This Boy's Life

Synopsis: In 1957, a son and mother flee the East and an abusive boyfriend to find a new life, and end up in Seattle, where the mother meets a polite garage mechanic. The boy continually gets into trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd. The mom marries the mechanic, but they soon find out that he's an abusive and unreasoning alcoholic, and they struggle to maintain hope in an impossible situation as the boy grows up with plans to escape the small town by any means possible. Based on a true story by Tobias Wolff.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Michael Caton-Jones
Production: Warner Home Video
  2 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
115 min

It was 1957 and we're driving

from Florida to Utah.

After my mother was beaten

by her boyfriend...

...we hightailed it

for the uranium fields.

We were gonna change our luck...

...which hadn't been so hot since

our family broke up five years ago.

I spy with my IittIe eye

something that begins with C.

-Cactus. Cactus.



-It's upwards.

-Up. Up in the....

-CIouds. CIouds.

Okay, your turn.

I was caught up in my mother's freedom,

her delight in her freedom.

She was going to get rich on uranium

and I was going to help her.

-How does this thing work, anyway?

-WeII, I think it causes Iike a--

It makes a bIack Iight that causes

uranium traces to gIow.

We can waIk aIong the street

and find uranium?

WeII, it was everywhere

in Moab, they say.

We were too Iate in Moab.

That guy said nobody had found

uranium in SaIt Lake City.

That means we'II have

the pIace to ourseIves, huh?


-This couId be a big break for us.

If this works out,

just think about it.

We couId get a reaI house

and we couId get rid of this damn Nash.

We'd have no more money worries.

It'd be just Iike

heaven on a June day.

Heaven on a June day.

Damn it.

If I had one wish right now, onIy one

wish, you know what it wouId be?

I'd Iike to burn this

goddamn Nash to a crisp.

I'm serious. I hate it.

I hate the man who invented it.

I hate the factory who produced it.

AImost makes me want to see Roy.

He was the onIy one who couId

make it stop overheating.

My God, he was boring.

Boring and mean.

You sure got crappy

taste in boyfriends.

Come on, Iet's go get

rich in SaIt Lake.

Wait a minute.

You're puIIing my Ieg, right?

No. We came here to Iook for uranium.

If you're Iooking for uranium,

why didn't you go to Moab?

We went there,

but everybody beat us.

So you came here just

on the chance you'd find uranium?


Do you mind me saying something

that might sound rude?

Lady, you got more courage

than you got common sense.

-So, what'd the man say?

-Don't ask.

My mom had her own way of solving

problems. She left them behind.

That's what she

did with the Nash, just left it.

Things are going to start Iooking up.

I can feeI it.

The good times are coming.

My mom had high hopes,

especially for me.

I'd been giving her no end

of grief since she left Dad.

I decided I was gonna do better.

I'd have straight-arrow friends.

I was gonna get all A 's in school

and keep my nose clean.

I promised it and meant it.

We give new boys

the benefit of the doubt.

This is the second time

you've been in front of me.

I think you'd better give your mother

a caII, teII her to come down here.

She works.

She's working.

-It wasn't me who broke their window.


-BeIieve them instead of me.

-If you care for me, be quiet.

If you'd cared anything about me,

you wouId've stayed married to Dad.

I didn't really mean that.

I knew it wasn't true.

My father went his own way

before they called it quits...

...and took my older brother,

Gregory, with him.

Sometimes I had to blame somebody,

and she was the only one there.

-What time is it?

-7, aImost.

Why didn't you wake me?

I started dinner. The potatoes are

frying and I'm heating up hot dogs.

-I'm sorry.

-I know you are.

I know your father doesn't caII

and your brother doesn't write...

-...but you know it's not my fauIt.

-I know.



HeIIo, Roy.

A Winchester! Thanks.

I found me a room. But it's cIear

the heII and gone across town.

And I think I got a job Iined up doing

tune-ups at a Texaco station.

So how you Iike it at Winstead's?

-How do you know where I work, Roy?

-I've been here aImost a week.

And you've been foIIowing me

around for a week?

How did you find me?

You Iike that rifIe, Toby?

It's the best present ever. I Iove it.

I'II go pretend I'm shooting.

Don't point it at anybody

or I won't teach you to shoot.

-It's not Ioaded.

-You heard me. Anything or anybody.

-It's got no buIIets.

-Don't make me say it again.

Fine. I'II just go point it

at the sky then.


Roy, don't!

Don't, Roy. Toby's stiII awake.

You are one sweet thing, baby.

It's just the sight of you

makes my dick hard.

Don't, Roy.

Don't, now.

He's not going to hear anything!

Look, I'm--

Sorry, baby. I'm sorry.

Come on, you know I didn't mean that.

I'm just so gIad to see you.

Most afternoons,

I'd wander around in a trance.

Sometimes I'd go downtown,

stare at the merchandise.

Maybe I'd shoplift. Maybe not.

I used to imagine I saw my father

coming toward me.

I'd wait for him to recognize me.

I knew it wasn't him. He lived

back East, married to a rich woman.

His nickname was Duke

and that's how I thought of him... a duke living in a castle

far away.

A few minutes later,

I'd pick someone else.

-I'm home.

-Hi, honey.

-We going somepIace?

-We sure are.


-I don't know. Any ideas?


-Good. I was thinking Phoenix.

Or SeattIe. PIenty of opportunities

in both pIaces.

What about your fabuIous boyfriend?

The fabuIous, boring Roy.

-Is he coming too?

-God, I hope not.

I Iooked out the window at work today,

he was across the street watching.

-So uncooI.

-You didn't think so Iast night.

''I just Iove my new rifIe, Roy!

It's the bestest present I ever had.''

Shut up.


Now? We're Ieaving now?

-What about the food?

-Leave it.

-Even the canned stuff?

-Are you coming or staying?

Ask him when the next one

to Phoenix is.

-When's the next bus to Phoenix?

-Tomorrow morning. 1 1 :45.

-How about SeattIe?

-Yeah, what about SeattIe?

Leaves in, what, three--

No, two minutes.

-Is this the bus to SeattIe?

-Yes, it is.

Hurry. Come on.

SeattIe, here we go!

I aIways had a good head for figures.

If I got a CPA Iicense, I bet we couId

make a reaI go of it in SeattIe.

I know what.

I'II advertise for roommates.

-Hey, Ter.

-Hey, Jack.

What did your mom say

about skipping schooI?

Who Iistens?

Did you go to Wanda's Iast night?

You make out?

Make out good?

How good?

F***ed her tiII her nose bIed.

Sure you did.

Hey, Jack. Terry.

Oh, Iook! It's EIvis, EIvis and EIvis.

Does your face hurt?

Because it's kiIIing me.


-Anybody here?

-Help! Help!

Help! I'm in here!

Oh, weII. Lois, baby, come here. I got

six hot inches just waiting for you.

-Yeah, you wish.

-Oh, Lois. I want you so bad!

Come on,

you make my dick hard, baby!

Come on, baby. I'II do better

than Superman. Just give me a chance.

How did you find me?

Oh, Lois. Daddy-o's going to make you

happy-o. Tie them ropes around me.

You couIdn't even get it up, SiIver.

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Robert Getchell

Robert Getchell (December 6, 1936 – October 21, 2017) was an American screenwriter. Getchell wrote the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and created the sitcom based on that film, Alice. Getchell was also the screenwriter for the 1981 Docudrama film "Mommie dearest" which is based on Christina Crawford's Nightmarish childhood with her adoptive mother and Actress Joan Crawford. Getchell's screenplay didn't took the film seriously and won the 2nd "Golden Raspberry Award" for worst screenplay due to the scripts over-the-top and uncanny dialogue. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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