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The Pursuit of Happiness (1971)

Michael Sarrazin , Barbara Hershey , Robert Mulligan  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Sarrazin, Barbara Hershey, Arthur Hill, Ruth White, E.G. Marshall
  • Directors: Robert Mulligan
  • Writers: George Sherman, Jon Boothe, Thomas Rogers
  • Producers: Alan Shayne, David Susskind, Ronald H. Gilbert
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002F3C6MU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,919 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pursuit of Happiness" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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Product Description

An alienated social drop-out accidentally runs over a woman in a rain storm. Though he can prove it was an accident, he refuses to cooperate with "the establishment," and is sentenced to a year in prison. With only a week left to his sentence, he gets involved in a knifing and manages to escape. He looks up his old girlfriend and the two fly off to Canada.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet Time Capsule October 2, 2009
If you enjoy the period details of the Sixties in Mad Men, you should check out this underrated (and largely overlooked) film by Robert Mulligan from 1970. Better than any movie I can think of, it captures the mindset of the generational gap of the Sixties. It is remarkable how the hero rejects the phoniness of the "Establishment" for its lack of honesty. Today's political climate and attitudes are so much more evil, full of lies, greed, and power grabs, that it makes 1970 look like paradise.

The product description is inaccurate. Pay no attention to it. The beauty of this film is in the details, the posters, the activism, the look of New York, the casual racism and sexism, the idealism of a sort no one has these days... Even the aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty is something that couldn't be filmed today, post 9-11.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok early 70's picture July 6, 2005
By Beth
Format:VHS Tape
Michael Sarrazin in a fine performance plays a young man who accidently kills a pedestrian with his car. He goes unjustly through the court and prison systems. His attitude is taken into account more than his actions. The radical mood of the movie is typical of its time. Barbara Hershey plays a supporting role as his pretty girlfriend. Ruth White gives a somewhat funny performance as his bigoted grandmother. 2.5 out of 3.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Film, Good Performances - It Came and Went February 26, 2012
I saw this on the bottom half of a double bill, the main feature being "The Anderson Tapes." It played for a week in L.A., then disappeared for several years until it showed up on commercial television. A lot of good people in it. Look for Robert Klein as one of those college radicals who puts his hands to his ears and shakes his head when he is "blown away" by anything "far out" and Wow!"

Glad to see it on DVD, but the "artwork" is horrible; it looks like a cheap exploitation film with the tight close ups; the VHS copy looked a lot more dignified. Why don't the studios just put the original theatrical poster on the DVD case? These "artists" with their "interpretations" of a film's content always seem to miss the point of the film. Let them create oversize pictures of Big Macs; that way, their junk will be appropriate and justified.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ignore the somewhat mocking suggestion of camp by the "Martini Movies" logo -- this is a fine movie about the American state of mind circa 1971, especially for a young man no longer sure of anything, other than his disdain for & despair over the phoniness of society. As portrayed by Michael Sarrazin in an understated but subtly intense performance, Billy Popper, unwilling scion of old money, has reached the point where even protest no longer seems worthwhile. The sheer absurdity of a life built on lies & empty appearances has worn down his soul.

And then his life is altered forever, as he accidentally runs down an old woman in a driving rainstorm one night. Suddenly his entire future is on the line -- but he seems to be the only one who doesn't much care, seeing this as one more accident in a universe that's apparently an accident. He's something of a more naive American cousin to Camus' Meursault, in a way.

I'll say nothing more about the story, except that it constantly goes in directions I didn't expect, wonderfully subverting the tired cliches of the standard Hollywood plot. Ably supported by a lovely Barbara Hershey as his girlfriend & Robert Klein as a slightly loose cannon of a best friend, struggling to negotiate the labyrinth of family & the law as represented by Arthur Hill, E. G. Marshall, Sada Thompson & Ruth White's acerbic firecracker of an obsecenely rich grandmother, Billy finally arrives at the only answer for him. It's one a lot of us will identify with, especially if we've had enough & too much of contemporary society ourselves.

It never made much of a splash, and it's been pretty much forgotten over the decades -- but here's a film that's honest about life in 1971, while managing to speak quite eloquently to the present as well -- recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty cool early 70s "B" Flick April 21, 2011
Saw this as a second feature on a double bill back in the 70s and it stuck in my mind. A bit dated but certainly the story is still relevant - a young guy (the "rebel") stands up for what he believes and gives up a privileged life as the price for his beliefs. Amazing to see Michael Sarrazin and Barbara Hershey when they were so young! As long as you're not expecting Shakespeare this movie provides a fairly entertaining 90 minutes.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth renting June 29, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Somewhat interesting story about a man who's life suddenly turns upside down. Barbara Hershey is hot!
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