Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Homer Macauley is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother, Ulysses. And so it is that as spring turns to summer, 1942, Homer Macauley delivers messages of love, hope, pain... and death... to the good people of Ithaca. And Homer Macauley will grapple with one message that will change him forever. Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan's 1943 novel, The Human Comedy, ITHACA is a coming-of-age story about the exuberance of youth, the abruptness of change, the sweetness of life, the sting of death, and the sheer goodness that lives in each and every one of us.
Genre: Drama, War
Director(s): Meg Ryan
Production: Playtone Pictures
  2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

- Come on, let's go!

You okay?

We must

be set to face a long war

against crafty

and powerful bandits.

The attack at Pearl harbor

can be repeated

at any one of many points,

in both oceans

and along both our coastlines

and against

all the rest of the hemisphere.

It will not only be a long war,

it will be a hard war.

We expect to eliminate

the danger from Japan,

but it would serve us ill

if we accomplished that

and found that the rest

of the world was dominated

by Hitler and Mussolini.

We are going to win this war

and we are going to win

the peace that follows.

- Is it a letter from home?

- Yep, from my brother, homer.

- It's the youngest one, right?

- Uh, no, no.

Youngest one's Ulysses.

He's, um...

Well, he's four.

He believes nothing good

ever ends.

And he's under the impression

that he belongs

wherever there's something

interesting to see.

I have this idea

that you'll come to ithaca

and meet him one day.

And my brother homer,

my sister Bess... and ma.

- Hiya, Harry!

- Fourteen words, collect.

You're a little short.

- A little.

I got drafted.

- Drafted, I see.

- My mother'll send me

enough money to get home.

- Uh-huh.

- Do you know how long

it'll take the telegram

to get to her?

What's that?

Why...? What's this?

- Just go ahead. It's nothing.

Don't worry about it. Just...

- Wh-why? What's...

- you pay me back when

your mother sends the money.

- Thanks.

- Send it paid, Willie!

- Tom...

- What?

I know, Willie. It's just...

Every once in a while.

So remind me, why do you want

to be a messenger?

- Because I'll get to visit

a lot of people

and go to a lot of places.

- Oh. And, uh,

how did you sleep last night?

D'you nod off today at school?

- A little.

- What about sports?

What about missing out on them

on account of having this job?

- We have a physical-education

period every day.

- Is that so? Well, I used

to run the 220 low hurdles

when I went to Ithaca high.

I was, uh...

I was the valley champion.

I was val...

So tell me,

you really want this job?

- I'm gonna be the best

messenger this office ever had.

- I was the best messenger this

office ever had, so you're on.

Okay, the faster

you deliver messages,

the more you can deliver.

The faster you pick up

outgoing messages,

the more we can send.

The more we can send,

the better our chances

of beating western union

and staying alive.

We're postal telegraph.

We get there swiftly.

We're polite to everyone.

We take off our hats

in elevators and,

above all things,

we never lose a telegram.

- Yes, sir.

- How old are you?

- Sixteen.

- Yeah, that's

what you said yesterday.

We're not allowed

to hire a boy unless he's 16.

How old are you?

- Fourteen.

- Well, so you'll be 16

in two years.

What are you gonna do

with the $15 a week?

- Give it to my mother.

- Alright, from here on out,

you're part of this outfit.

You watch everything,

you listen closely,

you keep your eyes open

and your ears peeled.

You got me? This here,

this is what we call a quarter.

You're gonna take it

to Chatterton's bakery

and bring me back two day-old

Apple and coconut-cream.

- Yes, sir.

- What do you think of him?

- He's a good boy.

- I think he is.

A couple of years underage,

that's all.

- Well, I'm a couple of years


so I think we'll get along.

- If you need me,

I'll be at Corbett's.

You two can share

those pies between you.

What's your name again?

- Homer Macauley.

- Homer Macauley.

You're just the boy

this office needs.

I reckon you're the

fastest-moving thing

in this valley.

Remember, once a messenger,

always a messenger.

- Alright, boy, alright.

Homer Macauley.

My name is William Grogan.

I'm 67 years old.

Old-time telegrapher,

one of the last.

And I'm hungry.

And from now on,

you and I are friends.


Here you go.

I may, on occasion,

ask you to run me an errand.

In the event of drunkenness,

I shall expect a depth

of understanding.

- I've got a pretty good


- Do you? We'll see.

Every evening...

I'll count on you to see that

I'm able to perform my duties.

A splash of cold water

directly on the face

if I don't respond when shaken

and to be followed immediately

by a cup of hot black coffee

from Corbett's across the road.

You know where Corbett's is?

- Yes, sir.

Cold water, hot coffee.

- Excuse me.


Do you think that this world

is gonna be a better place

after the war?

- Yes, sir.

- How do you like

that coconut-cream pie?

- Very good, sir.

- Homer...

This is your first telegram.

Put it in your cap.

- Postal telegram.

- You have a telegram?

- Yes, ma'am.

- For who is it?

- A Mrs. Rosa Sandoval,

1129 G street.

Are you Mrs. Sandoval?

- S, s, s. Please come in.

I cannot read English.

How does the telegram read?

- Ma'am?

- Please, open the telegram

and read to me the telegram.

- Yes, ma'am.

- Please, come inside.

Who sends me this telegram?

My son, Juan Domingo?

- No, ma'am.

It's, uh...

From the secretary of war.

- The secretary...

- Maybe it's a mistake.

Maybe it wasn't your son.

Maybe it was somebody else.

The telegram says

it was Juan Domingo, but...

Maybe the telegram's wrong.

- Please, sit down.

I will bring you some candy,


All boys love candy very much.

- I can't quit. Otherwise,

I'm as good as dead myself.

Mr. Grogan!

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Erik Jendresen

Erik Jendresen is an author as well as a writer and producer for plays, television, and film.As co-creator, lead writer and a supervising producer of the critically acclaimed mini-series Band of Brothers for HBO in 2001, Jendresen was one of the recipients of that year's Emmy Award for "Outstanding Miniseries", which he shared with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, among others. Jendresen also shared an Emmy nomination for that show in the category of "Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special". The show also resulted in a Golden Globe Award for "Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television", and 20 other awards, including the Peabody Award. As a writer/ producer for film, his current projects include The Mariner (directed by Christopher McQuarrie for FOX); Mission: Blacklist (directed by Rodrigo Cortés); Saint-Ex (directed by Christopher McQuarrie); Aloft (starring Robert Redford); Solo (directed by Antonio Banderas); and an adaptation of Walter Tevis's The Man Who Fell to Earth (directed by David Slade). Earlier film projects include Star Trek: The Beginning (Paramount), Sublime, starring Tom Cavanagh and Kathleen York, Otis and The Big Bang (starring Antonio Banderas and Sam Elliott), and Ithaca - an adaptation of William Saroyan's The Human Comedy (directed by Meg Ryan and starring Sam Shepard and Hamish Linklater). As a writer, producer, and showrunner for television, his current projects include Special, a series based on the documentary filmmakers of the 1960s (with Marti Noxon, for the National Geographic Channel); a series based on the stories of the French Foreign Legion (with Thomas Bidegain and Dimitri Rassam); The War, a five-season series about the unending interconnected conflicts of the 20th century (with Christopher McQuarrie); The 43, a six-hour mini-series about WWII British ex-servicemen fighting fascism on their home soil (BBC/NBC); A Coloured Man's Reminiscences, an eight-hour miniseries chronicling the story of James Madison’s slave, Paul Jennings (with Tyger Williams and Rodrigo Garcia, for ABC); Castner's Cutthroats, a six-hour miniseries about the Battle of the Aleutians (Discovery Channel); Rocket Men, a ten-hour miniseries about Wernher von Braun and the men who took us to the moon and beyond; Climb to Conquer, a ten-hour miniseries about the 10th Mountain Division in World War II (with Wildwood); and Shot All to Hell, a four-hour miniseries about the James-Younger Gang and the Northfield, Minnesota, raid (TNT). Previous projects include Killing Lincoln, co-produced with Tony and Ridley Scott for the National Geographic Channel; a series based on the Francis Ford Coppola film, The Conversation (with Christopher McQuarrie); The Pony Express (with Robert Duvall); an eight-hour adaptation of Gregory Maguire's novel, Wicked (ABC); an eight-hour miniseries Majestic-12; and The Command - a series set in the world of the Joint Special Operations Command (FIC). Jendresen also has to his credit several books, most of which deal with the socio-anthropology of Peru and the Amazon Basin, including Dance of the Four Winds and its sequel, Island of the Sun (both based upon the journals of and co-written with Alberto Villoldo), and the children's book, The First Story Ever Told (also with Villoldo). Hanuman (with Joshua M. Greene, and Li Ming) is a re-telling for children of a portion of the Ramayana. He is also a playwright (The Killing of Michael Malloy, Excuse My Dust, Malice Aforethought). Jendresen lives in Sausalito, California, aboard the M.V. Hindeloopen, 112-year-old riveted wrought iron vessel which saw service during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. He is married to Venus Madora Aslee Bobis, Program Director of the Partial Hospitalization Program at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute of the University of California, San Francisco, and his partner in Pilothouse Pictures. He is an advisor at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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