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Cannery Row

4.6 out of 5 stars 381 customer reviews

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(Jan 27, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cannery Row (1982)

Nick Nolte and Debra Winger star in this whimsical romance based on JohnSteinbeck's novellas Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.Among the derelicts,dreamers and outcasts living in 1940s Monterey, California's Cannery Roware Doc (Nolte--Hotel Rwanda, The Prince of Tides), a marine biologistwith a past he wishes to forget, and Suzy (Winger--Shadowlands, Terms ofEndearment), a drifter who takes up residence in the bordello across thestreet from Doc. They fall in love, but for these two strong-willed,independent people, romance is not going to be easy . . .


Director-writer David S. Ward’s 1982 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (with material from another Steinbeck tale, Sweet Thursday) has its charms, principally some top-drawer talent on both sides of the camera; the cast is headed by Nick Nolte and Debra Winger, Jack Nitzsche composed the music, and John Huston supplies the voice-over. In a previous life, Nolte’s Doc was known as Eddie "The Blur" Daniels, a star baseball pitcher in the 1920s who mysteriously gave up the game while still in his prime; now he’s a self-styled marine biologist with a predilection for octopi who makes his home on "The Row," a string of sardine fisheries in Monterey, California. There are a variety of colorful characters in this rundown ‘hood--a worldly-wise madam (Audra Lindley) and her charges, a bum (M. Emmet Walsh) and his buddies--but although it takes him a while to admit it, Doc only has eyes for Suzy (Winger), a newcomer to the scene who, by her own estimation, "ain’t got the class of a duck." The film relies mostly on these oddballs and their various idiosyncrasies and adventures, and Steinbeck clearly has considerable affection for them; it’s no surprise that some, including Doc, were based on real folks. But while Nolte and Winger have a certain squabbling rapport, the movie too often comes off as stagey (the dialogue), artificial (the sets), and glib. In the final analysis, Cannery Row isn’t John Steinbeck’s greatest book (at the very least, it lacks the heft of East of Eden or The Grapes of Wrath), and this effort, despite its good points, will hardly be considered the best adaption of the author’s work to the screen or the stage. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Nick Nolte, Debra Winger, William Bronder, Rosanna de Soto, Kathleen Doyle
  • Directors: David S. Ward
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Original recording remastered, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (381 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00198X0XQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,058 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cannery Row" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
First of all High School students out there who are required to read Steinbeck's book "Cannery Row" ...if you try to get by with just watching this movie and writing your report your grade will suffer! Oh, it has nothing to do with the quality of the film...I'll get to that later, it's just that this film is a blending of two of Steinbeck's books, "Cannery Row" and "Sweet Thursday." Both of those stories are set along Cannery Row in Pacific Grove/Monterey, CA, and have many of the same characters in them, but unless you already know the stories you may well include material from "Sweet Thursday" in your report on "Cannery Row," and...OOPS...there goes the old grade! So, beware! Now...on with the review...
Nolte plays "Doc" the main character in the story. His character is based on a real life person, a marine scientist named Ed Ricketts who lived and worked along Cannery Row (which was certainly not the tourist attraction in the 1930s-40s that it is today). You can, by the way, still see the building where Doc Ricketts worked if you visit Pacific's just down the road from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. OK, OK, enough history, back to the movie...
Nolte does a great job of playing the out of the way, but not really down and out "Doc." Things are going along smoothly until Winger hits the scene, then there's romance in the air, though it doesn't land until much later.
I suppose you could call this movie a romantic comedy, or you could call it a romance, or you could call it drama, or you could call it real life -- Steinbeck was like that -- he was into real life.
This is, I agree, an underrated film.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Looking for an exact replication of Steinbeck's reads on film? Keep looking. Want an entertaining adaptation of those same reads? Look no further. This is another film I never tire of seeing time and again. REALEASE IT ON DVD ALREADY!
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Format: VHS Tape
It's clear that the majority of viewers who've watched this movie disagree with the reviewer so disappointed by it's pacing and verisimilitude. I'm curious why anyone capable of scattering terms such as 'egregious contrivances' in their review of a light romantic comedy was assigned to anything based on Steinbeck's work in the first place. A populist romantic comedy is one film category where it may be wiser to trust the opinion of the viewers who're raving about it over the sneering technical quibbles of a critic armed with a thesaurus. Populist film based on populist fiction simply may not be the best assignment for any reviewer clearly unable to climb off what must be a most uncomfortable corncob. For ordinary folks not frightened by references to egregious contrivances and verisimilitude, other viewers who've seen Cannery Row unite in recommending the movie for it's performances by Nolte and Winger. M. Emmet Walsh outdoes himself as Mack, nearly as good a performance as his masterpiece in 'Blood Simple'. Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday were among the sweetist and funniest books that Steinbeck produced. Perhaps all the humor that the rest of us enjoyed in the film combining the novels was difficult to enjoy while perched atop that unfortunate cob. For Steinbeck fans, or fans of romantic comedy, this film won't disappoint. We join together in urging anyone suffering from egregious contrivance phobia to seek immediate help at the nearest competent proctologist.
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By Dave G. on December 28, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Some of you will remember when, if a broadcast movie wasn't quite long enough to fill a 2-hour time slot, the network would occasionally show a "Making of..." short. Nowadays, these shorts are relegated to the 'E' channel, which builds whole 'Coming Attractions' programs around them.
In any case, that's how I was first exposed to this movie. I was charmed by the comments of a little known Debra Winger and Nick Nolte about their characters and the development of their on-screen romance. I was also impressed with the filmmaker's effort to recreate the Cannery Row of the 1930's, on a soundstage.
No, it doesn't look like "real life". It's not a recreation of real life! It's a recreation of real life - as filtered through the author's imagination. I'm sure Ed Ricketts was a wonderful friend to John Steinbeck, but never quite as colorful and endearing as the pictures painted in his stories.
Granted also, the baseball pitcher subplot didn't exist in either 'Cannery Row' nor 'Sweet Thursday', but it's very effective in illustrating the movie's central theme. Which is, that like ourselves, these characters are always dealing with everything else which took place in their lives, prior to this moment in time. We can either run and hide from our past, or face it and embrace our lives for what they have - and may - become.
Like others, I'd love to see this movie available on DVD. Maybe then they'd include Dr. John's wonderful soundtrack, and I'd be able to see 'The Making of Cannery Row' short again.
...and John Huston's narration should have won him another Oscar.
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Cannery Row and Huston
Because of his distinct voice.
Jan 18, 2009 by Darrin S. |  See all 2 posts
DVD format
This is one of my all-time favorites. I suspect some of the Steinbeck purists aren't happy with this interpretation of his work, but it should be accepted on its own merits. It is a wonderfully entertaining movie with great performances. John Huston's narration is a delight, and it's one of... Read More
Jan 7, 2007 by Art Stithem |  See all 5 posts
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