Sometimes a Great Notion (GP)


Paul Newman in Sometimes a Great Notion

Paul Newman in Sometimes a Great Notion Photo: Universal Pictures/Photofest

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Time Out says

Tue Nov 1 2011

Pity the stubborn Stampers. Or admire them; it's easy to do both. The rise-at-4am Oregonian clan, including gruff patriarch Henry (Fonda) and his boys, half-bothers Hank Jr. (Newman) and Joe Ben (Oscar nominee Jaeckel), refuse to join their town's lumber strike. The Stampers' go-it-alone philosophy---dismissing neighborhood threats from "pinko" unions and insisting on fulfilling a logging contract with an outside vendor---will prove to be its downfall. But damn if they won't go down swinging.

This film version of Ken Kesey's acclaimed Northwest opus is a dazzling oddity: simultaneously melodramatic and stoic, goofy and majestic, rousing and devastating. More than anything, though, this blue-collar-lit melodrama is defiant, which is the most apt way to categorize a movie that doesn't even agree with its own name (the opening credits trumpet "Never Give an Inch"---the official Stamper family motto). Some hard objects need only a light tap before they shatter, and when this family starts to come apart, the spectacle is breathtaking. Movies are lucky to have one jaw-dropping moment; this one has a string of them, right up until the final go-screw-yourself shot. Actor-director Newman steers the tonally baroque story with the same low-key technique he brought to acting, and the way he captures the lumberjack ethos practically puts calluses on the celluloid. It's not a classic, in the sense of being perfectly formed. But the craft work is one of a kind.

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Release details



US release:

Wed Jan 19, 1972


114 mins

Cast and crew


Paul Newman


Cliff Potts, Henry Fonda, Linda Lawson, Lee Remick, Paul Newman, Michael Sarrazin, Richard Jaeckel


Robert Wyman


John Foreman

Art Director:

Philip M Jefferies


Henry Mancini


John Gay


Richard Moore

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