I Never Sang for My Father

Synopsis: Hackman plays a New York professor who wants a change in his life, and plans to get married to his girlfriend and move to California. His mother understands his need to get away, but warns him that moving so far away could be hard on his father. Just before the wedding, the mother dies. Hackman's sister (who has been disowned by their father for marrying a Jewish man) advises him to live his own life, and not let himself be controlled by their father.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Gilbert Cates
Production: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
92 min


Death ends a life.

But it does not end a relationship,

which struggles on in the survivor's mind

towards some resolution,

which it may never find.

Northeast Airlines announces the

arrival of Flight number 4,

Yellowbird service from

Miami and Fort Lauderdale,

now arriving at Gate number 9.

Good morning.


Can you tell me where I can

get a wheelchair, please?

Yes, at the ramp.

Thank you.

You're welcome.

Hello, Dad.

Well, Gene, as I live and

breathe, this is a surprise!

I wrote you I'd be here.

You did? Well,

my mind's a sieve.

Hello, Mother.

I got a wheelchair here for you.

Save you the walk.

My precious.

What would we do without you?

You look great.

I'm all right, but listen to him.

Couldn't get him to see

a doctor down there.

I told you, I wasn't going to let

those bozos charge me tourist prices.

That damn wind down

there never stops blowing.

He's had me sick with worry.

Now, now, Mother.

I've taken pretty good care

of myself for 80 years.

I know, but... You take

care of your mother.

I'll see you at the baggage section.

The bags won't be there yet, Dad.

I want to be there when they get there.

Don't want anyone making

off with our luggage.

Where's the car parked?

It's in the lot.

That the Buick?

I wrote you from California.

I bought a Mustang.

I thought you liked Buicks.

No, you like Buicks.

Well, things to worry about.

Nobody's going to

walk off with your bags.

I've traveled a good deal

more than you have, old man,

and I know you have to keep

an eye on your luggage

or some damn savage

will walk off with it.

You can't change him, lovey.

There's no use trying.

But he's a remarkable man.

Look how he walks.

Like a brigadier general.

He may not always remember

where he's going,

but he always goes there

with a firm step.

Who took this picture of you?

A friend.

I guess it's supposed to be artistic.

It looks weak.

Now, lovey, don't go on like that.

It's a very nice picture.

Well, I like a picture of a man to

look at me, straight in the eye.

I suppose we should stop and shop.

There'll be nothing in the house to eat.

I'm going to take you out to dinner.

Hooray for our side.

Can you spare the time?

Now, Mother, he said he would.

I want to tell you about California.

Yes, we haven't heard anything. Gene,

you can take the next to the left.

I'll bet Tom didn't bring that

battery back for the car.

Did you write him? Yes.

And the next right, Gene.

You don't mind my giving

you directions, do you?

Across the miles

From heart to heart We're born alone

We live apart

And time slips by Like sifting sand

So reach out, stranger If you can

And take a stranger's hand

If each of us could find a way

To speak beyond The words we say

To touch each other openly

To feel that we are

More than strangers

That's where love may be.

Yeah. He did

bring it back.


Can't count on anyone these days.

Where's your mother?

She's in her garden.


She's walking in her garden.

You know, Gene, I don't

mean to criticize,

but it seems to me you're

mumbling a great deal.

I have great difficulty

understanding you.

I think you need a hearing aid, Dad.

I can hear perfectly well

if people would only enunciate.

"Mr. Garrison, if you

would only enunciate."

Professor Aurelio at night school.

Where did you say your mother was?

In her garden.

You know, Gene, the

strain has been awful.

She looks well.

I know.

But you never know when she'll have

another one of those damn seizures.

It's been rough, I know.

We'll manage.

She's a good soldier.

You know, she...

She eats too fast.

The doctor said she must slow down.


We got all of your letters

from California, Gene.

I have them here someplace.

Sorry I didn't manage

every Sunday, but...

We do look forward to

your letters, old man.

There isn't much else for us these days.

But this...

This girl, this

woman you mentioned several times...

I'll tell you all about

California at dinnertime, okay?

You seemed to see a great deal of her.

Well, I did.

Carol's been dead, let's see now...

It's over a year.

And there's no reason why you

shouldn't go out with another woman.


I was in California, many years ago.

It's a beautiful place.

I can understand your enthusiasm for it.

I liked it a lot.

But Gene, if you were

to go out there to live,

it would kill your mother.

God, you're her whole life.

Dad, now...

Yes, you are.

She's fond of your sister,

but you are her life.

Do you think I haven't

known that all these years?

Dad, now I know we're

very close, but... Gene.


Just remember what I've said.

Well, let's get the rest of the luggage.

Here she is.

Good evening, Mrs. Garrison.

Good evening, Mary.

Mr. Garrison.

We missed you.

We had a girl down in Florida

with no sense of humor.

Couldn't get a rise out of her.

Well, we'll have some jokes, then.

Dry martini?

You twist my arm.

Six to one.

What's your pleasure,

Gene? Dubonnet?

I'll have a martini.

But not six to one.

The same, please.



No, nothing. My joints would

be as stiff as a board.

Did you say you'd be stiff?

My joints.

My joints.

We wouldn't want you stiff.

Did I ever show you this ring?

You've shown it to him 100 times.

I never thought I'd wear a diamond ring.

But when T.J. Parks died,

I wanted something of his.

And the last time I had it appraised,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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