I Never Sang for My Father
Reviewed in March 2010
Director: Gilbert Cates. Cast: Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman, Dorothy Stickney, Estelle Parsons, Elizabeth Hubbard, Conraid Bain, Daniel Keyes, Lovelady Powell, Nikki Counselman. Screenplay: Robert Anderson (based on his play).

"Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship" - zoom into space between GH & MD in b&w photograph, oddly portentous clong at title appearance; DS stuck with one of those "look what kind of man he is / you can't change him / look how he walks like a brigadier general" speeches in airport wheelchair; officiously giving directions; a song less than 10 min in, something about "taking a stranger's hand," with oddly handheld GH prepping dustcovers and living room; It would KILL your mother if you were to move away to California; you're her whole life; one of those impossible, arrogant blusterers whom we're meant to learn to respect; MD didn't get along with his father and recalls the story of his death in the first 15 minutes, out at dinner; "Still, he's a remarkable man" - "Good old mom"; Is there ANY reason for this movie to be shot in widescreen?; widower GH doesn't get to report about CA at dinner, because no one asks; sister Estelle Parsons cut off for marrying a Jew, prompting GH to admit to Norma/sexbuddy "I hate him," even though he hates to hate him; spacy-gazed monologues with plucked guitar strings about lost loves and being banished by misunderstandings and his father's disreputability; lunch at Rotary; "I get so fed up when people come after me saying your father is such a remarkable man" - then he must hate this script!; "A son shouldn't have to make his mother's life!"; "When the clouds hung low and dark for me..." - letter about late wife turns into memoir about himself; GH full of recriminations but also angry identification with the irrelevance and neglect of this Board of Education chief become a "nuisance"; "Your mother would have appreciated it, she was very fond of you"; EP does a good job swallowing her hurt and anger and building a quick fort; "Children, children, I don't want to interFERE with EITHER of your lives"; MD blushes and rankles but also trembles when GH finally raises his voice; MD: "You chose to leave your own life" (!); took care of himself at 8 and will do at 80; starts crying at accusation of incompetence - he's scared and hurt; GH: "The old man in me wants to extend some sort of mercy to that old man"; EP: "Excuse me for saying so, but I find that a lot of sentimental crap" - "He wants your balls"; David Lynch-y non-diegetic heartbeat and electronic music soundtrack underneath GH's visit to old folks facility; "It may sound brutal to say it, but - that's the other side of our miracle drugs"; depressingly over-deliberate handheld photography circling the actors, GH & MD in bedroom; Freeze frame on GH heading downstairs from loveless final exchange; rush of narration covering MD's final years of "speechless senility"; "But still, when I hear the word 'father,' it matters" (last line); bway cast: Alan Webb, Hal Holbrook, Lillian Gish, Teresa Wright C–

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Actor: Melvyn Douglas
Best Supporting Actor: Gene Hackman
Best Adapted Screenplay: Robert Anderson

Golden Globe Nominations:
Best Picture (Drama)
Best Actor (Drama): Melvyn Douglas

Other Awards:
Writers Guild of America: Best Adapted Screenplay (Drama)

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