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Sometimes A Great Notion [Blu-ray]

176 customer reviews

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(Dec 18, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Paul Newman makes his directorial debut in the sweeping saga Sometimes a Great Notion. Based on the best-selling novel from author and icon Ken Kesey (his follow-up to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), the story focuses on a two-fisted Oregon family that bucks their close-knit timber community to deliver a shipment of logs in defiance of a strike. In the process, one man is killed, the family patriarch Henry (Henry Fonda) is injured, and the eldest son Hank (Paul Newman) almost loses his wife (Lee Remick) to his half brother (Michael Sarrazin). Filled with complex characters and issues that still resonate today, Sometimes a Great Notion is an intense and riveting portrait of life set against the rugged backdrop of logging.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick
  • Directors: Paul Newman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2012
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0096W470W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,036 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Albert J. Miller on April 11, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
OK, in fairness; I came to this film on the strength of my long, enduring affection for the work of Ken Kesey. Sometimes a Great Notion, the novel, is as dense and intense a read as one can find out there by any (and I mean ANY -- Faulkner, Hemingway, the works) American author. I've read this superb novel many times, and savored every word with every reading.
...then I saw the film.
Again, in fairness; I had doubts that ANY film under 2 hours would begin to do justice to the novel. I was right. I had suspicions that perhaps Paul Newman and Henry Fonda weren't quite, well, BIG AND TOUGH ENOUGH to do due justice to the Henry and Hank Stamper father/son team. I was almost right -- physically, they weren't the looming figures that roared across Kesey's pages. But Newman and Fonda ain't bad either, not by a long shot. Their abilities almost obscure the fact that they don't fully seem like lifelong lumberjacks from the wild coast of Oregon in the middle 20th century. They seem like superb Hollywood actors who are acting like lumberjacks. But that's OK, too. Fonda and Newman break even in my book, in terms of how they portray the fictional characters. I can't fault actors for scenes that aren't there, and my biggest problem with the film was a lack of depth -- the novel has several parallel, ongoing story lines that all weave together with magic and drama. By nature, cinema is a more linear story-telling device in that regard. Kesey's magnificent command of language, and voice, and perspective, and verb tenses helps to define this sprawling masterpiece -- that's a tough sell on the big (or little) screen.
I wish the cutting room had eaten a little less footage. The romance between Lee and Viv is, essentially, missing in action.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on June 7, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Firstly, I cannot stress enough that one read the novel. It is one of the finest American novels ever written.
Kesey's superb epic novel with its shifting points of view and verb tense is far too complex a work to adapt directly to the camera's limited third person POV. Kesey's rich and dense narrative prose, while exceptionaly cinematic in its description and action ironically proves unfilmable.
That said, Paul Newman and his production team created a most admirable and solid, if very truncated adaptation of Kesey's excellent novel. It is near impossible to fit the novel's rumbling narrative into a mere hour and a half.
Unlike the more famous film version of Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey admires this filming of his work. It is important viewing on that note alone.
Sadly missing is the critical sub-plot involving a love triangle between Lee and Vivian. As a result, a great deal of Lee's motivation and narrative tension is lost. According to Kesey, the triangle was filmed but lopped off to save running time. Maybe it will come back in the DVD version.
The dialouge, while rather shallow and weak in spurts (much of Kesey's rich vernacular is lost- save for the brilliant aphorisistic interjection "Boy, Howdy!"), is effectively and evocatively brought to life by a wonderful ensemble cast featuring some of America's finest. Who better than Henry Fonda to play Newman's father. Richard Jaekel richely earns his Oscar nomination as the dim-witted but enthusiastic born again lumberjack JoBen. The famous drowning scene is heartbreakingly tragic and darkly comic and this owes directly to both the expert acting of Newman and Jaekel and Newman's own expert direction.
Newman spent a great deal of time in my native Oregon researching the part.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By M. Wood on March 27, 2007
Format: VHS Tape
Don't believe the editorial review by Marshall Fine. That's one of the most misleading reviews I've ever seen. The story is not a "mishmash", and it has nothing to do with LSD or anything psychodelic. He calls Newman an "ultraliberal", which indicates that his bad review was probably politically motivated. However, the story is not political at all. It's really a touching story about a family in crisis. And it's one of Newman's finest moments as an actor. Fonda's too. It was nominated for two Academy Awards. This movie used to play on HBO constantly. And it would probably do fairly well today if it were re-released on DVD.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I've read the reviews written by people who have no real experience in logging, and apparently in real life! No, it doesn't follow the book that closely, but what movie does? I have worked in and around logging and outdoor people most of my adult life. I have also worked with more liberal "soccer family" types, both for the government and within private forest industry. I've worked in southeast Alaska and in the humid southeastern U.S. This is a real movie representing real people and the real ideas of those people. Paul Newman has a gift for finding parts that fit him and represent the actions of real people. I've known many just like him, some born into the logging or construction industry, and some that found themselves there, even one philosophy graduate that found "real" life much more inviting than an artificial liberalism pushed upon him at the university. This is a movie about life, the good and the bad, and about the real people that live it.
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Sometimes A Great Notion [Blu-ray]
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