Sometimes a Great Notion

Sometimes a Great Notion (Paul Newman) - 1970

This was the second of six movies directed by Newman (1925-2008) who also starred as Hank Stamper.  The John Gay screenplay pales in comparison to the Ken Kesey (1935-2001) novel which is among the greatest of English-language novels.  Although it was not possible to accurately film the Kesey novel in a two-hour format, some important plot lines were awkwardly inserted in the screenplay or deleted entirely.  For convenience, some important characters were also minimized or completely eliminated.  The biggest failing of the movie is that the conflict between Hank and his younger brother Lee (Michael Sarrazin 1940-2011) was not sufficiently demonstrated as in the novel.  The logging sequences are the best part of the movie but Newman failed to deliver the psychological battles that are the core of Kesey's 1964 novel.  Newman and Henry Fonda (1905-1982) as patriarch, Henry Stamper are excellent in their roles but neither could overcome a flawed screenplay.  [JAM 2/13/2012]