mr. Edwards
Richard X. Slattery ... Officer Finney
Maggie Egan ... Mrs. Lewis
John Mitchum ... Preacher


To keep from being separated, four orphans get a homeless maverick to pose as their guardian.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama







Release Date:

25 February 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Regular Joe See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Richard X. Slattery's final role. See more »


Followed by A Family for Joe (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Heartwarming role for Granpa Mitchum
27 August 2018 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

The premise for A Family for Joe, the NBC tv movie that launched a summer television series, both in 1990, is four orphaned children who talk a homeless man into impersonating their grandfather so they won't be split up in different foster homes. Since I knew the title character in both the movie and series was Robert Mitchum, I was expecting to cry into my hankie when I watched it. The once hunky, tough, sex symbol was going to play a grungy, homeless bum who'd answer to "Grandpa"? Since he's one of my favorite celebrity boyfriends, I did want to watch this sweet-sounding, sentimental movie, even though I knew it would break my heart.

My goodness, he's still got it! In his first scene, Robert Mitchum picks a fight with a couple of '90s thugs and beats the pants off of them! He crawls out of his cardboard box, unfolds himself into his classic ramrod posture, and tells the camera who's boss. He may be playing an adoptive grandfather of four, but he looks barely older than he did twenty years earlier in Ryan's Daughter. Granted, he's only seventy-three, but that's like being eighty-three today.

There are a few sour notes in this cutesy family drama, but if you're a Robert Mitchum fan, you're not going to want to miss this one. He doesn't let the sappy script or lack of talent in the rest of the cast get him down; he puts his whole heart into his performance, making you wish you could take him home and clean him up, too! Although, he certainly is the cleanest-looking homeless person I've seen. In his first scene, his jacket is black and unblemished, his hair is silky and looks like it smells good, and his face is clean and barely unshaven. Still, it's NBC television; do you really want to see Robert Mitchum looking gross?

By far and away, the worst part of the movie is Charles Fox's music. This is a family drama, and one person in the cast tries to put some acting into his role, but the music sounds like pseudo-rousing 1980s jazz. My mother suggested a just punishment for the composer, but as it's not appropriate to repeat it, I'll just have to let you imagine what she said. Or, you could watch the movie and come up with your own torturous idea. If you do, at least you'll get to see Robert Mitchum in a sweet, endearing, heartwarming, and still tough, role-and as if it really was written into his contract all those decades earlier, he has two shirtless scenes!

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