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Resting Place

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by John Korty

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman plays the father of a black soldier killed in Vietnam in RESTING PLACE. When the soldier's parents seek to have him buried in an all-white cemetery, an army major (John Lithgow) investigates the man's death. … see full wiki

Director: John Korty
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Resting Place

Resting Place - 1986

  • Dec 4, 2009
Pros: good performance by Lithgow

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"Another soldier gone to war
Another story told before
Now it's told again
It seems the wars will never end"
~Stephens, Tozer

Although Resting Place isn’t a new film, and it deals with issues during the Vietnam conflict, I still found it interesting. For one thing I got to see John Lithgow give a performance that wasn’t ridiculously silly and he had a more serious nature in the film. Although it doesn’t state it is based on actual events, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if these, and/or all, occurred during this time frame.

Lithgow, playing the part of Maj. Kendall Laird, was performing his assigned task, as he had done many times, accompanying the body of a fallen soldier home to his family and arrange for burial services. When reaching the relatively small town of Rockville, AR, with the body of Lt. Johnson, he met his first obstacle when the town puffs decide that Lt. Johnson could not be buried in the cemetery. The boys parents, Luther and Ada, had purchased the burial plot from their good friend, Mrs. Eudora McAlister.

Why the hang up? The cemetery was a white cemetery and Lt. Johnson was black. Mrs. McAlister didn’t let that deter her because, when her own son was killed in Vietnam, Ada Johnson came to her side and helped her through her troubles. Now she wants to honor their son, Dwayne.

It appears, from talking to a good deal of the townsfolk, Dwayne was a special sort. Highly gifted and intelligent, he attended West Point before being deployed. Beyond that even, he was a good guy. A dear friend and helpful hand to all.

Once it got into the heads of the town puffs that the Lt. would not be in their pristine ground, a small editorial was published in the local paper. Not to bring dishonor to either side, simply expressing views. When Maj. Laird approached the editor and told him the Lt. was nominated for the Silver Star from the men that served under him, the editor told him to get some facts together and he’d print them too.

What started out to be the usual assignment took a darker turn once Maj. Laird starting talking to troops that served under Lt. Johnson, a mysterious and ominous story begins to form.

While this probably wouldn’t be a story that today’s world might enjoy, no action at all, it is still an interesting study of an era and attitude that I hope will someday be completely erased. Growing up and living most of my life in the north, the racial attitude was and still is entirely different than in the south. Coupled with this, we, in this film, are dealing with a conflict that already had so much turmoil around it and around the soldiers that served.

Losing one’s child is grim enough without the burden of facing a color line when all you want to do is put them to rest. Seriously, does the soil care what color you are? This film was nominated for 3 awards which included one for Lithgow for his performance. It shows no rating on IMDB. The film was directed by John Korty; written by Walter Halsey Davis and originally aired on television. The DVD had no extras.

Morgan Freeman played the part of Luther Johnson, the father. He carried almost a beaten attitude to his persona, like someone that is accustomed to facing life on the other side of the color line. He portrayed both love and compassion for his wife, deep loyalty to his sons memory, and a determination to follow through on the burial plans.

Joining Freeman was CCH Pounder as Ada Johnson, the mother. Bereft and beaten is all I can say about her performance. Several shots had no spoken words, just the hint of a trail of tears flowing down her cheeks said a hell of a lot more than a few words would. Neither she or Freeman had that much screen time but what they had they delivered.

Mrs. Eudora McAlister was primly and properly portrayed by Frances Sternhagen. One had no problem seeing her in this role as either the outspoken and staunch friend or the prim matron. M. Emmett Walsh had a small role as Maj. Laird’s buddy and advisor, Sarge.

This leaves us with John Lithgow as the last major performer, Maj. Kendall Laird. His very carriage wore well in the military uniform and he showed a determined characterization to investigate and bring to right both the life and death of Lt. Dwayne Johnson, as well as his burial. Again, I really appreciated him in this role as he took on the racial implications as well as military protocol.



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