Sometimes a Great Notion (4 stars)

Sometimes a Great Notion

(12) 113min (Optimum DVD retail)


Briefly seen in the UK under the title Never Give an Inch, Sometimes a Great Notion was a long gestated but never accomplished project by Sam Peckinpah before becoming one of the most unfairly underrated gems in the directorial canon of the late Paul Newman. Adapting the novel by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey, Newman makes a confident fist of painting a salty family portrait of the Stamper family, with Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Richard Jaekel and Michael Sarrazin putting the accent of blue-collar pride against the vivid background of Oregon’s logging community. ‘We’re all God’s children,’ runs Charley Pride’s theme song, but the film’s account of fractious familial existences resists any such bland homilies about outdoor life; it’s a tough, humane and – in one slow-burning sequence that reveals the hidden dangers of logging – haunting story about the limits of macho bravura. Minimal extras.

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