Frank Capua is a rising star on the race circuit who dreams of winning the big one--the Indianapolis 500. But to get there he runs the risk of losing his wife Elora to his rival, Luther ... See full summary »
Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud, who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.
Harry Keach has been widowed for two years and works as a bulldozer operator on a construction crew. Despite having a strong work ethic, that working life is cut short when health issues lead to him no longer being able to do the job. Harry has a strained relationship with his two grown children: Nina, who, with her insurance salesman husband, seems more concerned about what they can receive in material possessions through her relationship with Harry; and Howard, who still lives with Harry. Howard is an aspiring writer, but as a person who lives in the here and now would rather hang out having fun than find work in a steady job when he isn't writing. Despite Harry loving Howard and Howard loving Harry, the strain in their relationship is brought to the fore as Howard can work but won't while Harry wants to work but can't. Especially while they still live together, the two have to come to a new understanding as they move into the next phase of their respective lives, Howard's which ...Written by
You see, it can be done. It is possible, even in the last decades of the 20th century, to make a good feature film that concentrates on character and eschews action. We don't need car chases to help us through the story, because we care about Harry and Howie and want to see what befalls them. Paul Newman co-wrote, directed and produced this absorbing tale of father and son, continuing his long tradition of intelligent movie-making.
Harry works the wrecking ball on a demolition site. He is a gruff, inarticulate fifty-something who likes his job. Howie is maybe 20, a dreamy young man who wants to be a writer. He has no real work, dividing his time between the car wash where he has a part-time job, his surf board and the family's hot tub, in which he does most of his writing.
And therein lies the conflict which drives this story. Harry was brought up not to question the importance of working for a living. His inflexible blue-collar morality is offended by Howie's lazy, self-indulgent lifestyle. Howie, on the other hand, grew up in a climate where self-expression and leisure activities count for more than the humdrum business of earning a living.
A medical condition forces Harry out of his job. Newman is impressive as the ageing, weakening man's man who is gutted by the loss of his livelihood, because to him it means the loss of his validity as a man. He sees Howie's vitality and intelligence and cannot come to terms with his son's lack of ambition. In one of their regular fights, Harry encapsulates the situation neatly. "I want a job and can't get one," he tells Howie. "You can, and don't."
Bright and personable, if a little too pretty in the John Travolta way, Bobby Benson plays Howie with enthusiasm. The contrast between the dour widower and his cheerful, energetic son is nicely conveyed. Supporting the two central performances are Joanne Woodward as Lillie and Ellen Barkin (Katie). Lillie is a friend of the family who develops a 'thing' about Harry. Her daughter Katie is a girl of easy morals whose relationship with Howie rekindles after a break-up.
Nice touches include the black screen at the very start which is shattered by Harry's wrecking ball, and the backlighting which gives Katie a 'halo' as she sets out her ethical position. I didn't like the too-convenient cheque which arrives from John Davidson or the ease with which secretary Sally can be suborned for sex. For me, Benson overacts horribly in the 'discovery' scene. Indeed, what happens to Harry is an unnecessarily dramatic event in this gentle, understated film.
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