Sunday, February 18, 2018

Raggedy Man

image(1981)
Directed by
Jack Fisk
Written by William D. Wittliff
Starring Sissy Spacek, Eric Roberts, Sam Shepard, William Sanderson, Tracey Walter, Henry Thomas, Carey Hollis Jr.
IMDB Entry

Raggedy Man is a low-key film with some great performances and memorable moments, dealing with the human side of

Nita (Sissy Spacek) is a divorced mother of two, living in a small town in Texas during World War II. She works as the town’s only telephone operator*, unable to leave the job because her boss tells her it’s frozen due to the war. Teddy (Eric Roberts), a young sailor comes to town, looking for a phone. He’s calling his girlfriend, who breaks it off.  With nothing better to do, Teddy remains, bonding with Nita’s two sons Harry (Henry Thomas**) and Henry (Carey Hollis, Jr.). But gossip arises as Teddy become friendly with Nita.  At the same time, a couple of the village tough me (Tracey Walter and William Sanderson) have ideas about what a divorced woman might want in a time when divorce was disgraceful. And then there’s the mysterious Raggedy Man (Sam Shepard), who lurks around the town.

Spacek is at the top of her form: vulnerable, shy, and frustrated by the difficulties of her position.  She and Roberts make a charming couple and the movie works as a slice of life of the time.  Sanderson and Walter are great character actors, brining plenty of menace to their roles.

First-time director Jack Fisk was (and still is) married to Spacek.  It wasn’t blockbuster, which isn’t surprising: Americans don’t flock to the type of character centered film this was.*** Fisk only directed a few more times before turning to some success as a production designer.

But this is a movie with a lot of good things, and a few surprises.

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*The old-fashioned kind, who has to connect every phone call.

**Despite the telephone switchboard, he doesn’t phone home.

***The ending may have been added to help counteract this. It has action and drama, but does contrast from the gentle observation of the rest of the film.

1 comment:

Hal Horn said...

Maybe Sissy Spacek's greatest performance, which is saying something.