The town portrayed in the film is never identified by name. The film encompasses several different themes, including the importance of love and family, the possibility of spiritual resurrection amid death, and the concept of redemption through Mac Sledge's conversion to Christianity. Little had been done to promote its candidacy: only four Oscar campaign advertisements were purchased; all of them appeared in the trade journal Variety, and Duvall had declined to campaign for himself or the film. “Chip chose to never bring it out,” Duvall says, still sounding a little mystified as to what happened after all this time.  Duvall said he thought Buckley perfectly conveyed the underlying frustration of a country singer and "brought a real zing to [the] part. " The Hobels eventually mailed the script to Australian director Bruce Beresford because they were impressed by his 1980 film Breaker Morant. Mac asks whether she got any of his letters, and she says her mother kept them from her. He meets the owner, a young widow named Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), and offers to work in exchange for a room. 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. Duvall's character, Mac Sledge, is a drunk former country music star who bottoms out right as the film starts.  Although Buckley performed it in the film, country singer Lane Brody was chosen to record it for radio release, and Mac Davis later sang it at the 1984 Academy Awards ceremony. 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. , Tender Mercies was shown in competition at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival, where it was described as a relatively optimistic alternative to darker, more violent entries like One Deadly Summer, Moon in the Gutter and Merry Christmas, Mr. " Maslin said he "so thoroughly transformed into Mac that he even walks with a Texan's rolling gait"; she also complimented the performances of the supporting cast. , 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". "When I did Tender Mercies, it was not this much fun working, believe me. PHOTO FRONT PHOTO BACK. He vanishes totally inside the character of Mac Sledge. The music is everything beautiful country music should be, especially the ballads here. , Some reviews were less favorable.  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.  Upon finding one man with the exact accent he wanted, Duvall had him recite the entire script into the recorder. " It was Oppewall who named the motel Mariposa, Spanish for "butterfly", which symbolizes the spiritual resurrection Mac Sledge would experience there. Tender Mercies (1983) Plot Synopsis.  Beresford chose Australian Russell Boyd as cinematographer and Irishman William Anderson, who had worked on all of the director's previous features, as editor. Photo measures 8 x 10 inches. As Mac he avoids both melodrama and condescension, finding climaxes in each small step toward rehabilitation, each new responsibility shouldered.  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. " The lyrics of "If You'll Hold the Ladder", which Mac performs with his new country band in the second half of the film, suggest what love has done for him. 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. Why? " The film's financial backers were initially concerned about whether he could sing well enough for the role. Beresford and Boyd filmed the scene in a long take and long shot so it could flow uninterrupted, with the lonely Texas landscape captured in the background. The Movie: Tender Mercies is the film that won Robert Duvall his Oscar, and it's the film that brought director Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy) to Hollywood.But otherwise, this quiet drama has pretty much flown under the radar since its release in 1983.  Harper said Boyd was so quiet during filming that he mostly used just three words: "'Yeah', 'right' and 'sure'".  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.  Duvall sang his own songs, a right he insisted be part of his contract. The members of the local country band ask Mac permission to perform one of his songs, and he agrees. After some time passes he and Rosa Lee wed. Robert Duvall has a few inviolable rules when he’s making a movie: If there’s a horse to be ridden, he will ride it; if there is a dance to be danced, he will dance it, and if there is a song to be sung, he will sing it. It Hurts to Face Reality.  Buckley was originally from Fort Worth, Texas, near the Grapevine Opry; when her concert scenes were filmed there, her whole family participated as extras. , Harper described the extent to which Duvall inhabited his character: "Someone once said to me, 'Well, how's Robert Duvall?' I've watched it 10+ times over the years and Robert Duval is awesome. When the film unexpectedly received five Academy Award nominations nearly a year after its original release, the studio attempted to redistribute the film to theaters; however, the cable companies began televising the film about a week before the Oscar ceremony, which essentially halted any attempts at a theatrical re-release.  The script was rejected by many American directors, creating concerns for Foote and the producers that the film would never be made. One day a newspaper reporter visits the motel and asks Mac whether he has stopped recording music and chosen an anonymous life. Although the Australian filmmakers and the crew, who were mostly from Dallas, got along very well both on and off the set, Beresford and Duvall were at odds during the production. He says he tried to leave Rosa Lee, but found he could not. Robert Duvall plays the role of Mac; the supporting cast includes Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley, Ellen Barkin and Allan Hubbard.  Duvall developed a strong, trusting relationship with Hubbard, which Foote felt improved the duo's on-screen chemistry. ", 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.  Another country star, Waylon Jennings, complimented his performance, saying he had "done the impossible. Previous articles are in the June and July, 2019 issues of ToolKit.  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. Directed by Gary Hertz. ... Beresford's nice little movie seems so afraid to make a false move that it runs the danger of not moving at all. It was a pretty tense set." 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. 1983 Press Photo Actor Robert Duvall in "Tender Mercies" Movie - hcq24105 This is an original press photo. He sings his own songs and is pretty good! Foote intimates that 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. Tender Mercies (1983). It is no surprise that Robert Duvall won the Oscar for his role as he was just outstanding in my opinion. ", The story was inspired partially by Foote's nephew, who struggled to succeed in the country music business. It’s not because he captured the essence of a talented, recovering alcoholic trying to make amends for a sorry life. Tess Harper later claimed that Universal spent most of its advertising budget on, "If You'll Hold the Ladder (I'll Climb to the Top)", performed by Robert Duvall in, "Over You", performed by Betty Buckley in, Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Best Drama Written Directly for the Screenplay, "Delicate Prose Marked Work Of Screenwriter Foote", "Tender Mercies :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tender_Mercies&oldid=1000179990, Films featuring a Best Actor Academy Award-winning performance, Films featuring a Best Drama Actor Golden Globe winning performance, Films whose writer won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, "Over You" – Austin Roberts and Bobby Hart, Best Young Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, This page was last edited on 14 January 2021, at 00:07. See, I don't trust happiness. " Duvall, who was presented with the Oscar by country music star, Dolly Parton, said of winning the award, "It was a nice feeling, knowing I was the home-crowd favorite. “He killed a man out of the moment, he didn’t premeditate it, like King David did in the Psalms,” Duvall said. "Tender Mercies," Mac (Robert Duvall) struggles to put his life back in oder after meeting Rosa Lee (Tess Harper).  In its first three days, March 4–6, the film grossed $46,977 from exclusive engagements at the Tower East Theater in New York ($21,183), the Fine Arts Theater in Los Angeles ($18,254) and the Carnegie Theater in Chicago ($7,540).  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. Man, I have to have my freedom. He claims he does not, but after she leaves he sings to himself the hymn "On the Wings of a Dove," which refers to a dove from the Lord saving Noah and descending at Jesus' baptism. " Briley also proposes that Mac's response — "Yes, ma'am, I guess I was" — to a fan who asks if he was really Mac Sledge suggests that he has washed away his old self through baptism. 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. 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. 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." 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". Robert Duvall full list of movies and tv shows in theaters, in production and upcoming films. Beresford said of Harper, "She walked into the room and even before she spoke, I thought, 'That's the girl to play the lead. Sign up for our newsletter. ... Mac finds the way, the truth, and the life he wants. " Although he had no problem with Duvall's acting methodology, the actor's temperament infuriated Beresford. Directed by Bruce Beresford. 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. It was a pretty tense set." Starring Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, and Wilfred Brimley. Sue Anne asks whether Mac remembers a song about a dove he sang to her when she was a baby. Backstage, he talks to Dixie's manager, his old friend Harry (Wilford Brimley). Robert Duvall full list of movies and tv shows in theaters, in production and upcoming films. Soundtrack Credits. After further arguments, the two made amends and returned to work on the film. Mac admits he used to hit Dixie and that she divorced him after he tried to kill her in a drunken rage.  Tender Mercies eventually played at a total of 37 theaters and grossed $8,443,124. , Film historian Gary Edgerton said the Tender Mercies script "catapulted Horton Foote into the most active professional period in his life. Robert Selden Duvall (/ d uː ˈ v ɔː l /; born January 5, 1931) is an American actor and filmmaker whose career spans more than six decades.  After they are baptized, Sonny asks Mac whether he feels any different, to which Mac responds, "Not yet." After I was named Best Actor I expected the offers to flood in. It’s not because Duvall could actually sing a great country song. 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". But my telephone was surprisingly quiet. The pair appeared together in 1997’s The Apostle, and Duvall’s wife, Luciana made a documentary about Shaver, Portrait of Billy Joe, in 2004. Financed by EMI Films, Tender Mercies was shot largely in Waxahachie, Texas.  Hubbard would often play guitar with Duvall during breaks from filming.. Like Bush in Get Low, the characters he played in The Apostle and Tender Mercies sought redemption or forgiveness. , Philip and Mary Ann Hobel spent a long time seeking a distributor for Tender Mercies without any success. His newfound happiness is interrupted when Sue Anne dies in a car accident. Song and dance man Playing a country singer in “Tender Mercies,” Duvall did his own singing and wrote several songs. In 1983 I won an Oscar for my portrayal of a down-and-out country singer who finds salvation in the film Tender Mercies. “He’s immensely talented,” Duvall says. Tender Mercies.  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. , Beresford visited several schools and auditioned many children for the role of Sonny before he came across Allan Hubbard in Paris, Texas. , Foote based Sledge's victory over alcoholism on his observations of theatre people struggling with the problem. The Godfather, The Outfit, The Natural, Open Range etc). Sledge eventually teams up with the musicians, offering them fatherly counsel in a much more direct way. " 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". , 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. The reason was that they rarely recognized Mr. Duvall from one part to another, so effortlessly did he vanish into each celluloid persona. Mac attends his daughter's funeral at Dixie's lavish home in Nashville and comforts her when she breaks down.  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. Tess Harper, Allan Hubbard and Robert Duvall in "Tender Mercies."  Several of those involved with Tender Mercies had reservations about an Australian directing a film about a country music star. " In his book Alternate Oscars, listing his personal opinions of who should have won the Academy Awards each year, Peary excluded Tender Mercies from all the categories, and chose Michael Caine as deserving of the Best Actor honor for Educating Rita. The Hobels approached EMI Films, a British film and television production company, which agreed to provide financing for Tender Mercies as long as Duvall remained involved, and under the condition the Hobels find a good director. She never lost faith, and that's a rare thing. Log in Ask Question. Mac is reunited not only with his spiritual father through his conversion to Christianity, but also with his biological daughter, Sue Anne, when she pays him a surprise visit. Directed by Bruce Beresford. You just wish the whole lot of them would start tickling each other.  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. Ebert said of Foote's screenplay, "The down-to-earth quality of his characters drew attention away from his minimalist storytelling; all the frills were stripped away.  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.