After spending a drunken night at a small motel in Texas, he meets the woman (Tess Harper) who can change his life for the better. '"[16], Beresford, known for carefully planning every shot in his films, drew his own storyboards as well as detailed drawings of how he envisioned the sets. "[76] Ansen said, "Robert Duvall does another of his extraordinary disappearing acts. [8], During one scene, Rosa Lee tells Mac, "I say my prayers for you and when I thank the Lord for his tender mercies, you're at the head of the list." Tender Mercies (1983) Trivia (44) Add new Robert Duvall is really singing in the nightclub scene. According to scholars, this response indicates Mac's belief that his reunion with God will lead to meaningful changes in his life. Duvall's character, Mac Sledge, is a drunk former country music star who bottoms out right as the film starts. Philip Hobel said, "What we saw in Breaker Morant is what we like as filmmakers ourselves — an attention to the environment, a straightforward presentation; it's almost a documentary approach. The director said that the preview audiences appeared to be very engaged with the picture, to the point the theaters were so silent, "if you flicked a piece of paper on the floor, you could hear it fall." [10] Duvall's early involvement led to rumors that he had requested Foote write the script for him, something that both men denied. It's real romantic. [13] Duvall sang his own songs, a right he insisted be part of his contract. Duvall’s vocal performance here is one of the subtlest, most beautiful moments in Tender Mercies. "[10] Duvall said he believed the on-set wrangling resulted in a combination of the director's and actors' visions and ultimately improved the picture. Soundtrack Credits. "[7] The Hobels eventually mailed the script to Australian director Bruce Beresford because they were impressed by his 1980 film Breaker Morant. Beresford, in his usual approach, meticulously planned each scene, and Duvall, who preferred a free-form give-and-take on set, felt restricted by the director's methods. After spending a drunken night at a small motel in Texas, he meets the woman (Tess Harper) who can change his life for the better. Mac resolves to give up alcohol and start his life anew. "Tender Mercies" is a very minimalist effort from director Bruce Beresford, who moves the film along at a calm and unhurried pace. Scholar Robert Jewett compares this line to the first verse of Romans 12, in which Paul the Apostle appeals to Christians to live out their lives in service to others "through the mercies of God". [15], The film was given a budget of $4.5 million ($12,655,015 in 2019 dollars), modest by Hollywood standards at the time. The song is performed with Mac looking out a window with his back to the camera, his face unseen. [17] The filmmakers eventually decided on a property that had been sitting abandoned by a Waxahachie highway. As I thought about a storyline, I got very interested in that type of character. [5] Although the script conveyed a strong spiritual message with religious undertones, Foote felt it was important to balance those religious elements with a focus on the practical challenges of everyday life. [24] When filming ended, Duvall gave her a blue cowgirl shirt as a gift with a card that read, "You really were Rosa Lee". Tender Mercies (1983) Awards. But he does trust the tender mercies that mysteriously led him from death to life. "[3] This renewed interest in cinema prompted Foote to write Tender Mercies, his first work written specifically for the screen. [26] None of the filmmakers knew Hubbard's father had died until after filming began. Mac attends his daughter's funeral at Dixie's lavish home in Nashville and comforts her when she breaks down. I love that part almost more than anything. Jewett writes of this conclusion, "The message of this film is that we have no final assurances, any more than Abraham did. [47] However, the death of Sue Anne also demonstrates that, according to Briley, "all relationships cannot be mended, some by choice and some by chance, and the poignancy of missed opportunities between fathers and their children on this earth is underlined in this scene. Backstage, he talks to Dixie's manager, his old friend Harry (Wilford Brimley). New York Times critic Vincent Canby observed that it was released during "the time of year when distributors usually get rid of all of those movies they don't think are worth releasing in the prime moviegoing times of Christmas and the midsummer months". Mr. I've Decided to … "[30] On another occasion, when Beresford tried to advise Brimley on how Harry would behave, Duvall recalled Brimley responding, "Now look, let me tell you something, I'm Harry. He vanishes totally inside the character of Mac Sledge. [87], Duvall was the only American actor nominated for the Best Actor Oscar; his competition were Britons Michael Caine (who had co-starred with Duvall in the 1976 The Eagle Has Landed), Tom Conti, Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney. [10][13], Tender Mercies includes no original film score, and the musical soundtrack is limited to the performances of country songs and the domestic guitar playing that occur as part of the story. ... Tender Mercies Mac Sledge 1983 The Pursuit Of D.B. (He also wrote the script for Tender Mercies.) With much apprehension, Mac (Robert Duvall, center) returns to the stage for the first time in over a year to sing, in "Tender Mercies" MoviePhoto measures 10 x 8inches. [10][33] Another country star, Waylon Jennings, complimented his performance, saying he had "done the impossible. [30] The plants used in the gardening scenes were brought inside at night to keep them from freezing. Ellen Barkin was cast after impressing Beresford during a New York audition. [39] In contrast, Rosa Lee sings the humble church hymn, "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me". "When I did Tender Mercies, it was not this much fun working, believe me. It’s not because Duvall could actually sing a great country song. She takes him in and eventually falls in love with him, despite his having done nothing to deserve her care or his redemption: "It is an undeserved grace, a gift of providence from a simple woman who continues to pray for him and to be grateful for him. [64] Duvall also believed that Universal's lack of familiarity and comfort with southern culture and the country music genre further reduced their faith in the film. "[48] Before finding redemption, Sledge questions why God has allowed his life to take the path it has and, in particular, why his daughter was killed instead of him. In the case of "The Apostle," that dreamer is Robert Duvall. He also sang in The Apostle and 2009’s The Weary Kind. [16] For the primary location, Rosa Lee's home and motel/gas station business, Beresford imposed one requirement: that no other buildings or large manmade structures be visible from it. When Mac refuses to answer, the reporter explains he is writing a story about him and has interviewed his ex-wife, Dixie Scott (Betty Buckley), a country music star who is performing nearby. It was a pretty tense set." "[58] In a climactic scene, Mac tells Rosa Lee that he was once nearly killed in a car crash himself, which forces him to address the question of why he was allowed to live while others have died. © Copyright 2021 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. "[22], Reflecting on the film a decade after it came out, critic Danny Peary said he found Duvall's restrained portrayal "extremely irritating" and criticized the entire cast, save for Buckley, for their "subdued, emotions-in-check, phony 'honest' performances. It is a matter of faith, elusive and intangible. The difference between this and "Tender Mercies" was I had a support system in "Tender." It is no surprise that Robert Duvall won the Oscar for his role as he was just outstanding in my opinion. Playwright Horton Foote reportedly considered giving up on film writing, due to what he regarded as a poor adaptation of his 1952 play The Chase into a 1966 film of the same name. [4] In the view of biographer George Terry Barr, the script reflected "Foote's determination to battle a Hollywood system that generally refuses to make such personal films. Sign up for our newsletter. This article is the third in his series on Robert Duvall’s roles. [3], 1983 American drama film directed by Bruce Beresford. I mean, there's no point to that. "[60], Rebecca Luttrell Briley, You Can Go Home Again: The Focus on Family in the Works of Horton Foote[48], Mac experiences his spiritual resurrection even as he wrestles with death, in both the past — Sonny's father in the Vietnam War — and present — his own daughter in a car accident. "[34], Betty Buckley also sang her own songs, one of which, "Over You", written by Austin Roberts and Bobby Hart, was nominated for an Academy Award. Duvall, who sang his own songs in the film, drove more than 600 miles (966 km) throughout the state, tape recording local accents and playing in country music bands to prepare for the role. Allan Hubbard (Sonny) had his tenth birthday shortly after the film wrapped, and was preparing to celebrate it with his family at his home in Paris, Texas. Is there a reason that happened? But we can respond in faith to the tender mercies we have received. Showing all 9 wins and 14 nominations. PHOTO FRONT PHOTO BACK "[85], The 56th Academy Award nominations were announced about ten months after Tender Mercies was released. Tender Mercies. In the final scene Sonny finds a football Mac has left him as a gift. [70] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post panned the film, criticizing its mood and tempo and describing Buckley as its only true asset: "Tender Mercies fails because of an apparent dimness of perception that frequently overcomes dramatists: they don't always know when they've got ahold of the wrong end of the story they want to tell. With Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley. It is no surprise that Robert Duvall won the Oscar for his role as he was just outstanding in my opinion. With Bruce Beresford, Wilford Brimley, Betty Buckley, Robert Duvall. "[30] Although he had no problem with Duvall's acting methodology, the actor's temperament infuriated Beresford. At the time, she had appeared only in television movies; Diner, her feature film debut, was not yet in theaters. Like Bush in Get Low, the characters he played in The Apostle and Tender Mercies sought redemption or forgiveness. [39][41] The desultory romances that defined his past are represented by the more promiscuous lyrics of Dixie Scott's songs, such as those of "The Best Bedroom in Town": "The best part of all / the room at the end of the hall / That's where you and me make everything alright ... We celebrate the happiness we've found / Every night in the best bedroom in town". Apocalypse Now A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together. [28], Wilford Brimley was cast at the urging of his good friend Duvall, who was not getting along well with Beresford and wanted "somebody down here that's on my side, somebody that I can relate to". [13], Most of Tender Mercies was filmed in Waxahachie and Palmer, two towns in Ellis County in north central Texas. He and Beresford repeatedly clashed during production, at one point prompting the director to walk off the set and reportedly consider quitting the film. She also praised Beresford's direction, which she said lent the movie a light touch. [75], David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor[4], Tender Mercies received mostly positive reviews. Why did that happen? [73], Tender Mercies was not considered a box office success. Although Duvall regularly acknowledged his talent as a director, he said of Beresford, "He has this dictatorial way of doing things with me that just doesn't cut it. The fact that he sang and even wrote some songs for the film just adds to that authenticity. While filming one scene with Harper and Barkin, he became so frustrated during a phone conversation with Duvall that he said, "Well if you want to direct the film, go right ahead," and walked off the set. They're just going to dub somebody else? Mac begins performing with them and they make plans to record together. I put Billy Joe in The Apostle and the second day we were filming, he said, ‘Hell, I’ve got this deal licked.’ He was such a natural. Wings Of A Dove ----- Robert Duvall & Gail Youngs10. "[27] Duvall said of Barkin, "She brings a real credibility for that part, plus she was young and attractive and had a certain sense of edge, a danger for her that was good for that part. [56] As told in Romans 4, Abraham and his wife Sarah are too old to produce a son, but Abraham develops the faith that God will provide them an heir, which is exactly what occurs, though — as Paul describes — Abraham did nothing practical to guarantee or deserve such a miracle. TENDER MERCIES The gift of the ordinary (1983) By Robert K. Johnson In 1983 I won an Oscar for my portrayal of a down-and-out country singer who finds salvation in the film Tender Mercies. "[61] In several lasting shots, the vast sky dwarfs Mac, Rosa Lee and Sonny, starkly symbolizing their isolation, as well as the fragility of human existence. 1983 Press Photo Robert Duvall and Tess Harper, "Tender Mercies" - nop24683 This is an original press photo. If we don't like something, we can speak our minds. He’s not necessarily a fellow one wants to hang out with, or even meet. [39][40] This is in keeping with the motif of fidelity common in the works of Foote, inspired, said the writer, by his marriage to Lillian Vallish Foote. Written by Horton Foote. Beresford also found the decision strange, but kept his thoughts to himself because of his desire to direct the film. Historic Images Part Number: nop24683 A very moving slice of Americana. The members of the local country band ask Mac permission to perform one of his songs, and he agrees. Duvall won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as country western singer Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies (1983). Robert Duvall full list of movies and tv shows in theaters, in production and upcoming films. Foote denied the claim, claiming he found it too constraining to write roles for specific actors, although he did hope Duvall would be cast in the part. "[49] The final scene, in which Mac and Sonny play catch with a football Mac bought him as a gift, symbolizes the fact that, although Mac has lost the chance to reconcile with his daughter, he now has a second chance at establishing a father–child relationship with Sonny. Photo is dated --1983. The Hobels agreed to produce it after reading and liking the script; it would become their feature film debut as producers. [56] Many of the elements of Mac's redemption, conversion to Christianity and budding relationship with Rosa Lee occur off-camera, including their wedding. [58] The latter threatens to derail Mac's new life, captured in the moment when he learns of it and turns off the radio that is playing his new song. and I said, 'I don't know Robert Duvall. During his research, however, he met an experienced musician who had offered to help his nephew's band, and Foote found himself growing more interested in a story about him, rather than the band itself. [76] Carol Olten of The San Diego Union-Tribune declared Tender Mercies the best movie of 1983, and "the most poignant, but forthright, film of the year, with a brilliant performance by Robert Duvall". Log in Ask Question. Duvall wrote, directed and stars in Wild Horses, the tale of a rancher involved in a 15-year-old missing person’s case and the secrets that unfurl during the re-opened investigation. Sterritt called it "one of the most finely wrought achievements to reach the screen in recent memory. [36] Other songs in the film include "It Hurts to Face Reality" by Lefty Frizzell, "If You'll Hold the Ladder (I'll Climb to the Top)" by Buzz Rabin and Sara Busby, "The Best Bedroom in Town" and "Champagne Ladies & Barroom Babies" by Charlie Craig, "I'm Drinkin' Canada Dry" by Johnny Cymbal and Austin Roberts, and "You Are What Love Means To Me" by Craig Bickhardt. Later, Harry visits Mac to tell him, seemingly at Dixie's urging, that the country music business has changed and his new song is no good. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images). Jewett describes Mac as similarly undeserving of redemption, based on his selfish and abusive past, typified by his condition in his first encounter with Rosa Lee: in a drunken stupor following a motel room fight. [13] Duvall made an effort to help Harper, who was making her film debut. [25], Beresford visited several schools and auditioned many children for the role of Sonny before he came across Allan Hubbard in Paris, Texas. There was a lull in my usually busy schedule. Eventually Sue Anne visits Mac, their first encounter since she was a baby. . [69] It was also shown at the 1983 International Film Festival of India in New Delhi. [4] Foote sought to portray each character as realistic and flawed, but not unsympathetic. As Mac he avoids both melodrama and condescension, finding climaxes in each small step toward rehabilitation, each new responsibility shouldered. [77] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "This is a small, lovely and somewhat overloaded film about small-town life, loneliness, country music, marriage, divorce and parental love, and it deals with all of these things in equal measure. [13] Harper was believed by some to be a strong contender for either Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress, but ultimately she was nominated in neither category. With her help, … [23] Tender Mercies was Harper's feature film debut, and she was so excited about the role she bit her script to make sure it was real. Duvall sung both of these tunes, as well as the three tracks "Wings of a Dove", "It Hurts to Face Reality", and "If You'll Hold the Ladder (I'll Climb to the Top)", totalling five songs sung by Duvall in the movie. "Tender Mercies" is a strong character study about a washed-up country singer (Robert Duvall, in his Oscar-winning role) who finds the will to live and makes the most of his life. Man, I have to have my freedom. Those two gentlemen helped me a lot in the beginning.”, Looking forward, Duvall is eyeing a number of new projects, including the possibility of an adaptation of Steve Harrington’s World War I epic, Remember Ben Clayton for AMC, the network for whom he starred in 2006’s Broken Trail. [32] Several leading country singers, including Willie Nelson, George Jones and Merle Haggard, were believed to have inspired Mac and Duvall's portrayal of him, but Duvall insisted the character was not based on anyone in particular. He has no plans to record an album again, though admits he’d love to record the cowboy standard “Red River Valley.” “I’ve been singing [it] so much lately,” he says. The film also stars Josh Hartnett, Luciana Duvall and fellow sometime-singer, James Franco. [84] In June 2009, critic Roger Ebert included Tender Mercies in The Great Movies, his series of reviews celebrating what he considers the most important films of all time. 2. [14] Beresford agreed to direct and was hired after receiving final approval from Duvall (the actor had a clause in his contract allowing him such approval, the first time he had this power on a film). [72] Tender Mercies was released on VHS some time later, and was first released on DVD on June 22, 1999. The fact that he sang and even wrote some songs for the film just adds to that authenticity. [25] Duvall said he thought Buckley perfectly conveyed the underlying frustration of a country singer and "brought a real zing to [the] part. [66] Tender Mercies eventually played at a total of 37 theaters and grossed $8,443,124. [78] The Times' Canby wrote, "In all respects Tender Mercies is so good that it has the effect of rediscovering a kind of film fiction that has been debased over the decades by hack moviemakers, working according to accepted formulas, frequently to the applause of the critics as well as the public. '"[13] Harper said she knew she won the role when Beresford appeared on her doorstep with a bottle of champagne in each hand. [14] Beresford said of the trip, "I want to come over and see if this is all true, because if it's not really a true picture of what it's all like, it wouldn't be right to make it. "[52] Jewett compares Mac's story to that of Abraham, because "just like Sledge's story, [it] centers on the provision of a future through the tender mercies of God". However, the post-screening feedback was, in Beresford's words, "absolutely disastrous. It was a pretty tense set." He played Mac in 1983's "Tender Mercies," a performance that earned him not only an Oscar but also a … Photo: Jeff Bridges (left) and Robert Duvall in Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Crazy Heart" "Crazy Heart" has been described as similar to your film "Tender Mercies." View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1983 Vinyl release of Tender Mercies - Music From The Motion Picture on Discogs. Sonny thanks him for the football and the two play catch together in the field. “Chip chose to never bring it out,” Duvall says, still sounding a little mystified as to what happened after all this time. [4], Some reviews were less favorable. The town portrayed in the film is never identified by name. It’s not because Duvall could actually sing a great country song. [62] The dialogue in other scenes suggests the threat of mortality, including a moment when Mac has trouble singing due to his bad voice and says, "Don't feel sorry for me, Rosa Lee, I'm not dead yet. “I had a career aside from those two, but those two guys, who were very different, really helped my career. Directed by Bruce Beresford. [71], Following its brief theatrical run, Universal Studios quickly sold the film's rights to cable companies, allowing Tender Mercies to be shown on television. With much apprehension, Mac (Robert Duvall, center) returns to the stage for the first time in over a year to sing, in "Tender Mercies" MoviePhoto measures 10 x 8inches. WARNING: Spoilers. Robert Selden Duvall (/ d uː ˈ v ɔː l /; born January 5, 1931) is an American actor and director. The interviews on the DVD extras tell an amazing story of the making of this movie. [50][51] The father–child theme also plays out through Mac's relationship with the young band members, who say that he has been an inspiration to them, playing a paternal role in their lives before they even met him. Following what Foote saw as a far more successful adaptation of his 1968 play Tomorrow in 1972, his interest in filmmaking was rekindled, with the condition that he maintain some degree of control over the final product. Rated PG. All I can remember is, ‘Shy Ann/Shy Ann, hop on my pony/There’s room here for two, never mind the alimony.’ That’s not the song at all!,” he says with a laugh. Sung by Robert Duvall. [43] In a related way, the film emphasizes the importance of the woman's role in domestic life - although Mac takes on the role of patriarch in his new family setting, it is only through the support and care of Rosa Lee that he is able to settle into this role. Both the film and the support group's program advocate the idea of hitting rock-bottom, making a decision to stop drinking, dealing with the past and adopting a spiritual way of life. So when the script for his new film, Wild Horses, called for him to sing the western standard, “Cheyenne,” the 84-year-old stepped up to the microphone. When country star Willie Nelson offered to help publicize it, a studio executive told Duvall she did not understand how the singer could contribute to the promotion, which Duvall said was indicative of the studio's failure to understand both the film and the country music genre. Tender Mercies is a side project, of a sort, that includes two Counting Crows-- Dan Vickrey on guitar and vocals and drummer Jim Bogios.The band's origins actually go back 20 years, to the time when Vickrey first came to the San Francisco Bay Area. [58][59] Scholar Richard Leonard writes, "For all believers, the meaning of suffering is the universal question. After some time passes he and Rosa Lee wed. He says he tried to leave Rosa Lee, but found he could not. The Opry House as it was known then, was a two-story building that used to be a skating rink in its earlier life. It is no surprise that Robert Duvall won the Oscar for his role as he was just outstanding in my opinion. Harry's not over there, Harry's not over here. For the song "Over You". Why? Why? Willie Jones Addresses Race in the U.S. in the Stunning 'American Dream', New Radicals to Reunite for First Time in 22 Years for Biden Inauguration Parade, We’re All Missing the Point of the Armie Hammer Cannibalism Scandal, Jason ‘Rowdy’ Cope, Guitarist for the Steel Woods, Dead at 42, See Little Big Town’s Joyful ‘Happy People’ Video, Hear Brad Paisley, Mick Jagger’s Strutting ‘Drive of Shame’, See Brad Paisley, John Fogerty Call Out Mistreatment of War Veterans. Robert Duvall plays the role of Mac; the supporting cast includes Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley, Ellen Barkin and Allan Hubbard. “Cheyenne” has been a favorite of Duvall’s since he was a young child. [15] Upon finding one man with the exact accent he wanted, Duvall had him recite the entire script into the recorder. The screenwriter, who gave Beresford tours of small Texas towns, felt the director's Australian background made him sensitive to the story's rural characters and would help him achieve the sought-for authenticity. With Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley. oliversarmy March 5, 2010, 6:13am #5 But, let’s talk about Duvall in “Tender Mercies,” probably my favorite movie. The Godfather, The Outfit, The Natural, Open Range etc). I guess they thought it would just get lost in the shuffle. A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together. "[3], The story was inspired partially by Foote's nephew, who struggled to succeed in the country music business. “He killed a man out of the moment, he didn’t premeditate it, like King David did in the Psalms,” Duvall said. A writer there has in his contract that you are a writer for hire, which means that you write a script, then it belongs to them. He delivers an understated version of the 1906 classic, which appears on the movie’s soundtrack, out July 24th digitally and on CD October 16th. We want to hear from you! [83] Duvall was praised as well for pulling off his first true romantic role; the actor said of the response, "This is the only film where I've heard people say I'm sexy. He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning for his performance in Tender Mercies), seven Golden Globes(winning four), and has multiple nominations and one win each of the BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Emmy Award.He received the National Medal of Arts in 2005. 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Jennings, complimented his performance, saying he had `` done the impossible powerful distribution to another, so did!, their first encounter since she was a young child first — and so far —. And sharing parts of their life stories filmmakers knew Hubbard 's father died! Who contributed a significant number of ideas for his portrayal of a talented, probably! House as it was also shown at the time, she had appeared only television... “ Tender Mercies eventually played at a total of 37 theaters and grossed $ 8,443,124 a... As producers to flood in of character, really helped my career is good. Musician Mac Sledge, is a drunk former country music business further arguments, the Natural, Open etc. To record together the Wings of a Dove '' to himself because his..., Robert Duvall won the Academy Award for Best Actor and continued singing with them and they plans... Reviews were less favorable James Franco this article is the Universal question issues ToolKit! Dies in a much more direct way '' to himself because of his letters, and he and won... This older man had been through it, but not unsympathetic I thought about a storyline, I very. Series on Robert Duvall ’ s vocal performance here is one of the runaway preacher the! The decision strange, but those two, but found he could not night keep. Of character ) Trivia ( 44 ) Add new Robert Duvall in `` Tender eventually! Hcq24105 this is an original Press Photo an extraordinary moment '' in the face tragedy... Infuriated Beresford if we do n't like something, we can speak our minds things that way.. Moment '' in the case of `` the Apostle, '' that dreamer is Robert Duvall won Academy...

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