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A Family Thing (1996)

Robert Duvall , James Earl Jones , Richard Pearce  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Price: $68.45 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones, Michael Beach, Irma P. Hall, Grace Zabriskie
  • Directors: Richard Pearce
  • Writers: Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson
  • Producers: Robert Duvall, Brad Wilson, Michael Hausman, Randa Haines, Scott Ferguson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2001
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059TFN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,079 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Family Thing" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

OscarÂ(r) winner* Robert Duvall stars with the legendary James Earl Jones in this powerful yet tender film from director Richard Pearce (Leap of Faith) and co-writers Billy Bob Thornton (Academy AwardÂ(r) winner** for Sling Blade) and Tom Epperson. "Fresh and thought-provoking" (Rex Reed), this touching story is steeped in life-affirming insights and down-to-earth sincerity. Duvall is Earl Pilcher, Jr., an Arkansas man who is about to discover the surprise of his life: the family he never knew he had. When he learns that he has an African-American half-brother living in Chicago, Earl heads north on a journey that will take him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. It won't be easy, though, since his brother (Jones) wants nothing to do with him. But with the help of their remarkable Aunt T (Irma P. Hall) and her simple wisdom, the men work through their long-held grudges and prejudices, gaining a greater understanding of each other andthemselves. *1983: Actor, Tender Mercies **1996: Writing (Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published), Sling Blade

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart warming family drama October 21, 2001
By Kali
I have to admit when I sat down to watch this movie I wasn't expecting much. After all so much has been written about crossing the color line in the USA and none of it has hit home for me, it seems that writers and film producers are afraid to tell the truth and either avoid the subject altogether or gloss it over in order to make it more palatable. However in "A Family Thing" there is no attempt to avoid the truth or gloss over the details and a story is told from the point of view of a man who one day finds out that his whole life has been built on lies. Earl Pilcher, played superbly by Robert Duvall is a white man living a white Southern life but with the death of his mother he finds that his family history is not what he thought it was. Armed with this knowledge he goes looking for his half-brother, Ray, played to perfection by the magnificent James Earl Jones, a man who has striven to bury the past, which includes his white half-brother. But Earl isn't Ray's brother for nothing and he proceeds to bulldoze his way into Ray's life and that of his bewildered family. Only the indomitable Aunt T, Irma P Hall at her crusty best is not fazed by Earl's appearance. She knows who Earl is the moment she meets him, and she's as blind as a bat to boot but filled with good Black Southern wisdom that has held her in good stead since the day her sister died not long after giving birth to Earl. This is a deliciously heart warming film with some genuinely moving and funning moments. I laughed and cried myself silly at Ray's attempt to keep Earl's identity secret from his Aunt, and Earl's shock when he goes to the supermarket with his Aunt and she tells the store owner that Earl is her nephew, and the store owner's expression because Earl is whiter than white. Read more ›
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked masterpiece April 25, 2003
By blue-59
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
When I looked over the video box and saw the fine cast, I rented this movie expecting some enjoyable but fluffy entertainment. However, this sleeper turned out to be a true masterpiece, easily making my list of all-time best. Within the first few minutes, Robert Duvall gives us a study in fine acting when he confronts his father with the mother's letter about their long-buried family secret. And how many people would recognize the authentic Southern slang when James Earl Jones declares, "I ain't studyin' him!"

The only flaw I can find in this picture is the jarring music that inappropriately breaks the mood to introduce the final credits. But that's the only one, a millionth of a percent. I will snap up the DVD now that it is available.

Good story, great cast, engrossing from beginning to end. So why didn't this movie receive more attention? Was it because it isn't the kind that generates huge box office receipts? Was it moviedom politics? Or did the reconciliation between brothers who grew up on different sides of the color line make the p.c. types, the ones for whom injustice and victimhood are the only valid racial topics, uncomfortable?
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This 1996 film has two of my favorite actors: Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones. And Billy Bob Thornton was one of the screenwriters. It also has an intriguing theme.

Robert Duval is cast as Earl Pitcher Jr, a 60 year old auto body shop owner in Arkansas. He's as southern as can be and the scene is set so well that we can almost feel the heat of the hot summer. His mother is dying and he rushes home to her bedside. A few days after the funeral, the minister comes to call. He gives Earl a letter that his mother asked to be delivered after her death. When he read the letter, his life changes forever.

The letter reveals that his mother is not really his birth mother. His real mother is an African American servant girl who was impregnated by his father. The baby was born perfectly white and the real mother died in childbirth. And so the white women raised the baby as her own. This has been a secret all these years.

In the letter, his mother reveals that the African American woman had an older child who was thought to now be a policeman in Chicago. She urges Earl to try to connect with his brother. And so, he drives his pickup truck to Chicago in order to find his black brother. That's quite a setup for a plot.

James Earl Jones is cast as his brother. And Irma P. Hall is cast as Auntie T, who is in her eighties and remembers everything. Oh, and one more thing. Auntie T is blind.

The two men meet and clearly don't like each other. And then, as Earl is leaving Chicago, his truck is carjacked and he is slightly injured. He winds up staying in James Earl Jones' house for a few days. Naturally there are complications. And this is also where the plot becomes a little predictable. There's an upbeat ending too, of course.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Family overcomes! July 30, 2007
By Tony W
I just finished watching "A Family Thing", being a 6 ft 4 inch, 210 lb Black man, I am glad there was no one at my house because I cried like a baby during the film. The film was extremely touching to me in so many
ways being the Grandfather of 4 biracial Grandchildren. This film is so
real, and my only regret is that I had not viewed it before today!
Family is everything to me!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The DVD was used but in good shape, this is a great movie and was ...
The DVD was used but in good shape, this is a great movie and was happy to be able to see it again and own it.
Published 2 days ago by Melissa K. Tacker
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Print domestically, so . . . .
...if you want to purchase this altogether exquisite film, consider e-bay for a $15 S.Korean dvd copy (or here for a bit more). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jrum C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie
Portions of this movie were filmed in my home town so I took a personal interest. Aside from that, it was a wonderful movie. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie!
Good watching for the entire family. I believe every American family should watch. They say that the USA is one big melting pot. This movie explains why.
Published 7 months ago by Melvin Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie
We all should not judge because all of us do not know what nationalities we have. I thought I was white turns out I am only 50percent white the rest is black and portugese
Published 9 months ago by Deenna I Baer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
I ordered this DVD for our Pastor, and he said he really liked it; he could watch it over and over again. Thank You for the fast and wonderful service.
Published 9 months ago by Judy
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm so pleased to now own this DVD...
... since I first happened to see part of this movie on television nearly two years ago I have wanted it. Read more
Published 10 months ago by K
5.0 out of 5 stars A riot
Don't miss this one. The acting is great and while it is funny, there is a lot of underlying depth to this movie
Published 10 months ago by msmartha
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for movie lovers.
This is a very hard to find movie. I was disappointed it didn't come in the original case, but to find it for this price made it okay. Read more
Published 13 months ago by jess7877
5.0 out of 5 stars Video
Like Robert Duval and James Earl Jones as actors. As brothers, too funny.

Some strong language.

The video arrived promptly, perfect condition.
Published 13 months ago by Callie
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