Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Jon Voight and Jane Fonda
COMING HOME (1978). Director: Hal Ashby.

Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda of Joy House) is married to Captain Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern of Family Plot), who is fighting in Vietnam. During his absence she decides to volunteer at a military hospital where injured soldiers are being treated and recuperating. One of those soldiers, Luke (Jon Voight of National Treasure) is an angry fellow with paralyzed legs, and someone Sally used to go to school with. The two are drawn into a friendship, and then a physical and emotional love affair, and then Bob comes home ... Although Coming Home couldn't have been made during Hollywood's Golden Age for obvious reasons [and very differing attitudes], one still suspects that this could have been a truly great film had it been crafted by, say, William Wyler. Hal Ashby [Shampoo] isn't quite up to the task, and some important scenes have less dramatic heft because of it. Still Coming Home does examine the varying attitudes of the country during the Vietnam conflict, the experiences of some soldiers when they come home bent and broken, the changing role of women and housewives, and adds a poignant romantic dilemma to all of it as well. The script sort of lets you down just when it most needs to be working, unfortunately. Jane Fonda and Jon Voight are okay -- Voight has a particularly good scene when he's talking to college students -- but Dern, in the least sympathetic role [until the end] pretty much walks off with the picture. Penelope Milford makes an impression as Sally's new friend, Vi, and Robert Carradine does the best he can with the under-written role of her mentally disturbed veteran brother, Billy. The soundtrack consists of some evocative seventies rock music, often used quite adroitly. A sub-plot in which Sally tries to get the women who run the hospital newspaper to run articles that may actually be helpful to the recovering vets and is rebuffed is important but dropped too quickly. Dern was also the murder victim in Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Ashby also directed Being There with Peter Sellers.

Verdict: Just misses being a great movie. ***.


angelman66 said...

One of the first "adult" films I ever saw...I was 12 back in '78. Was absolutely fascinated and riveted. I was also probably the only 11 year old who saw the movie Julia nine times...I loved (and still love) Jane Fonda.

I learned about how different sex and "making love" were from this film--lovemaking is not about prowess or performance, but about caring, touching, being deeply connected. Voight and Fonda's love scene is an indelible memory burned on my consciousness.

Thanks for the memory. Need to see this one again.

William said...

Hi, pretty heavy stuff for a twelve year old, and it will be interesting to see what you think of it today. Good points about the difference between sex and making love!