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Year : 1987
Country : Spain

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RSOONSA  [ 8.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

Conceptually Very Near To Rockwell's Original Illustration, Honoured Here By This Luminous Film.

A work produced for television wherein all connected with it might be proud, this highly nostalgic and sentimental piece utilizes original characters and situations drawn from the imagination of its writer and director John Wilder, directly derived from a well-known Norman Rockwell illustration that occupied the 25 September 1954 front cover of the Saturday Evening Post. The painting represents a father and son seated upon an old pickup truck's running board, obviously waiting for the appearance of a train, the lad clearly excited about his forthcoming journey, his father solemn, and the action opens with the illustration's figures becoming animated as we see Lloyd Welles (Jason Robards, Jr.) and his son Lonnie (Doug McKeon) preparing to separate, valise-toting Lonnie off to a university, having high hopes for his future, as have had many such young men from U.S. farms through the years, and this tautly plotted and executed production depicts the sorrow to his parents Lloyd and Emma (Eva Marie Saint with a typically strong performance) that is caused by Lonnie's departure. Emma is dying from leukemia, a condition that she keeps from her husband and son; therefore, when Lonnie is at school (on an athletic scholarship), the scenario presents emotional trials and other experiences for him separate from her grim state of health, these having additional significance by their occurring in an unfamiliar locale, while tension between Lonnie and Lloyd establishes a foundation for conflict and resolution from within the narrative. Lonnie's character forms as he finds that his life as an adult will not be a simplistic one, and maturity will come about only if he reacts to crises in a forceful manner. The truths that he learns will plainly be shared with his parents as well as with his high school teacher, Grace Porter (Claire Trevor in her final film appearance), during the same period, while Lonnie's first serious romantic relationships are underscored. A rural house used for the Welles homestead, located near Rockett, Texas, will be recognized by some viewers as it was also employed for the primary setting for Robert Benton's PLACES IN THE HEART. This work is filmed in north Texas with most footage shot in and near Dallas and Waxahachie, with Lonnie attending Southern Methodist University (S.M.U.). The picture was completed after about one month's shooting in November of 1987, its kaleidoscopic episodes being developed at, among other sites, Waxahachie's rail depot (featuring the Texas Southern Railroad), the no longer extant Astro Drive-In Movie Theater, and Bubba's, a well-known restaurant near S.M.U., a favoured hangout for university students. Lonnie's growth as a man is trenchantly portrayed, through a well-constructed script, as having parallel elements with his father's as a youth, and it is this brand of clarity within the storyline that bolsters a viewer perception that dramatic events upon the screen are akin to commonly perceived reality. There is nothing less than proficiency in the performances offered by the players, with McKeon's creative ad libbing skills having particular value. As shall be expected, Robards and McKeon are standouts, while other top-notch turns come from J. Eddie Peck as Lonnie's closest friend and Erin Gray as his sweetheart. For this film that accurately provides a period setting (1950s Texas), collective plaudits must go to those members of the crew who are most responsible for such as costuming (Joan Thomas), hair (Nena Smarz), editing (Gary Griffin), as well as all other facets of design. A nicely organized thematic score comes from Jerrold Immel, effectively serving this well-directed, written and cast motion picture.

Weighted Rating : 7.0
No. Ratings : 1
No. Reviews : 1

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Ranked by Rating
1987 46
1980's 450
All-time 3189

Ranked by No. Ratings
1987 164
1980's 1236
All-time 7817

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