The Straight Story

November 3rd, 1999


more trailers The Straight Story

Still of Richard Farnsworth and Wiley Harker in The Straight StoryStill of Richard Farnsworth in The Straight StoryChristopher McDonald at event of The Straight StoryStill of Sissy Spacek and Richard Farnsworth in The Straight StoryStill of Sissy Spacek and Richard Farnsworth in The Straight StoryStill of Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story

An old man makes a long journey by tractor to mend his relationship with an ill brother.

Release Year: 1999

Rating: 8.0/10 (42,084 voted)

Critic's Score: 86/100

Director: David Lynch

Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz

"The Straight Story" chronicles a trip made by 73-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wis., in 1994 while riding a lawn mower. The man undertook his strange journey to mend his relationship with his ill, estranged, 75-year-old brother Lyle.

Writers: John Roach, Mary Sweeney

Sissy Spacek - Rose
Jane Galloway Heitz - Dorothy
Joseph A. Carpenter - Bud
Donald Wiegert - Sig
Richard Farnsworth - Alvin
Tracey Maloney - Nurse
Dan Flannery - Doctor Gibbons
Jennifer Edwards-Hughes - Brenda
Ed Grennan - Pete
Jack Walsh - Apple
Max the Wonder Dog - Farm Dog
Gil Pearson - Bus Driver
Barbara June Patterson - Woman on Bus
Everett McGill - Tom the John Deere Dealer
Anastasia Webb - Crystal


Official Website: Disney | Disney (alternate) |

Release Date: 3 November 1999

Filming Locations: Clermont, Iowa, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $10,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $92,312 (USA) (17 October 1999) (7 Screens)

Gross: $6,203,044 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In the film, Alvin's brother's name is mentioned as Lyle, however, in Straight's biography in the Des Moines Register, his name is listed as Henry. This is most likely not an error, but rather the result of Alvin's brother not wanting his real name used in the film.

Factual errors: Alvin tells his hosts that he has been on the road for more than five weeks, and he still has some distance to go at that point of the film. However, the total distance from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin is 377 miles according to Google maps. With his lawnmower going at an estimated speed of at least 3 miles per hour and Alvin driving a moderate 10 hours per day, this would get him to his destination in less than two weeks.

[first lines]
Dorothy: Hi Rose.
Rose 'Rosie' Straight: Hi Dorothy.
Alvin Straight: [can be heard collapsing inside his house]

User Review

Surprisingly deep

Rating: 7/10

I went into The Straight Story expecting a sad/happy type drama with nice direction and some good acting. These I got. What I wasn't expecting was an allegory for the trials of human existence. Leave it to Lynch to take a simple story about a 300 mile trip on a lawnmower and turn it into a microcosm for the human condition.

If you didn't notice, watch it again, paying attention to the ages of the people Alvin meets, the terrain he's driving through, the reactions people give him, the kinds of discussions he has (one of the first is about pregnancy and children, one of the last is outside of a cemetery). The last road he drives down is particulary haunting in this context, as it narrows and his fear and nervousness mount. The last mechanical failure could be seen as a death, and the miraculous rebirth of his engine relating to an afterlife, in which he achieves the desired reunion.

I only hope some of the people who branded this as a slow sappy melodrama take the time to watch with a more holistic attention.