- Noble Jones
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 34 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
The main attraction of director/writer Noble Jones’ film is the pairing of Blythe Danner and John Lithgow in what at first seems an off-beat romance between two senior citizens. Each of their characters live alone and harbor a secret, and the movie’s plot packs two surprises. Although this does not measure up to I’ll See You in My Dreams, which also co-starred Blythe Danner, it’s good that we have one more movie that shows that older folk can also fall in love.
Ed Hemsler is the man of the title who believes that tomorrow will bring apocalyptic disaster to a world gone crazy. His is the first voice we hear talking over the phone to his son Brian (Derek Cecil), trying to convince him to prepare for the societal meltdown he believes is sure to come. He spends a lot of time at his computer where he presides as Captain Reality over a dooms day chat site, his acolytes typing in their support after one of his pessimistic observations. He also watches a middle-aged female newscaster and talks to her image. At times she seems to reply to him.
At the local grocery where he always pays by check—apparently he has given up on credit cards but not the banking system—the attractive Ronnie (Danner) catches his eye. She never uses a credit card either, always paying in cash for the miscellaneous groceries and supplies she buys. After seeing her in the store several times, he manages to speak to her and works up the nerve to ask her out for a cup of coffee. He shares that he is divorced and has a son and a grand daughter. She that her daughter died of a rare disease, and then her husband of cancer. This leads to a series of dinner dates. Trusting Ronnie, Ed takes her to his home where he reveals to her the locked room at the back of the house where he has accumulated a vast array of Spam, soup, frozen beef, and other food stuffs and survival necessities. He has a generator on hand—if we had wondered why he had bought at the beginning of the film the large can of gasoline, we now know why.
When his son Brian invites him for Thanksgiving dinner, Ed takes Ronnie, introducing her as his girlfriend. Unfortunately the old feud over world destruction erupts again, as well as remarks that so anger teen-aged granddaughter Jeanine (Sophie Thatcher) that she runs from the dining room and down the street. Although I don’t recall the exact sequence, there are incidents of Ed being hospitalized, his staying the night at Ronnie’s house and discovering the reason she had hitherto avoided inviting him in, and a family reconciliation that ends in a strange, no, a bizarre way.
I wonder if Jones had fun with playing with us, presenting the film as a character study of two older people who discover romance—and did he restrain himself by not having one of the characters in the last scene saying, “I told you so”? For believers, Ed could serve as a study of a man trying to build security for himself, rather than turning with the Psalmist to the true source of security declared in vs. 1 of the psalm. Ed is muck like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable in that both think that by storing up things they will be secure.
Ours is an age of fear with people striving either to escape or drown it in all sorts of ways, the survivalist subculture being one example. Mr. Noble, however, is not trying to dig deep into theology. I suspect he is just interested in having a bit of fun with us. And maybe enjoying, like us, seeing two great pros interacting on the screen. I have loved Blythe Danner so much, ever since 1979 when she starred opposite Robert Duvall as his compassionate wife
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