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A movie directed by Hal Ashby

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Coming home isn't always the best choice

  • Aug 12, 2000
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One of the few Viet Nam movies I would recommend although I am sure it, too, is steeped in mistruths and falsehoods. At times it seems to drag except when Fonda, Voight and Dern are together, or when Fonda is in the hospital with the patients. Overall though I think it is a wonderful movie that deserved more awards than it received, but I am sure it must have been against some power mogul at the time.

The story deals with Bruce Dern, who is ‘Semper Fi' all the way, heading to Viet Nam. He leaves behind his wife, Jane Fonda, who has the itch to help the cause but no real training. She starts as a volunteer, like a candy striper, at the VA hospital and meets up with Jon Voight. He is a paraplegic with an attitude but soon discovers he and Fonda are old school mates and have a history together.

Fonda, ever faithful wife, goes to visit Dern when he gets an R&R leave and finds a changed man. The tolls of Viet Nam have done their damage to his spirit and his beliefs in the American way. Returning to the States, she finds Voight has been released and has resumed his erratic behavior. He chains himself (and his wheelchair) to a recruiting station to protest Viet Nam, she gathers him up and takes him home where they become friends - well, okay, more than friends but who is keeping score? Later, when Dern returns home and learns of his wife's affair, he flips out but is soon calmed by Voight's presence.

There is so much more of the story to be told but it is so convoluted and anything else I say will give huge portions of it away. It was finely filmed and scripted and the acting was above par. Fonda and Voight won respective Best Actress/Actor Oscars, as did the screenplay. Dern was nominated as best supporting but ignored, unfortunately. I don't know if I care for all of his roles but he was outstanding in this movie. The nice thing was that there were no super heroes, just regular people living life in a tumultuous post war era.

Of course the fact that Fonda was a huge activist during and following this era made the story have a little more pizzaz as people found it hard to view her in these roles. And she was so young and winsome at this time, with Dern seeming a little older and harsher, so they played off each other well. A truly wonderful movie.


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


When Sally Hyde's (Jane Fonda) husband, a ramrod-straight marine captain, Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern), is sent to Vietnam, she leaves the isolated world of the officer's quarters and begins volunteer social work at the veterans hospital. There her unthinking support of the war and her blindness to its effects are challenged by meeting the crippled men struggling to recover, psychologically as well as physically, from their time in country. Many, like Luke Martin (Jon Voight), now a paraplegic, are embittered and full of unfocused, uncontrollable rage, which he takes out on the prim, controlled Sally. Interestingly, they went to the same large high school, but she was a pretty, popular cheerleader type and he was just a guy in the back of the class. Gradually, as she changes politically (always signaled by changes in hair and fashion) and he recovers emotionally, they become friends and then lovers. This causes a sexual awakening in Sally that furthers her transformation from a repressed wife to an independent ...
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Cast: Tresa Hughes
Director: Hal Ashby
Release Date: 1978
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (April 16, 2002)
Runtime: 2hr 7min
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