The Straight StoryNovember 3, 1999
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
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
Jane Galloway Heitz
Joseph A. Carpenter
Max the Wonder Dog
Barbara June Patterson
Woman on Bus
Tom the John Deere Dealer
Release Date: 3 November 1999
Filming Locations: Clermont, Iowa, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $92,312
(17 October 1999)
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.
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.
Rose 'Rosie' Straight:
[can be heard collapsing inside his house]
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
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
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.