Going Home


1h 37m 1971
Going Home

Brief Synopsis

An ex-convict who killed his wife while drunk tries to re-build his relationship with his son.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 17 Nov 1971
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, United States; Wildwood, New Jersey, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

One night, six-year-old Jimmy Graham wakes to find his mother dying of a knife wound inflicted by his father Harry. Due in part to Jimmy's testimony, Harry is subsequently sentenced to fourteen years in prison for the murder, while Jimmy is sent to a series of reformatory institutions and foster homes where he is emotionally neglected. Years later, Jimmy, now nineteen years old and living in Pittsburgh, decides to visit Harry after having had no contact with him during the intervening years. However, when he reaches the prison with grand expectations of their first meeting, Jimmy finds that Harry was released months ago. Vengeful about his mother's death, Jimmy travels to Wildwood, New Jersey to find his father, who is now working as a mechanic and living in a trailer court. While secretly watching Harry for several days, Jimmy reminisces about a beach picnic he and his parents took when he was a young boy. When Jimmy cried over the ugliness of battle scars on his father's leg, Harry, a well-respected war hero, gently comforted and joked with his son until Jimmy's fear was eased. In the present, Jimmy finally introduces himself to Harry outside the trailer one night, but his father is so shocked that he slams the door on him. However, Harry's girl friend Jenny, who lives in a Winnebago nearby, encourages Harry to greet his son. Although congenial Jenny tries to ease the tension by fixing dinner for them and trying to make conversation, the two men remain nervously silent. Conflicted, Jimmy soon leaves, then files a police report against Harry, insisting that his father's release is unjustified, but the presiding officer tells him Harry has completed his sentence and advises Jimmy to move on with his life. Jimmy returns to Harry, who offers him a place to stay and a job working alongside him as a mechanic. On the job, Harry tries to tell him stories about their shared past, but a sullen Jimmy childishly reacts by writing "beware of Harry Graham, who killed his wife" on the wall of a gas station bathroom on which they are working. Although Jimmy fantasizes that Harry will beat him with a crow bar when he sees the message, Harry remains silent after using the restroom later. Days later, Jimmy watches in a courtroom as Harry's parole officer, Bonelli, who has access to his bank statements, reprimands him for not saving money and beginning a sexual relationship with Jenny. After Jimmy leaves, Bonelli warns Harry to keep the visit with his estranged son short. When an indignant Jimmy asks his father why he takes Bonelli's abuse, Harry tells him that he acquiesces because he does not want his parole to be revoked. Later, Jimmy, assuming that Harry will come to Jenny's rescue, reports to Harry that drunken sailors are harassing Jenny at the penny arcade where she works. Harry is unconcerned, prompting Jimmy to take matters in his own hands and hit one of the sailors. Soon a brawl ensues, forcing the rugged Harry to take action to save his son. After the sailors flee, a detached Harry casually looks at Jimmy's wounds and walks away. Humiliated, Jimmy decides to leave Wildwood, but then loses his nerve and returns to Harry and Jenny. The couple, who are attempting to buy a house together, offer to give him a room after the purchase is completed. When the idea prompts only apathetic reluctance in the young man, Harry chastises his son for having no aspirations and only thinking of "broads." Later, Harry and Jenny arrange for Jimmy to take their friend Betsy out on a date, with Harry and Jenny acting as casual chaperones. After seeing Jimmy easily befriend Betsy with his seductive moves on the dance floor, Harry and Jenny leave Jimmy the Winnebago keys so that the young couple can be alone. Although Betsy is eager to have sex, the inexperienced Jimmy nervously refuses. Days later, while shopping at a nursery with Jenny to buy plants for their new home, Jimmy pessimistically remarks that the parole board will never approve Harry and Jenny's marriage or the house purchase and thus Jenny has no reason to buy plants to decorate it. Realizing Jimmy's resentment remains impossible to resolve, Jenny tells him that he and his father can never normalize their relationship and suggests Jimmy leave. Angered, Jimmy storms up into an attic in the nursery where dozens of fighting cocks are caged. When Jenny follows him, Jimmy, sensing her fear of birds, rapes Jenny there. Later that day, an excited Harry returns home to tell Jenny that the parole board has approved their marriage, but finds his emotionally and physically bruised fiancée unresponsive. When she locks herself in the trailer bathroom, Harry, assuming Jenny is having second thoughts about his past, admits that he killed Jimmy's mother and that he was wrong. Hearing his desperation, Jenny manically recites items needed for the reception to let him know she accepts the proposal. Meanwhile, Jimmy, still desperately believing that the past can be made right, returns to the house where the murder took place. Now a pizza parlor, Jimmy is refused entrance to the restaurant because a private bachelor party is in progress. After envisioning the image of his mother comforting him while they were living in the house, Jimmy calls Harry to tell him his location and apologize for "screwing up." Hanging up the phone, Jimmy goes to the basement where he violently rips open cabinets hoping to find his mother's belongings that he remembers being stored there, but discovers only restaurant supplies. Soon after, Harry arrives and listens as Jimmy wonders out loud if Jenny told Harry what he had done to her. Finally realizing that Jimmy raped Jenny, Harry gets Jimmy in a choke hold, but then releases him. As Harry gets in his car to leave, Jimmy asks why Harry killed his mother. Harry replies that he was drunk and did not mean to kill her, then offers to let Jimmy return home with him. After Jimmy makes a sarcastic remark and absent-mindedly asks what will happen in the future, Harry replies, "You get to be 20," and leaves without him.


Videos

Movie Clip

Going Home (1971) -- (Movie Clip) He Had This Nervous Stomach One-time professional bowler Harry (Robert Mitchum), paroled after 14 years in prison for murdering his wife in a drunken rage, is now sort-of employing his son Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent), whom he’s hardly seen in the intervening years, working on the Jersey shore, looking for common ground, in Going Home, 1971.
Going Home (1971) -- (Movie Clip) Why Do I Prefer Crisco? Recently paroled Jersey-shore ex-con Harry (Robert Mitchum) seems stunned at the appearance of his long-estranged son Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent), whose mother he murdered while drunk, at his trailer park, so he lets neurotic girlfriend Jenny (Brenda Vaccaro) handle the hosting, in Going Home, 1971.
Going Home (1971) -- (Movie Clip) Going Back To Pro Bowling? Having tracked his father Harry (Robert Mitchum), a Korean War vet, who’s just been paroled after serving 14 years for murdering his mother (Sally Kirkland), from Pittsburgh to a New Jersey beach town, Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent) enters a flashback, in which he’s played by young Jason Bernard, in Going Home, 1971.
Going Home (1971) -- (Movie Clip) Open, She's Always Talking About God Opening in near-horror style, the kid is Jason Bernard, the voice of the judge is not credited, Sally Kirkland is the mother and Robert Mitchum is the villainous father, the director is Herbert B. Leonard, best-known as the producer of VC’s Naked City and the original screenplay by Lawrence B. Marcus, in Going Home, 1971.
Going Home (1971) -- (Movie Clip) He's Been Out Since Last September Having learned that he’s not going to Vietnam, Pittsburgh-area youth Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent) decides to visit his father, Robert Mitchum, who’s been in prison for 13 years for killing his mother, their conversations, which may or may not have happened, running in his mind, in Going Home, 1971.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 17 Nov 1971
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, United States; Wildwood, New Jersey, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

Going Home (1971)


Robert Mitchum could afford to be picky. The indolent "Big Bad Bob" had, after a self-imposed hiatus, recently returned to the big screen in David Lean's 70mm epic Ryan's Daughter (1970). Now the 53-year-old actor was weighing offers for what would be his 87th film. One screenplay wanted Mitchum to play a jazz musician in San Francisco, and the other wanted him in the role of a murderous ex-con minding a trailer park in, as Mitchum recalled, "some godforsaken corner of McKeesport, Pennsylvania." Which movie would be a more pleasant location shoot was clear, but Mitchum was a little inebriated during the business meeting when it came time to put his name on the dotted line. "On their way out, I say I'll see them in San Francisco," he recalled. "I thought they looked [at me] a little funny. Do you know what I did? I signed up for the wrong f*cking movie."

That wrong movie was Going Home (1971), a dark drama redolent with sordid sexual menace. Written by Lawrence B. Marcus, a self-taught radio and screenwriter (his formal education ended in the 8th grade) whose previous claim to fame was the cult favorite Petulia (1968), the film is a father-son reconciliation drama with morbid stakes: Little Jimmy (Jason Bernard) witnessed his father Harry (Mitchum) slit his mother's throat with a broken bottle. Years later, the now adult Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent) goes to find Harry for reasons he can't quite articulate. Does he want his father back? Or is he looking for Oedipal revenge?

Director Herbert Leonard, a television producer who'd just moved to motion pictures after producing the Alan Arkin tragicomedy Popi (1969) so believed in this unusual, uncommercial project he agreed to work for a deferred salary. He rounded out the cast with Brenda Vaccaro as Harry's common-law wife (Vaccaro first attracted attention as the rich society lady who was Jon Voight's first paying customer in Midnight Cowboy [1969]) and Jan-Michael Vincent, whose sunny California good looks were then in full bloom, as Harry's son. (A young Sally Kirkland also appears in a bit part.). The movie was shot in McKeesport, PA, suburbs of Pittsburgh, and, most prominently, in Wildwood, NJ, a seedy seaside town whose boardwalk housed the bowling alley and arcade featured in one of the movie's most pivotal scenes.

The famously noncommittal Mitchum always underplayed his own talent, saying that as an actor he had only three expressions, "looking left, looking right and looking straight ahead." But in Going Home, age hasn't dimmed either his sultry, off-kilter good looks (possibly a product of his part-Blackfoot heritage) or his trademark air of laid-back self-confidence. It's easy to see why Jimmy can't make up his mind about his dad when Harry displays both paternal and antisocial behavior, not unlike the character Mitchum played in The Night of The Hunter (1955). In scenes with young Jimmy, Mitchum is attentive and fun, carrying the boy on his shoulders and provoking giggles from the child actor. He's also tender and trustworthy in scenes with Vaccaro, and his lack of vanity in displaying his aging, imperfect body only adds to his enduring sex appeal. But scenes depicting Harry's capacity for violence (including an assault on a car with a lead pipe) are still full of unsettling menace.

Unfortunately, director Leonard's noble gesture of a deferred salary was all for naught when MGM honcho James Aubrey decreed Going Home too long and removed 12 minutes, unceremoniously dumped it into four cities and then pulled the picture from release after one week. Even a lurid poster campaign of Mitchum standing over a prone woman while a child moaned in the background, accompanied by the tagline "His son still wants to see him hang," didn't stimulate any interest from potential ticket buyers. (This poor handling of Going Home's distribution so incensed Leonard that the director bought an ad bemoaning how Aubrey had "unilaterally and arbitrarily raped the picture.") Critical reception was also poor, with Pauline Kael dismissing Going Home as "an empty suspense film that exploits its star for fake humanity." But Roger Ebert hit the nail on the head when he decreed Going Home was "worth seeing primarily for the presence of Robert Mitchum."

Producer: Herbert B. Leonard
Director: Herbert B. Leonard
Screenplay: Lawrence B. Marcus
Cinematography: Fred Jackman
Art Direction: Peter Wooley
Music: Bill Walker
Film Editing: Sigmund Neufeld, Jr.
Cast: Robert Mitchum (Harry K. Graham), Brenda Vaccaro (Jenny Benson), Jan-Michael Vincent (Jimmy Graham), Jason Bernard (Jimmy, age 6), Sally Kirkland (Ann), Joseph Attles (Bible Man), Lou Gilbert (Mr. Katz), Josh Mostel (Mr. Bonelli).
C-98m. Letterboxed.

by Violet LeVoit

References:
Ebert, Roger. A Kiss Is Still A Kiss. Andrews, McMeel, and Parker, 1984
Tomkies, Mike. The Robert Mitchum Story: It Sure Beats Working. Ballantine, 1974.
Lawrence B Marcus obituary
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/01/arts/lawrence-b-marcus-screenwriter-84.html
Going Home (1971)

Going Home (1971)

Robert Mitchum could afford to be picky. The indolent "Big Bad Bob" had, after a self-imposed hiatus, recently returned to the big screen in David Lean's 70mm epic Ryan's Daughter (1970). Now the 53-year-old actor was weighing offers for what would be his 87th film. One screenplay wanted Mitchum to play a jazz musician in San Francisco, and the other wanted him in the role of a murderous ex-con minding a trailer park in, as Mitchum recalled, "some godforsaken corner of McKeesport, Pennsylvania." Which movie would be a more pleasant location shoot was clear, but Mitchum was a little inebriated during the business meeting when it came time to put his name on the dotted line. "On their way out, I say I'll see them in San Francisco," he recalled. "I thought they looked [at me] a little funny. Do you know what I did? I signed up for the wrong f*cking movie." That wrong movie was Going Home (1971), a dark drama redolent with sordid sexual menace. Written by Lawrence B. Marcus, a self-taught radio and screenwriter (his formal education ended in the 8th grade) whose previous claim to fame was the cult favorite Petulia (1968), the film is a father-son reconciliation drama with morbid stakes: Little Jimmy (Jason Bernard) witnessed his father Harry (Mitchum) slit his mother's throat with a broken bottle. Years later, the now adult Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent) goes to find Harry for reasons he can't quite articulate. Does he want his father back? Or is he looking for Oedipal revenge? Director Herbert Leonard, a television producer who'd just moved to motion pictures after producing the Alan Arkin tragicomedy Popi (1969) so believed in this unusual, uncommercial project he agreed to work for a deferred salary. He rounded out the cast with Brenda Vaccaro as Harry's common-law wife (Vaccaro first attracted attention as the rich society lady who was Jon Voight's first paying customer in Midnight Cowboy [1969]) and Jan-Michael Vincent, whose sunny California good looks were then in full bloom, as Harry's son. (A young Sally Kirkland also appears in a bit part.). The movie was shot in McKeesport, PA, suburbs of Pittsburgh, and, most prominently, in Wildwood, NJ, a seedy seaside town whose boardwalk housed the bowling alley and arcade featured in one of the movie's most pivotal scenes. The famously noncommittal Mitchum always underplayed his own talent, saying that as an actor he had only three expressions, "looking left, looking right and looking straight ahead." But in Going Home, age hasn't dimmed either his sultry, off-kilter good looks (possibly a product of his part-Blackfoot heritage) or his trademark air of laid-back self-confidence. It's easy to see why Jimmy can't make up his mind about his dad when Harry displays both paternal and antisocial behavior, not unlike the character Mitchum played in The Night of The Hunter (1955). In scenes with young Jimmy, Mitchum is attentive and fun, carrying the boy on his shoulders and provoking giggles from the child actor. He's also tender and trustworthy in scenes with Vaccaro, and his lack of vanity in displaying his aging, imperfect body only adds to his enduring sex appeal. But scenes depicting Harry's capacity for violence (including an assault on a car with a lead pipe) are still full of unsettling menace. Unfortunately, director Leonard's noble gesture of a deferred salary was all for naught when MGM honcho James Aubrey decreed Going Home too long and removed 12 minutes, unceremoniously dumped it into four cities and then pulled the picture from release after one week. Even a lurid poster campaign of Mitchum standing over a prone woman while a child moaned in the background, accompanied by the tagline "His son still wants to see him hang," didn't stimulate any interest from potential ticket buyers. (This poor handling of Going Home's distribution so incensed Leonard that the director bought an ad bemoaning how Aubrey had "unilaterally and arbitrarily raped the picture.") Critical reception was also poor, with Pauline Kael dismissing Going Home as "an empty suspense film that exploits its star for fake humanity." But Roger Ebert hit the nail on the head when he decreed Going Home was "worth seeing primarily for the presence of Robert Mitchum." Producer: Herbert B. Leonard Director: Herbert B. Leonard Screenplay: Lawrence B. Marcus Cinematography: Fred Jackman Art Direction: Peter Wooley Music: Bill Walker Film Editing: Sigmund Neufeld, Jr. Cast: Robert Mitchum (Harry K. Graham), Brenda Vaccaro (Jenny Benson), Jan-Michael Vincent (Jimmy Graham), Jason Bernard (Jimmy, age 6), Sally Kirkland (Ann), Joseph Attles (Bible Man), Lou Gilbert (Mr. Katz), Josh Mostel (Mr. Bonelli). C-98m. Letterboxed. by Violet LeVoit References: Ebert, Roger. A Kiss Is Still A Kiss. Andrews, McMeel, and Parker, 1984 Tomkies, Mike. The Robert Mitchum Story: It Sure Beats Working. Ballantine, 1974. Lawrence B Marcus obituary http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/01/arts/lawrence-b-marcus-screenwriter-84.html

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Filmfacts, Going Home was shot on location in Wildwood, NJ and McKeesport, PA. A July 29, 1971 Daily Variety article stated that the bachelor party sequence in the "Graham" family home was shot at the Allegheny County Workhouse warden's house. The film marked the feature-film debut of actor Josh Mostel, son of actor Zero Mostel, and the feature-film directorial debut for television producer Herbert B. Leonard.
       An December 8, 1971 Variety article noted that Leonard and the film's star, Robert Mitchum, complained about the final editing by then M-G-M president and chief executive officer James T. Aubrey, Jr., who did not give the film an opening campaign or any non-public previews. According to Filmfacts, Going Home, which was originally rated R, was quickly recut to gain a GP rating before its release. Aubrey cut twenty-one minutes from the film, including the role of actress Sylvia Miles, as a housewife involved with "Jimmy Graham"; several minutes from the rape scene; and one scene involving nudity. A modern source adds Parker McCormick to the cast. Going Home quickly closed after a brief unsuccessful release.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1971