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Sometimes A Great Notion (1971)



Starring: PN, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Michael Sarrazin, Richard Jaeckel


Directed by: Paul Newman


Summary: The story of a logging family in Oregon and their stubbornness to not back down from how they work (or "Never Give an Inch", the original title of the movie and Ken Kesey's book). The locals are protesting falling prices by striking but the Stamper clan ignores the strike and keeps on logging, becoming town pariahs. When the prodigal youngest son returns home during this tension he only adds more fuel to the fire.


Quote: Harry Stamper (when the local movie theater owner threatens suicide): "I don't pay much attention to Willard Eggleston. He's in show business."


Trivia: When HBO premiered it's service in 1972 the first movie shown was Sometimes A Great Notion retitled as "Never Give an Inch" (the Stamper family motto). 


 The title comes from lines in the folk song "Goodnight, Irene": "Sometimes I take a great notion / To jump in the river and drown." 


Paul Newman broke his ankle rehearsing the "grab-ass motorcycle race" sequence and filming had to be postponed for a few weeks.


Paul Newman replaced Richard A. Colla as director.


Just before its release, there was a love scene between Michael Sarrazin and Lee Remick that was cut. This scene supposedly included nudity. In the final cut, their affair is only insinuated.


 The Newman Factor: It's unclear how old Paul is supposed to be playing in this movie, but at age 44, he's as sexy as ever. He's got that bravado of a confident man who knows he's in the right, but a vulnerability of someone who fears he may be doing the wrong thing. One doesn't have to doubt that it really is him beneath the dirt bike helmet, or piloting the small boat or even strapped to a tree. 8 out of 10


Rating: There are some flaws to this one, but they're all minor. If biographies are to be believed, Henry Fonda plays a character that is probably the closest to his own personality (Michael Sarrazin is a very easy stand in for Fonda's real son Peter). Even Lee Remick is a double for Joanne. The ending while powerful, seems a bit rushed but otherwise: 8 of 10.