6.7/10
7,956
48 user 29 critic

Ironweed (1987)

R | | Drama | 12 February 1988 (USA)
An alcoholic drifter spends Halloween in his home town of Albany, New York after returning there for the first time in decades.

Director:

Hector Babenco

Writers:

William Kennedy (novel), William Kennedy (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Francis Phelan
Meryl Streep ... Helen
Carroll Baker ... Annie Phelan
Michael O'Keefe ... Billy
Diane Venora ... Peg
Fred Gwynne ... Oscar Reo
Margaret Whitton ... Katrina
Tom Waits ... Rudy
Jake Dengel Jake Dengel ... Pee Wee
Nathan Lane ... Harold Allen
James Gammon ... Reverend Chester
Will Zahrn ... Rowdy Dick
Laura Esterman Laura Esterman ... Nora
Joe Grifasi ... Jack
Hy Anzell ... Rosskam
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Storyline

Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them: she's sick, a pal has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped; visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. That night, out drinking, Helen tries to sing at a bar. Next day, Fran visits his wife and children and meets a grandson. He could stay, but decides it's not for him. Helen gets their things out of storage and finds a hotel. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, the film explores their code of fairness and loyalty. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ironweed See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$36,973, 20 December 1987

Gross USA:

$7,393,346

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,393,346
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The novel is included in the "Western Canon of Harold Bloom". Bloom is an American critic, teacher, and literary scholar, who is well-known for his studies on William Shakespeare and the nineteenth century romantic poets. See more »

Goofs

When Francis returns to his wife's house, the kitchen floor has 12-inch vinyl composite tiles (VCT tiles). While VCT did exist in the 1930s, they were only in the 9 inch size. 12 inch VCTs were not made until the 1970s. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pee Wee: [gathered around a fire barrel] Oh God, it's too damn cold out here. Hey, Francis.
Francis Phelan: Hey, Pee Wee.
Pee Wee: Have you come back?
Francis Phelan: Yeah. You, uh, seen Helen around?
Pee Wee: No. I haven't seen her in a couple days.
Francis Phelan: Well, I'll catch up with her.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Homer the Moe (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

He's Me Pal
Performed by Meryl Streep
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ephemeral, beautiful, heartaching, and soon gone
19 November 2000 | by copcigarSee all my reviews

_Ironweed_ haunts for a long time after viewing, so be prepared. I also suggest that you be employed while you view this one.

William Kennedy's novel was an extreme work of beauty, and as much as I enjoyed and respected the novel, I never dreamed a film version could surpass it. In some ways at least, I believe this film does. Streep is luminous, no small feat while playing a drunk (they weren't called "homeless people" back then). And although he's proved it again since, this was the first time most of us saw Nicholson act. Tom Waits is terrific and gritty, Carroll Baker comes out of semi-retirement as though this was the one role she had left in her to play, and mixes pain and determination in just the right quantities.

Babenco clearly had a vision, and displays a maturity I hadn't expected from him. Even the score, a couple of tunes used over the opening and closing credits will make your heart ache.

It's all pathos, and it's all good. Grab it while you can -- I had to go to Canada and get a used copy online to find it at all. It was worth it.


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