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  • 1991movierewind

Episode #107: Rambling Rose

Listen to Episode 107 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - In Rambling Rose, the Hillyer family takes in a young woman named Rose (played by Laura Dern) to work as the live-in caretaker and maid. Set in the 1930’s, her free spirited nature causes problems within the conservative small Georgia town and with “Daddy” Hillyer (played by Robert Duvall), but intrigues his teenage son Buddy (played by Lucas Haas).

Screenplay by Calder Willingham; Directed by Martha Coolidge; and released on September 20, 1991.


The movie is told from the perspective of the oldest son Willcox/Brother/Buddy but really its not his story in the way we're made to believe.

There's a lot of unexplained ambiguity about how "Daddy" came to find Rose and rescue her and why.

We also had some difficulty understanding if his motivations were genuine or if he was manipulating people.

Most of the characters are a bit unusual as the kids seem really happy about the idea of Rose seducing Daddy while they spy?

And the mom doesn't seem to like the dad all that much and has a hearing problem, so who knows how aware she is of everything.

Anyway, there's a part in the movie that's supposed to be some coming of age sequence that's really important, but it's simply gross. We don't think the movie was trying to be gross, but it is not endearing or magical or whatever the intent was.

From our perspective the movie is actually mostly rambling around from scene to scene and doesn't actually present its thesis until the last 15 minutes or so.

I am only a human girl person

The acting is generally quite strong, but neither of us connected with the material at all. It's not a coming of age story. It's not a love story. It's just a story. From the critical reception, we're in the minority with our opinion.

Awards Talk: The movie earned Oscar & Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. At the Spirit Awards, it won Best Feature, Best Director, Best Supporting Female Performance and was nominated for Male Lead, and Cinematography. It earned two Young Artist Award nominations for Lisa Jakub and Lukas Haas. Finally, this was included in the AFI's Top 400 list that was used to determine their top 100 of all time.


This week our true crime segment is looking at John Heard who plays adult Buddy.

In addition, here are a couple additional articles surrounding his death -

On the happier pop culture side, NBC aired a special this night and it's available on YouTube (currently, at least)

A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan has a few musical performances and original sketches from SNL & SCTV cast members as well as a couple stand-up sets. The goal was to celebrate MJ and his first championship as well as raise money for two different charities through the audience. A fascinating look at something that doesn't really happen anymore on TV.


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 1 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 1 1/2 out of 4

Would you watch it again? - Even though it made the AFI top 400 short list, and generally has good critical acclaim, neither of us would want to watch it again as we didn't enjoy it the first time. Good acting across the board, but nothing else about the story, characters or situations appealed to us in the slightest and we felt it took far too long to actually get to what seemed to be the point of the movie.

If you want to watch Rambling Rose, as of this recording in April 2023, it’s available on Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.


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Join us next time for The Rocketeer available on Disney+, Digital Rental, VHS, DVD


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