Starring: Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, Penelope Milford, Robert Carradine
Director: Hal Ashby
Summary: While her husband serves in Vietnam, a young woman falls in love with a disabled veteran
Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Voight)*, Actress (Fonda)*, Supporting Actor (Dern), Supporting Actress (Milford), Original Screenplay*, Film Editing
-Voight is the standout here, as he threads the needle between being too nice and overly-sympathetic and letting his rough edges make him too unlikeable. While playing a handicapped Vietnam vet is the height of Oscar bait, he fully deserved his award. Fonda generally isn’t my favorite and her having two Best Actress Oscars (this and Klute) feels undeserved, she’s good throughout the movie and carries her weight; I just think that her role could have probably been played equally well by a number of other actress. Finally, Dern, who mostly only shows up at the beginning and the end, is really good, especially at the end where he brings the kind intensity that the film previously lacked.
-This has one of the better sex scenes I’ve seen in a Hollywood movie, in that it’s both tasteful and it feels significant to the characters and the story.
-The movie in general feels lacking in bite or real emotional power outside of a couple of scenes. It feels like the people making the film wanted to both make a statement on how Vietnam veterans were treated and their feelings about the war in general but at the same time it never left its comfort zone and feels very safe, to the movie’s detriment. Even if it never bored me, the whole movie story-wise felt lukewarm most of the time even if I liked the characters and performances quite a bit.
-The soundtrack on this movie must have cost huge money, as it’s basically a greatest hits collection of the time period from the movie (1968): among others, here’s Hey Jude & Strawberry Fields Forever from The Beatles, Born to Be Wild, White Rabbit, For What It’s Worth, a Bob Dylan song and no less than seven songs from The Rolling Stones. While this is right on my wheelhouse musically, the songs really don’t really fit well at all because of how they’re used-why have these kind of songs play over normal, dialogue heavy scenes? The obvious comparison is American Graffiti, which used tons of songs from the 50’s to evoke its period to great effect, but here it just feels like they had a scene and just slapped a famous song over it and it doesn’t work at all.
Solid movie during the first wave of movies about Vietnam with strong performances and characters even if the story feels a little lacking in oomph.