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Sommersby (1993)

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A farmer returns home from the Civil War, but his wife begins to suspect that the man is an impostor.

Director:

Jon Amiel

Writers:

Daniel Vigne (film The Return of Martin Guerre), Jean-Claude Carrière (film The Return of Martin Guerre) | 4 more credits »
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Gere ... Jack
Jodie Foster ... Laurel
Lanny Flaherty ... Buck
Wendell Wellman ... Travis
Bill Pullman ... Orin
Brett Kelley Brett Kelley ... Little Rob
William Windom ... Reverend Powell
Clarice Taylor ... Esther
Frankie Faison ... Joseph
R. Lee Ermey ... Dick Mead (as Ronald Lee Ermey)
Richard Hamilton Richard Hamilton ... Doc Evans
Karen Kirschenbauer ... Mrs. Evans
Carter McNeese Carter McNeese ... Storekeeper Wilson
Dean Whitworth Dean Whitworth ... Tom Clemmons
Stan Kelly Stan Kelly ... John Green
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Storyline

Set in the south of the United States just after the Civil War, Laurel Sommersby is just managing to work the farm without her husband Jack, believed killed in the Civil War. By all accounts, Jack Sommersby was not a pleasant man, thus when he returns, Laurel has mixed emotions. It appears that Jack has changed a great deal, leading some people to believe that this is not actually Jack but an impostor. Laurel herself is unsure, but willing to take the man into her home, and perhaps later into her heart... Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She knew his face. His touch. His voice. She knew everything about him... But the truth.

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Stranger Within See more »

Filming Locations:

Appomattox, Virginia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,104,624, 7 February 1993, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$50,081,992

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$140,100,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It was on the set of this movie that star Jodie Foster met her longtime romantic partner Cydney Bernard, who was working as a production coordinator. They had two children together and remained a couple until their 2008 break-up. See more »

Goofs

The fiddle being played at the homecoming dance is fitted with a chin piece, which was not used until the 20th century. See more »

Quotes

Doc Evans: [Laurel is pregnant] I told you to use the fertilizer in the fields, Jack.
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User Reviews

 
Underrated Civil War drama with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster
13 December 2016 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

Released in 1993 and directed by Jon Amiel, "Sommersby" stars Richard Gere as a Confederate soldier returning to his rundown estate in Tennessee and his wife, Laurel (Jodie Foster), after a long six years absence. Curiously, Laurel discovers that the war has changed Jack for the better. Bill Pullman plays his rival for Laurel's affections while James Earl Jones appears as a judge in the final act.

This is such a well-done Civil War drama, taking place just after the war in 1866-1867. The story is contrived, but executed believably with convincing performances. Contrived or not, something like this COULD happen, if you reflect on it. I can't say more because it's best that you go into the movie without knowing the revelations of the final act. The first half is low-key, but it's just a foundation for the realistic thrills of the mid-point and the suspenseful drama of the closing act.

The film runs 114 minutes and was shot in Virginia with the opening winter scene filmed at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, West Virginia.

GRADE: B+

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY ***SPOILER ALERT***

A clueless reviewer criticized the film on the grounds that "this story fell a bit flat for me when Jack, for some reason, doesn't tell the same (true) story (that clarifies the identity confusion) to the court, that he does to his wife in the final jail scene."

This is incredible because the movie plainly reveals several reasons why Jack didn't want to tell the truth that he wasn't really Jack Sommersby: (1.) The freed blacks and others who bought & farmed parts of his land would lose it; (2.) his wife & daughter would be condemned as an adulteress and a bastard child respectively; (3.) he "buried" Horace Townsend forever when he buried the real Jack Sommersby; he wasn't willing to "resurrect" that wicked loser, even at the cost of his life.

And (4.) If jack was proved to be Horace, and was released, another court would have arrested him on the grounds that he was a liar, an impostor and a thief. That court would NOT have released him on the grounds that he had found love and done charitable things while impersonating a dead man. He would have gone to prison and possibly even died for his actual crimes.

So dying for a cause he believed in, for people who respected him, made more sense than dying without any honor or legacy whatsoever.


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