The Subject Was Roses
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Welcome to the Cleary household. Here we have Mr. And Mrs. Cleary, a couple who have drifted apart ever since their son, Timmy, went off to serve in World War II. When Timmy returns home, he finds his home a strange and hostile place. Where he once enjoyed a close relationship with his mother, he now attempts to forge some sort of bond with his emotionally distant father.The anger and resentment between the married couple eventually comes to a boiling point and Timmy is forced to act as a mediator between his parents.
Originally a successful play on Broadway, The Subject Was Roses(1968) was directed for the screen by Ulu Grosbard, a former diamond cutter making his Hollywood debut. Patricia Neal was selected to replace the original stage lead, Irene Dailey, as Nettie Cleary while Martin Sheen and Jack Albertson repeated their Broadway roles as Timmy and John Cleary, respectively.Frank D. Gilroy, the playwright who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Subject Was Roses(1968), also penned the screenplay and wisely avoided the temptation to open the film up and make it more cinematic. Instead, he keeps the film small and intimate, playing up the claustrophobic nature of the setting in order to heighten the dramatic tension.
Jack Albertson, a former vaudevillian, walked away from the film with an Academy Award for Best Actor while Patricia Neal received a nomination for Best Actress. The honor was a personal win for Neal, as she had struggled on the set from memory problems and physical limitations caused by a series of massive strokes only three years before production. In her autobiography, Just As I Am, she describes The Subject Was Roses(1968) as a career milestone for her because making the film convinced her she was still every bit the actress she was before her stroke. She also described her fear of memorizing a five page monologue that she had to do in one take. But her momentary fright quickly gave way to pride as she successfully completely it without any problem.
According to Mason Wiley and Damien Bona in Inside Oscar, Frank Albertson , in his acceptance speech at the Oscar presentation, also paid tribute to his co-star, saying, "I╒d like to thank that wonderful, wonderful actress and a great woman, Patricia Neal. Later backstage, he added, "Frank Gilroy fought for a year to make sure I got this part in the movie and I shall never forget him for it; I've been kicking around this business about forty years and I'm not about to be knocked over by the red-carpet treatment."Also as a result of The Subject Was Roses, Albertson later remarked, "I get invited to a lot of pro-am tournaments now. Being an avid golfer, this has been the happiest year of my life."
Director: Ulu Grosbard
Producer: Edgar Lansbury
Screenplay: Frank D. Gilroy (based on his story)
Cinematography: Jack Priestley
Editor: Jerry Greenberg
Art Direction: George Jenkins
Music: Lee Pockriss
Cast: Patricia Neal (Nettie Cleary), Jack Albertson (John Cleary), Martin Sheen (Timmy Cleary), Don Saxon (Nightclub Master of Ceremonies).
BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Kerryn Sherrod