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Nobodys Fool (1994)

Paul Newman , Bruce Willis , Robert Benton    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Nobodys Fool (1994) + Empire Falls
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Product Description


"Worn to perfection" is the tag line promoting this crafted character study. It describes Paul Newman, the resourceful 70-year-old lead actor, but not his character, Sully, a North Bath, New York, loner who totally emulates the negative definition of the title. Newman gives a brilliant performance (Oscar-nominated and winner of two critics circle awards) relying on his well-honed subtleties. The dramatics are simple: the return of his son (Dylan Walsh) and grandson, offering a chance to reconcile; odd jobs for a construction company he's trying to sue for an injury; and a comedic grudge match against the owner (a reserved Bruce Willis). North Bath is the kind of place, wrapped in winter (beautifully shot by John Bailey), where enemies are friends, marriages are shaky, and Hawaii is only a state of mind. This "town drama" of a blue-collar America offers the patient filmgoer a rich and rewarding experience. Another small gem from writer-director Robert Benton (Places in the Heart). --Doug Thomas

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good For What It Was, I Guess Nov. 14 2003
First, a disclaimer: it's really tough to watch a movie, let alone review it, objectively when you've just finished reading the excellent book upon which it was based. Upon reflection, this was actually probably a pretty good movie, for what it was, and I do agree that Paul Newman deserved his Oscar nomination. It's just that the book was so real, so convincing in its portrayal of its characters, that I couldn't help feeling that the movie was, well, wrong. Though I know the book was a fiction, I couldn't help feeling that the movie was betraying the truth that the book presented. As the scenes in the movie pieced together the highlights, I kept having two thoughts: "wow, this is going by too fast; are we there already?" and "but that's not how it happened!" At any rate, I'd like my review to be something a little more meaningful than just the self-important cliche, "The book was way better." Whether or not I will succeed is up to you. [end disclaimer]
The book was 550 pages long and rich in description, so I don't fault the movie for trimming story lines and collapsing others (e.g., Bruce Willis's character was a composite of at least three distinct characters in the book). In fact, this technique works surprisingly well for much of the movie; the story feels a little flatter, but the meaning is left pretty much intact. And I suppose that the filmmaker can be forgiven for softening up the title character and sentimentalizing him a bit in the very way that I pointed out the book did not. This is a Hollywood movie, after all.
I do find fault, though, with distorting the essential truth. Minor variations hurt the movie a bit throughout, but in one particular instance, near the end, a major breach significantly changes the whole point.
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This review refers to the Paramount DVD edition of "Nobody's Fool".....
The irresistable Paul Newman, in a role that was tailor made for him and the always wonderful Jessica Tandy(in her final feature film performance) will steal your heart(as if they haven't already)in the life affirming dramadey, "Nobody's Fool". The rest of the cast are no slouches either. It includes Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith,Josef Summer, Phillip Seymour Hoffman,Dylan Walsh and a performance by youngster Alexander Goodwin that will have you in awe of his extraordinary talent.
Wintry upstate New York is the setting for the story. "Sully"(Newman) is an aging down on his luck, jack of all trades(master of none),regular guy. He just can't seem to get a leg up... figuratively and literally(arthritis is getting the best of him).His life seems to be in a shambles. Abandoning his wife and son years earlier, still trying to eek out a living for himself,constantly seeming to have minor run-ins with the local police are his day to day exsistence. Yet with all these dark clouds over his head,there doesn't seem to be one person in this little community who could get along without him. When his now adult son and young grandson come back into his life, he now has a chance to do something right.It's a heartwarming and funny view and Newman will charm you right out of your socks!
The transfer to DVD is excellent. It is presented in widescreen(you won't miss a bit of the scenery),with a nice crisp, clear picture and beautiful colors. For sound you have a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1, or stereo surround and has English subtitles for those that may need them. I had a little technical problem with my copy. I could not seem to delete the subtitles no matter what I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A Great Small Film is On DVD June 23 2003
This is a touching film about small town failures who don't realise how many people count on them and how important their lives really are. Watching this movie you feel part of this blue collar, down and out town. Paul Newman's performance is among the very best he has ever given. He plays Sully with a irreverence and subtle sense of humor that makes this sometimes employed construction worker with a bum knee one of his most heartfelt characters. Jessica Tandy is his landlady who can see in Sully the heart and the man he truly is. There are fine performances by Bruce Willis and Dylan Walsh as his son Peter. Peter has just been fired from his job as a college English teacher and has driven with his wife and two children to spend Thanksgiving with Sully's ex-wife. Sully had abandoned the family when his son was growing up. But as the movie develops so does a bond and understanding between the two men. The most touching scenes are between Sully and his grandson.
The adaptation of Richard Russo's book is excellent. It captures both the comedy and the emotion of the novel. The photography captures the feel of a small town in the dead of winter. The movie pulls you in and moves you in special ways. You come to like Sully and understand him. In a way it also help you understand yourself. It is a movie well worth seeing. A small movie with a big heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films you probably haven't seen. May 15 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This is a gem of a movie that never created much of a stir when released. We are accustomed to perfect work from the likes of Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but director gets pitch-perfect performances from Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith (who was never better).
Nobody's Fool might not be a great film, but I'd argue that it is a perfect film. A film of character, not action, it opens up with quiet assurance and never puts a foot wrong. The writing is exceptionally intelligent, and you could watch it several times just to enjoy the witty banter between small town friends (including friendly enemies, played by Newman and Willis). But ultimately, there is a very serious point to this unpretentious movie. The big climax is nothing much in a way: Newman decides against running off to Hawaii with Melanie Griffith, but that act is an act of heroism and triumph over himself. He comes to realize, after a life of living just for himself, that he has ties of love and responsibility to several people more important than himself.
I don't recommend that you watch this film. I recommend that you buy it and then loan it out to all of the people in your life who mean something to you. They'll thank you for it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story and performances
This is a faithful rendering of the novel, which I also loved. Most of the wonderful characters are brought to life, even though the sub-plots are trimmed to fill the time... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jeff Pym
4.0 out of 5 stars Made the grade
Newman is believable as a senior living life on his own terms. Jessica Tandy is excellent also. A must have for Newman fans.
Published 10 months ago by Jeff O'Dacre
4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet, good natured comedy/drama character study with a brilliant...
This film wouldn't be nearly as successful without the wondrous
understated performance by Newman. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2012 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars I bore Sully's children
NONONO. Not Paul Newman, but the character he played, Sully. I cannot tell you how many people said he had nailed the charming ne'er do well, and Bruce Willis channelled his best... Read more
Published on April 10 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the book
This movie, like the novel of the same name, shows the life of a flawed but amiable character, Donald Sullivan, over a period of a few days in a small town in Upstate New York. Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by Kirk McElhearn
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites...
I love this movie...it is one of my all-time favorites for a variety of reasons. It features a wonderful performance by Paul Newman and a great cast of supporting characters, but... Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004 by Sean Fitzgerald
5.0 out of 5 stars Real life, real people; simply put...a really great film!
If you want to see how real people live then just watch this film. This movie is one of my all time favorites. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This DVD NOW
I won't wax poetic for 1000 words about this movie. If you are looking for a movie that is well directed, well acted, and just makes you laugh and walk away feeling good, get this... Read more
Published on Dec 5 2003 by JB
5.0 out of 5 stars AN OLD FRIEND
I have been waiting for years for this gem to be released on DVD.
Nobody's Fool is one of my favorite movies of all time. Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Newman at His Best
I loved this movie, which is both funny and moving, when I saw it in the theaters. Paul Newman has never been better and he deserved the Oscar--I think the problem was not enough... Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2003 by Gabriel Oak
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