When Timmy Cleary (Sheen), comes home from soldiering, hes greeted by the open but strained arms of his two parents, John and Nettie, (Neal and Albertson). Once considered sickly and weak, he has now distinguished himself in the service and is ready to begin a new life. His parents, however, are still trapped in the bygone days of early and unresolved marital strife and begin emotionally deteriorating through several drama packed encounters. Now mature, the young Tim Cleary finally understands the family dynamics that has played all throughout his boyhood. By the simple act of bringing his mother roses on behalf of his father, Tim realizes he may have destroyed his family, but is helpless to obtain resolution which must come from both his parents.
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I saw this film at 3am on Bravo and couldn't turn it off. For somereason both the play and the film adaptation never came across myradar. What a wonderful surprise to discover this gem. It is a fineexample, like "The Odd Couple," of how to stage a Broadway play for thebig screen. Though I haven't seen the play to make a comparison, thedirector is faithful to the pacing and staging of a play, while usingthe camera skillfully to enhance the meaning and drama. And theperformances! All three actors were stellar; they owned thesecharacters. They were exceptionally nuanced; not once did they playover the top or to the balcony, where other actors might have beentempted to chew the scenery to show the depth of the emotional drama ofthis play. Though filmed in 1968, it doesn't feel a bit dated, it holdsup beautifully as a relevant, poignant and very meaningful drama of anAmerican family.
This was Patricia Neal's comeback film, after she suffered from a major stroke a few years before this picture was made. She plays Nettie Cleary, a sympathetic, yet depressed mother and wife. She has been looking forward to the return of her son, Timmy, who left to fight World War 2, three years before. But when he comes home, Nettie and her husband, John ( wonderfully, played by Jack Albertson), are surprised by some of the things he has picked up during the war. John and Timmy have been arguing over business issues, real estate issues and even religous issues. Can Nettie possibly bring peace to her home? Jack Albertson and Martin Sheen reprise their roles as John and Timmy Cleary, from the broadway production. Irene Dailey is replaced by Patricia Neal, who was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Award, but lost. But Jack Albertson did leave with an award that night.
`The Subject was Roses' reminded me, in a way, of `Long Day's Journey into Night', as far as the strength in its ability to flesh out the family dynamic from a fragmented point of view. The father/son, mother/son, father/mother dynamics are all equally delved into and given true depth of feeling (which leads to my quibble about Albertson's Oscar win in the Supporting category, when he is clearly one of THREE leads) and the impact of the film's finale is beautifully rendered. As with many `stage to screen' adaptations, there is a stuffiness that can come into play and I saw that here, more so than in the 1962 masterpiece `Long Day's Journey into Night'. It is a minor issue, but one that is present throughout certain sections of the film, and the dated approach to the `night out' felt off-putting and awkward in the overall construction of the film itself. Albertson is outstanding and, in my eyes, best in show. His mood changes are perfectly timed and really flesh out the intensity of the film itself. Sheen is also very good in his role, and the magnificent Patricia Neal is beautifully inflected (the way she plays with her inner demons is flawless). If you enjoy deep character studies that don't offer an easy out (this film will not leave you with a warm feeling in your stomach) then this is certainly a film you'll want to check out.
This movie features Jack Albertson and Patricia Neal in brilliant portrayals of middle aged parents trying to cope with the realities of their own dysfunctional family. Sheen is also superb as an unwilling part of this messed up family. This is a must see for adults who like thoughtful, memorable plays!!!
Frank Gilroy adapted his Broadway triumph for the screen, apparentlyfreezing every original line and action into place until the resultsnearly resemble an assembly-line production. Jack Albertson won aSupporting Actor Oscar for recreating his stage role of sad, anxiousfather welcoming son Martin Sheen home from the war after three years.Talky, melodramatic, but superbly-acted family reunion featuring lovelyPatricia Neal as Sheen's mother (her first role after recuperating froma series of strokes). Gilroy's dialogue doesn't always flow naturally,and some of the give-and-take is puzzling and/or awkward (something alooser direction might have avoided), but the characters areinteresting and the film is involving and occasionally moving. **1/2from ****
This is a moving film starring a very young Martin Sheen. Set at the end of WW2 Sheen comes home an older and wiser man. How he and his mom and dad adjust to his return is very well told. Some excellent soundtrack music is more than matched by excellent dialogue and some wonderful photography.
This review is from: The Subject Was Roses (DVD) The movie has good, witty, occasionally " from left field" dialog. I'm from Spring Lake and enjoy a brief "walk" down memory lane when Patricia Neal visited the Monmouth hotel.
I'm supposing that when you deal with a three character play, expandedto five for the screen, everyone is a lead. It's strange to me thatJack Albertson was not considered for Best Actor as he has as much ifnot more screen time than Patricia Neal. And certainly Martin Sheen astheir son equals their time in The Subject Was Roses.The Subject Was Roses was a Pulitzer Prize winning play that ran for832 performances on Broadway starting in 1965. Albertson and Sheenrecreate the roles they did on stage and Patricia Neal replaces IreneDailey from the Broadway cast. Albertson won a Tony Award for BestActor yet he only one for Best Supporting Actor for the film. Gofigure.Albertson and Neal are Mr.&Mrs. Cleary who have a red letter day intheir lives in 1945. Their son Tim played by Martin Sheen has come homefrom World War II. He's been gone for several years, probably theduration of the American involvement in World War II. Absence has made Sheen see his parents in a whole new light. As itturns out they're not the happiest of people. Albertson's totallyconsumed with business and making a success for himself. He's so selfabsorbed that he treats Neal like a doormat. And in his culturalbackground the woman merely acquiesces to the men.I remember years ago a woman I knew was of Irish background and wasinvolved politically as the female Republican State Committeewoman ofher district. She was nice and popular and knew her place. When hermale counterpart was getting together with some cronies to pull a powerplay in the party in her county of Kings, she wasn't crazy about it.When asked about whether she approved or not she wasn't sure, but sinceTHE MEN are in favor of it, she would acquiesce.Patricia Neal stopped acquiescing after a few ugly arguments withAlbertson and Sheen. Her big act of defiance was to take $50.00 worthof accumulated change, get on a bus and have a big fling just gettingout and about for several hours. For her that was tantamount to adeclaration of independence.The Subject Was Roses set in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx which isstill an Irish enclave there, though not anything like it was in 1946is author Frank D. Gilroy's bittersweet memories of the place. I'd loveto know who the models for his characters were, hopefully not him andhis own parents.The only other nomination was Patricia Neal for Best Actress whichmakes Albertson in the Supporting Category equally strange. 1968 wasthe year of the tie between Katharine Hepburn for The Lion In Winterand Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. Maybe Albertson was right to be considered in the Supporting Categorypurely in terms of winning. Still he and Neal are a matched team ofmarrieds facing a most uncertain future when Sheen leaves the nest. TheSubject Was Roses was a nice slice of Bronx life circa 1946 and holdsup well today.
Director: Ulu GrosbardFormat: ColorStudio: Warner Studios Video Release Date: May 30, 1996 Martin Sheen, Jack Albertson and Patricia Neal star in this film, with few other supporting cast members.Sheen is a returning army corporal following the Second World War. Jack Albertson plays his father, a harsh, dictatorial man who is inclined to lay down the law in the household. His mother, Patricia Neal, is his long-suffering wife who manages to get her licks in. A dysfunctional family, to say the least.The young soldier manages to sort things out in the end. It is not, really, a surprise ending: rather as happy an ending as might be expected under the circumstances.They all played their parts well. Probably Albertson played his character best, although Neal was excellent as well. So was Sheen, to be fair. Patricia Neal was recovering from an illness when she made the movie, and Sheen was concerned about her health during a dance scene, but he said she did better than he had expected, and in fact had a hard time letting him lead.Joseph (Joe) Pierreauthor of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenanceand other books
Martin Sheen returns home from the war to the New York apartment of hisparents Patricia Neal and Jack Albertson. The return of the soldierbringsto the head unspoken hurts and slights that have flamed within this familycircle for years. Neal's first role after recovering from several strokesfinds her shaky yet determined as the long-suffering wife/mother, whileJackAlbertson is full of spit and vinegar as the husband/father who longs tobeking of his 2-bedroom castle. Sheen finds himself used as a weapon byeachof the parents against each other, yet he sees that deeper than thesparringand disappointments is a deep love between Neal and Albertson. There is atruly moving section of the film, when Neal leaves the family for a daywithno explanation and wanders along the beach while the soundtrack plays JudyCollins' haunting "Who Knows Where the Time Goes". I saw this film forthefirst time last year on TCM, and it has become one of my favorites, dueprimarily to the emotional performances of Neal, Albertson, andSheen.
Parents Patricia Neal (Oscar-nominated) and Jack Albertson (Oscar-winning)welcome back son Martin Sheen from World War II and the event leads toemotional fireworks for all involved in this intense and sometimesdifficult-to-sit-through drama from 1968. Albertson has ruled with aniron-fist for years and basically done whatever he has wanted to do, whileNeal has been stuck in a loveless and heartless marriage. Sheen has alwaysbeen somewhat unaware of all that had transpired due to being physicallysick for much of his youth. Sheen brings roses to his mother and say theyare from Albertson and this small, kind gesture starts an almost unendingstring of events that will affect all three of the key players and in theend happiness is not a certainty by a long-shot. The film is an intensecharacter study in the tradition of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".Albertson, known for comedy and sometimes uninspired performances, gives theperformance of his lifetime and easily one of the best performances of the1960s. 4 stars out of 5.
A very young MARTIN SHEEN plays a soldier returning from the war and thesmall apartment he shares with his parents (PATRICIA NEAL and JACKALBERTSON). Neal is excellent as the drab housewife, somewhat embitteredover her strained relationship with a husband who has never recovered fromthe Depression blues. Sheen finds himself caught again in the tensionbetween his bickering parents and the film is essentially a coming of agetale for the young man who has to cope with what seems an overwhelmingdomestic problem.Nothing is really resolved in the course of the story, but it's a realisticslice of life and is played earnestly and skillfully by its three maincharacters. It was Patricia Neal's first film after overcoming a long illness associatedwith her stroke. She looks the picture of a weary housewife burdened by thesorrows of a crumbling marriage and deserved her Oscarnomination.
A powerful adaptation of Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winningplay.Timmy Cleary has just returned home to the Bronx after fighting in WorldWarII. It doesn't take long, however, before he finds himself in the middleofhis parents' bickering.His mother and father, Nettie and John, are stuck in an unhappy marriagethat only seems to get worse with the passage of time. John has neverrebounded from the Depression, when his business failed, and, as a result,the couple has only barely scraped by over the years.But being away at war has made Timmy grow up and, for the first time, hestarts coming to terms with his troubled parents...
While this film adaptation of the play is a bit more dialog than reallife, that is the point as we learn the characters and what they havelived through.Patricia Neal, always noteworthy, comes through as the caring butsomewhat lost and unloved (by a faithless Jack Albertson). Martin Sheenas returning son from the war, and how this affects each of them insubtle forms.A lackluster apartment in the city, a few nights out to celebrateSheen's return home. Where we see Jack Albertson's tawdry affairs,alternate life, while he has made a success at business, his personallife is one of chasing thrills.Neal is not the duly accepting housewife, however. She takes a bus tripto the beach, there are several reflective scenes where she is alone,contemplating perhaps what her life may have been had she not married,had she taken that job at a law firm...etc. The what-ifs in life.Sad and disturbing with excellent performances all-around. Rarely do wesee films that touch personal emotion like this today, sadly. 101/10.
Coming back from World War II, Martin Sheen is greeted by his parentsas they really are and not the adult pretenses they orchestrated tobring up a child...It is a crash course in growing up, between fightingin the war and now being an adult and seeing things for what they trulyare..His parents (Patricia Neal and Jack Albertson) fought all theirlives to be one notch better than most people who experienced theDepression, they are proud of their summer home and their apartment inNew York City...They detest the term "Shanty Irish" because it servesas a resentful motivation due to what it represents. The parentsrealize the price they paid for assimilation into American culture!!Both of them gave up in life a long time ago, and they will remaincynical in their outlook in life because they are tired ofdisappointments winning out!!...Suddenly disillusionment is as visibleas the kitchen wallpaper!!! The roses Martin Sheen bring home to hismother (supposedly from his father) symbolize an uplifting emotion thatnever prevailed in the Cleary household!! (The parent's love andmarital bond was constantly in question!!!) This coupled with the fiftydollars in quarters that Patricia Neal had been saving all of her adultlife which she decides to take and spend in one weekend, creates aspark for a family always bludgeoned by mediocrity...The patronizingdemeanor to the mother, the placatory concessions to the father, andthe wry and sanctimonious disenchantment with the son, indicates ananger all three of them have for the fact that the entire householdsituation has dramatically changed without warning!! Martin Sheen hasnow become thoroughly aware of the fact that his parents' happiness hasabrupt and desultory conclusions!! The important bond at the end of themovie is the fact that they all love each other, and all three of themare willing to prove this to each other the hard way!!..What they trulyhad ambitions for will never happen, even probably for the son (MartinSheen) because failure in terms of egotistical accomplishment in thishousehold is handwriting on the wall. Adulthood is not about successnor sophistication, it is about acceptance..This movie is a superbcharacter portrayal...It encompasses a 360 degree perspective on whatfamily members go through to fully understand one another, thisincludes a very distasteful compromising forgiveness by way ofaccepting the frustration of unanswered questions and deliberateunexplainable shortcomings!! Human inadequacies of this nature areoften times neglected in a movie because the characters in a lot ofmovies are totally flat!!. "The Subject was Roses" was a film which wastremendously bolstered by well accomplished actors who thoroughlycomprehended their roles, thus doing an excellent job of depicting asituation that deals with emotional failure being the norm, rather thanthe exception to the rule!!! EXCELLENT!!!...I GIVE IT A 10!!!!
I never watched (much) of this movie when it was on TCM. I thought itwas a Viet Nam Movie. Today the channel was on and I let it go.Patricia Neal's birthday, I think. It seemed like it was a play, andfor me most plays are kind of boring. I guess I'm just a '50's actionkid and that's from where our current 15 second attention spans werespawned.Well, this one was cool. For one, my mind was muddled as I haverepeatedly misread the DISH synopsis's blurb as about a Viet Namveteran's return home to "bickering parents". Today it read "WWIIVeteran" and I saw the difference.But it was made in 1968. Seeing this flick in that light, as I rememberViet Nam and the Draft I could watch it as both a relic of the time andsurprisingly, as a well written study of the timeliness of thecharacters we are - then, as well as today. Timothy (Sheen) hadreturned in remarkably good shape. His parents had little to worryabout, and didn't, about how he had survived the war, "I nevervolunteered for anything, Dad", was one singular thing his charactersaid. I knew guys like this that were draftees from 1968. Life for aU.S.Army draftee could be mild or hot - assignments were random. Onecould get drafted back then or beat the game and enlist. For me, theenvied "Student Deferment" was not an option. I myself had a marginallyunique skill and as the Young Moderns say, "leveraged" that to enlistin the Navy. Or maybe they don't say anymore.If a good play could be made into a good movie, the director (UluGrosbard according to IMDb and I've never seen any of his other movies)should get a lot of credit. And play writer Frank D. Gilroy hit one outof the park with this one.
Basically a stage play set to film, Roses showcases some real acting talent.The talent referred to belongs to Jack Albertson (who one the Oscar forBest Actor), Patricia Neal, and a young Martin Sheen. Aside from two minorroles, these are the only actors in the play/film. So are they good enoughto hold your attention? You bet. This film just clips right along.Reminiscent of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", Roses is about the coldrelationship between a husband, his wife, and, to a lesser degree, theirson. There is no laughter, no touching, no warmth. There is plenty ofanger, denial, and despair. These people are pretty much totaldysfunctional. Do their conflicts end up being resolved? You tellme.
This review is from: Subject Was Roses [VHS] (VHS Tape) I had been looking for a long time for "The Subject Was Roses" on VHS or CD. I was excited to find a copy on Amazon and ordered it right away. When it arrived I was very disapointed to find it had been crushed a long the way. I wrote the seller but haven't ever heard back.
A fantastic movie about hate, love, growing up and growing old. What start out as simple characters become complex to the point of a tightly wound mysterious past that unravels like a sweater at the end. Great acting and writing.
It is quite a chore to sit through this film. Twenty-five years ago, Iread the play in college, and remember it as being an extremelyunpleasant experience. Sheen and Albertson recreate their Broadwayperformances, and the result may not be scene-chewing, but is certainlyover-earnest. This film was Neal's comeback after the stroke, and sheindeed fairs better than her costars, ironically.The characters manage to taunt one another endlessly. Of course,dysfunctional families are a dime-a-dozen, so it all comes down towhether or not you want to spend two hours viewing a protracted familymeltdown.