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Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980)

Bruce MacDonald , Maggie Renzi , John Sayles  |  R |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Price: $49.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Return of the Secaucus 7 + The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Bruce MacDonald, Maggie Renzi, Adam LeFevre, Maggie Cousineau, Gordon Clapp
  • Directors: John Sayles
  • Writers: John Sayles
  • Producers: Jeffrey Nelson, William Aydelott
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2003
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009Y3N3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,517 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Return of the Secaucus 7" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with John Sayles
  • Featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The visionary writer-director behind such films as Passion Fish, Lone Star and Sunshine State, OscarÂ(r)nominee* John Sayles has been at the forefront of the independent film movement for more than twenty years. In this, his 'triumphant directorial debut (Los Angeles Times), Sayles delivers an utterly engaging (Time) look at seven friends who reunite ten years after their radical college days for a dramatic, poignant and revelatory weekend. Hailedby critics as delightful (The Washington Post), irresistible (The Boston Globe) and a minor miracle (The San Francisco Examiner), Return of the Secaucus 7 inspired the later hit film The Big Chill and heralded the arrival of a brilliant new force in independent cinema. *1996: Original Screenplay, Lone Star; 1992: Original Screenplay, Passion Fish

John Sayles began his commendable directing career with this terrific portrait of 1960s counterculture survivors, now teetering on the brink of turning 30. A homegrown movie all the way, Return of the Secaucus Seven was made for around $60,000 of Sayles's own money (earned writing horror pictures such as Piranha). An effortlessly funny and thoughtful ensemble piece, Secaucus unmistakably provided the template for the bigger-budgeted The Big Chill: old friends reunite for a weekend to sort through fond memories, old resentments, and new problems. Sayles, longtime producing partner Maggi Renzi, and then-unknown David Strathairn are among the actors. The marvelous back-and-forth patter of the characters and the sprightly pacing show Sayles already had a sure sense of what he wanted on screen, and his mastery of the running gag is in place (the name Dwight won't ever sound quite the same again). This is the definition of "low-budget classic," from an indie pioneer. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chillin' with the Seven February 21, 2004
If you know only one thing about "The Return of the Seacaucus 7," you've probably heard that this obscure little $40,000 home movie from 1980 was shamelessly ripped off three years later by Lawrence Kasdan's hit "The Big Chill."
Both movies tell the story of a gang of former 60's activists who reunite for a long weekend, but "Chill," with its bigger budget, name actors and excellent soundtrack, became a cultural touchstone. "Seacaucus," on the other hand, has remained largely unseen for 25 years and, though it marked screenwriter John Sayles' directorial debut, it only recently emerged on DVD.

On the disk's commentary track, Sayles rightly puts to rest "Chill" comparisons, pointing out that the two films have the same format but are intrinsically different. Unlike the affluent yuppies of "Chill," Sayles' characters are crucially younger and less successful; overeducated and underemployed, they're blinking into the headlights of both the Reagan era and their 30's, which are rapidly approaching.
Shot on weekends with money Sayles earned writing Roger Corman horror movies ("Pirhanna" and "Alligator"), "Seacaucus" is a rough gem. His amateur cast isn't too comfortable in front of a camera and their lines feel stagey, but Sayles' writing was good even then. Despite its occasional clunkiness, this early homegrown film paved the way for much better later efforts, like "Matewan," "The Secret of Roan Inish" and the truly great "Lone Star."
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Warmth that the Big Chill Left Out in the Cold June 30, 2002
By A Customer
John Sayles is a wonderful storyteller, especially on film, and knows how to put together an ensemble of actors who can convey the spirit of his characters. "Return of the Secaucus 7" is far from a perfect movie and is really rough around the edges, but it is my favorite movie about a group of boomers coming together and affirming why they like or at least feel safe around one another and keep the connection. There is no cool nostalgic soundtrack just a ukalele and a barroom trio. The humor is sublte and charming. The plot focuses on what is rather than what was. It is as intimate as helping polish off as many eggs as possible around the small formica table and hoping that Katie and Mike invite you to stay one more night.
That is where Sayles came from and check out other movies like "Brother from Another Planet" and "Lone Star" to see where he is going as a very independent filmmaker.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like seeing old friends again September 24, 2003
I loved this movie when I first saw it in 1982, I was fresh out of college and it was like being part of the ideal reunion: many laughs, some drama, lots of people you'd like to see again. On DVD I was suprised at how much of the movie I remembered, how many lines seemed real, how much fun it would've been to be reunited with a bunch of old pals, and how like old pals these characters were. It's low-key, low-budget, and very real. Some of the performances weren't as good as I'd've liked (like Maura's) and some were better (like Mike and Katie). John Sayles' comment track was very interesting, so were the interviews. One little quibble: there are three scenes missing, all involving Lacie, their actress friend (two onstage, and the backstage meeting), couldn't they have been restored as well as the rest of the film has been? Overall, however, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better movie about friendship and the passage of time.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Indie Film May 24, 2004
'Return of the Secaucus 7" was my first. Independent film, that is. It is not an independent film the way you'd consider indie films of today. VERY low budget - and it shows, though that's not a bad thing. Overall, this film has held up well - which is pretty good 23 yrs later! Sayles did a great job w/the writing and directing - and even his acting is fine.
Released maybe two years ahead of 'The Big Chill', which I found cold, lifeless and built around a soundtrack - not a script. 'Secaucus 7' had a much more intimate feel - and lower key humor, but way more my style (though I didn't find myself as amused as I was @ 17 when I orignally saw it).
The cast is understated and good. It's amazing that more of them have not gone on to do more films of higher (David Strathairn to numerous things, Gordon Clapp to NYPD Blue', Adam LeFevre to many commercials). There is no one stronger character - all have their moments.
I do believe, there is at least one scene cut from the restoration comedy play they attend, but other than that, the movie is intact. One original song by Adam LeFevre ("Mean to Me") is actually very good.
The extras are sparse - w/just commentary from John Sayles and Maggie Renzi. Rent or buy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film Then, Still Absorbing November 15, 2008
RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN .... If you sort of enjoyed The Big Chill, then this is the "progenitor" of what The Big Chill SHOULD have been; the original recipe. Amazingly, this special, consistently-flowing, 1979-produced film, with engaging character development, does not seem extremely "dated" today, (with a refreshing absence of cell phone scenes, overplayed drug scenes, but including those "short-shorts" on the basketball & volleyball court scenes).

The production was quite advanced in its style of filming, you are mixed into the group dynamics via the unobtrusive and intimate camera work, devoid of the typical pretext, or presentation hoopla often used to force-feed viewers with some sort pre-packaged message, music, or mood set-up. Rather, simply, it's like you are a fly on the wall, and its director John Sayles lets his characters flourish in both humor and angst in a natural flow; it's almost as if the film was done in just one masterful take. Maybe it almost was. (It would be great to find out what those actors and actresses are up to now, my guess is that they largely took up interesting roles in real life decades later, not necessarily acting.) If any you are out there and link to this site, please chime in somewhere ! Director Sayles, who played one of the characters, (I won't reveal which one) went on toward critical acclaim and success in many later directorial projects.

I was fascinated with this film as originally shown with small audience draw in theaters nationally, and I tried to obtain a video copy about ten years later, as it was such a cult film, the video cost something like $40-50 to obtain then. Now, it's back into the "attainable" range. I still love this film, it is a pleasure to own the DVD, and I will enjoy it repeatedly every few years, now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Early Film by John Sayles
SO much better than "The Big Chill" that lifted John Sayles' plot line. This one has poignancy, depicts increasing inequities, and avoids the Big Chill's annoying, treacly... Read more
Published 10 months ago by East Coast Transplant
1.0 out of 5 stars Put-put Film Making at Best
Often compared with "The Big Chill", and getting numerous stars in many reviews, this film simply isn't even in the same universe with Kasdan's. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Stanley M. Gilbert
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring weekend viewing
Ten years after graduation, schoolies reunite to find something new of them through weekend and pillow talks.

Quite boring story.
Published 21 months ago by Michael Kerjman
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but Fun!
When this movie first came out, my wife and I loved it! We also jumped on the whole Secaucus 7 vs. Big Chill bandwagon, with Secaucus 7 emerging as the clear winner. Read more
Published on November 27, 2011 by Fontaine Potts
2.0 out of 5 stars Defines a segment of the Baby Boomer Generation
To me this defines the so called "Baby Boomers" to a tee. A bunch of coddled, selfish, "educated", self absorbed, hedonistic, psuedo hipster, pseudo intellectual, liberal, upper... Read more
Published on October 5, 2011 by Cwn_Annwn
5.0 out of 5 stars Order for someone else
I did not roder this for me. It was for someone else and the movie was not what she expected. Se went by the writer and thought it was like his other movies.
Published on February 14, 2011 by Marcia Meeker
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated but fun
Could this much-imitated movie (it inspired "The Big Chill") already be almost 30 years old?
This low-budget entry from 1980 ushered in the directorial career of John... Read more
Published on September 6, 2009 by Alan A. Elsner
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Movie
This movie deserves all five stars. It's beautifully done, subtle, real, and one of a very few pieces of media that REALLY captures the sixties: the companionship, the ideals, the... Read more
Published on June 5, 2009 by Judith Goldsmith
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start
Independent filmmaker John Sayles' debut film, The Return Of The Secaucus 7, released in late 1979, is a film that is typical of the low budget feel of such films from that era-... Read more
Published on September 19, 2008 by Cosmoetica
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible acting
I wanted to like this film, but I shut it off after about 30 minutes. I found the characters unappealing, and the acting painful to watch. Read more
Published on December 3, 2007 by A Reader
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