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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

O is For Ordinary People

 A to Z Challenge

A Month At The Movies

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter O

Hello and welcome back to A Month at the Movies,  my contribution to the A to Z challenge for 2023.

This year I am copying from a myriad of other A to Z  challengers by reprinting the same synopsis about my theme with every letter.  You can skip over this part if you want to.  

I love movies and have decided to share with you a movie each day that I have enjoyed to one degree or another.  With each entry, I'll give a brief synopsis of the film, share a positive and negative review from Rotten Tomatoes ( a website, I didn't use much at all until preparing for the challenge), discuss its resiliency (the theme of the A to Z challenge this year), and other tidbits like whether the film may appear in my top 100 film list, which I have been revamping this year. I think that's enough in the way of introduction, considering you'll be reading it (hopefully) 11 more times this month.

Film: Ordinary People (1980)
Director: Robert Redford

Robert Redford has long been one of my favorite actors.  Through the decades he has been in one outstanding film after another, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid  (1969), The Sting (1973), All The President's Men (1976), The Natural (1984), and Sneakers (1992), just to name a few.  It is very surprising to me, therefore,  that I admire Redford more for his work behind the camera as a director than his work as an actor. In 1980 Redord made his directorial debut in Ordinary People, the film version of the 1976 Judith Guest novel.

Positive Tomato: Ordinary People is rare moviemaking and easily one of the best films of 1980. But to spurt volumes of superlatives would not do it justice. Redford's film is deceptively quiet and subtle. Dann Gire - Chicago Daily Herald

Negative Tomato: The movie is about the harm that repression can do, but the movie is just as repressive and sanitized as the way of life it means to expose, and it backs away from anything messier than standard TV-style psychiatric explanations. Pauline Kael - New Yorker

The movie features Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, and Timothy Hutton as the Jarretts, an   "ordinary" suburban family still caught in the wake of a series of tragic circumstances. Judd Hirsch also stars as the psychiatrist who works with Conrad Jarrett (Hutton) to work through those circumstances.  

Resiliency: While there is much to be said about resiliency in this film, much of this movie's strength comes from showing a family failing to find that resiliency.  This scene shows that lack or resiliency in what should be just a simple family photo.

The direction by Redford is top-notch.  Each of the 4 main stars is arguably in the best role of their careers.  Mary Tyler Moore is known for playing vibrant and loveable characters.  She is amazing here as a woman seemingly incapable of loving her family when they need that love the most.  

The film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won 4.  Mary Tyler Moore was nominated for Best Actress but lost to Sissay Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter).  Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor. As seen here Hutton prevailed over Hirsch.  Hutton makes one of the best and briefest acceptance speeches I have ever seen. 

Redford won for Best Director.  Ordinary People also took home Oscars for Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  

Top 100: I'd like to take a moment to correct some things I've said recently in other A to Z Posts. Last week when talking about It's A Wonderful Life, I mentioned it was my all-time favorite film.  The truth is, I have 3 all-time favorite films that are pretty much in a virtual tie.   It's A Wonderful Life is one of them and if pressed I'll sometimes say it's my favorite.  Ordinary People is another one of those three.  So obviously it's in my top 100. The third film that shares the top spot will be featured sometime next week.

In yesterday's post, I made a comment about Northwest Highway saying that I can't really expect a film I don't watch very often to really be in my top 100.  After I wrote that I realized it's been a long time since I've watched Ordinary People.  This is because of some of the subject matter in the film, and also because of some family situations over the past few years.  However, this does not diminish my feelings for this movie.  My wife and I love this film and do hope someday to be able to sit down as a family and be once again captivated by this story.

A To Z Connection: Cary Grant's (North by Northwest) last film was Walk, Don't Run (1966).  One of Grant's co-stars in the film is Jim Hutton, the father of Timothy Hutton.  Ordinary People was the younger Hutton's first feature film.

Next Time: Power over past choices.       


Amy R said...

I've never seen those videos before how awesome. Thanks Dave!

Liz A. said...

Yes, this movie is bleak. I didn't see it until I was an adult even though it came out when I was a kid. I don't hate it. Not a favorite, though. (I have seen Walk, Don't Run. Interesting film.)

Janet said...

I forgot how good this movie was! I'll have to try and find it to watch again. I've had a crush on Robert Redford my entire life - LOL

Janet’s Smiles

Birgit said...

I have not seen this film yet and I love Robert Redford. I love his films like the Milagro Beanfield War. He does, what I call, silent films. Not silent movies but movies that seem slow paced but they work so well.

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