We've always respected Harold Rowe Holbrook as an actor---witness Hal's 10 Emmy wins and one Oscar nod---but if there was ever even the teeniest quibble about just how good he is, we have three words: That Evening Sun. And please don't confuse this Imagine Entertainment release with Evening Shade, the TV '90s seires in which Hal co-starred with Burt Reynolds and Marilu Henner.
The film, just out on DVD and Blu-ray, tells a simple and strong story.
A man-strong, resolute-will not let his life disappear into the twilight. He will not let it vanish over the horizon. Instead, he will fight . . .to keep the things he loves, to confront the petty emotional robberies inflicted on the elderly. That Evening Sun is a tale of determination and hope played against the humid background of Southern gothic emotions. It got rave reviews---Variety hailed Hal's performance as a "career-highlight star turn as an irascible octogenarian farmer who will not go gentle into that good night."
And on a touching, bittersweet postscript, the film marks the last screen appearance of Dixie Carter, Holbrook's real life wife, who died shortly after the film was made . . . and to whom the film is dedicated.
Holbrook plays Abner Meecham, an aging Tennessee farmer living in a nursing facility where he has been placed by his son, Paul, who has no sympathy for a father's pride. But Abner has other ideas . . . and escapes to fulfill his dream of returning to his cherished farm and living out his final days in peace.
But when he arrives, he finds that his son has betrayed him a second time.
Paul has sold the lease of the farm to Abner's old adversary, Lonzo Choat. With the battle lines drawn, neither man is willing to give way. Threats are made, events spiral out of control and a startling climax is inevitable.
Based on I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down, a celebrated anthology of short stories from William Gay, and fraught with passion and courage played out against life's departing light, That Evening Sun is a portrait of a man who is not only intent on reclaiming his land, but his own life as well.
Get out the tissues.