Adapted from Richard Russo’s 1993 novel, the film captures the life of a small town, Old Bath, in upstate New York, through the foibles of Sully (Paul Newman), an out-of-work construction worker, who is resilient and always colorful.

At the time when his son most needed a father, he abandoned him. Healing comes to his son and grandson when they reach out to Sully, stirring dormant feelings in him that cause him to embrace a new-found fatherhood. He discovers relationships with his son and grandson that enable him to escape the self-centered life he had led and to enter a life of openness and joy.

During this journey, there is a parade of Old Bath characters that bring life’s reality to the town—a forgetful lawyer, a dull-witted cop, a hanger-on in need of Sully’s attention, a venerable and wise landlady, a lusty secretary, an abandoned wife, a shifty boss, and a judge friendly to Sully.

The film has many unforgettably hilarious scenes: The drama of appropriating a snow plow guarded by a fierce dog; players engaged in a strip poker game; and a woeful Thanksgiving dinner, celebrated with all the joy of a wake.

Besides Paul Newman, the movie features Jessica Tandy (in her last film role), Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The film was selected as one of the year’s Ten Best by the National Board of Review.

Paul Newman was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a New York Film Critics’ Circle Award.

Director/adapter Robert Benton was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay.


Richard Russo will participate in a Q & A after the film presentation.