I Never Sang for My Father (1970) Movie Script

Death ends a life.
But it does not end a relationship,
which struggles on in the survivor's mind
towards some resolution,
which it may never find.
Northeast Airlines announces the
arrival of Flight number 4,
Yellowbird service from
Miami and Fort Lauderdale,
now arriving at Gate number 9.
Good morning.
Can you tell me where I can
get a wheelchair, please?
Yes, at the ramp.
Thank you.
You're welcome.
Hello, Dad.
Well, Gene, as I live and
breathe, this is a surprise!
I wrote you I'd be here.
You did? Well,
my mind's a sieve.
Hello, Mother.
I got a wheelchair here for you.
Save you the walk.
My precious.
What would we do without you?
You look great.
I'm all right, but listen to him.
Couldn't get him to see
a doctor down there.
I told you, I wasn't going to let
those bozos charge me tourist prices.
That damn wind down
there never stops blowing.
He's had me sick with worry.
Now, now, Mother.
I've taken pretty good care
of myself for 80 years.
I know, but... You take
care of your mother.
I'll see you at the baggage section.
The bags won't be there yet, Dad.
I want to be there when they get there.
Don't want anyone making
off with our luggage.
Where's the car parked?
It's in the lot.
That the Buick?
I wrote you from California.
I bought a Mustang.
I thought you liked Buicks.
No, you like Buicks.
Well, things to worry about.
Nobody's going to
walk off with your bags.
I've traveled a good deal
more than you have, old man,
and I know you have to keep
an eye on your luggage
or some damn savage
will walk off with it.
You can't change him, lovey.
There's no use trying.
But he's a remarkable man.
Look how he walks.
Like a brigadier general.
He may not always remember
where he's going,
but he always goes there
with a firm step.
Who took this picture of you?
A friend.
I guess it's supposed to be artistic.
It looks weak.
Now, lovey, don't go on like that.
It's a very nice picture.
Well, I like a picture of a man to
look at me, straight in the eye.
I suppose we should stop and shop.
There'll be nothing in the house to eat.
I'm going to take you out to dinner.
Hooray for our side.
Can you spare the time?
Now, Mother, he said he would.
I want to tell you about California.
Yes, we haven't heard anything. Gene,
you can take the next to the left.
I'll bet Tom didn't bring that
battery back for the car.
Did you write him? Yes.
And the next right, Gene.
You don't mind my giving
you directions, do you?
Across the miles
From heart to heart We're born alone
We live apart
And time slips by Like sifting sand
So reach out, stranger If you can
And take a stranger's hand
If each of us could find a way
To speak beyond The words we say
To touch each other openly
To feel that we are
More than strangers
That's where love may be.
Yeah. He did
bring it back.
Can't count on anyone these days.
Where's your mother?
She's in her garden.
She's walking in her garden.
You know, Gene, I don't
mean to criticize,
but it seems to me you're
mumbling a great deal.
I have great difficulty
understanding you.
I think you need a hearing aid, Dad.
I can hear perfectly well
if people would only enunciate.
"Mr. Garrison, if you
would only enunciate."
Professor Aurelio at night school.
Where did you say your mother was?
In her garden.
You know, Gene, the
strain has been awful.
She looks well.
I know.
But you never know when she'll have
another one of those damn seizures.
It's been rough, I know.
We'll manage.
She's a good soldier.
You know, she...
She eats too fast.
The doctor said she must slow down.
We got all of your letters
from California, Gene.
I have them here someplace.
Sorry I didn't manage
every Sunday, but...
We do look forward to
your letters, old man.
There isn't much else for us these days.
But this...
This girl, this
woman you mentioned several times...
I'll tell you all about
California at dinnertime, okay?
You seemed to see a great deal of her.
Well, I did.
Carol's been dead, let's see now...
It's over a year.
And there's no reason why you
shouldn't go out with another woman.
I was in California, many years ago.
It's a beautiful place.
I can understand your enthusiasm for it.
I liked it a lot.
But Gene, if you were
to go out there to live,
it would kill your mother.
God, you're her whole life.
Dad, now...
Yes, you are.
She's fond of your sister,
but you are her life.
Do you think I haven't
known that all these years?
Dad, now I know we're
very close, but... Gene.
Just remember what I've said.
Well, let's get the rest of the luggage.
Here she is.
Good evening, Mrs. Garrison.
Good evening, Mary.
Mr. Garrison.
We missed you.
We had a girl down in Florida
with no sense of humor.
Couldn't get a rise out of her.
Well, we'll have some jokes, then.
Dry martini?
You twist my arm.
Six to one.
What's your pleasure,
Gene? Dubonnet?
I'll have a martini.
But not six to one.
The same, please.
No, nothing. My joints would
be as stiff as a board.
Did you say you'd be stiff?
My joints.
My joints.
We wouldn't want you stiff.
Did I ever show you this ring?
You've shown it to him 100 times.
I never thought I'd wear a diamond ring.
But when T.J. Parks died,
I wanted something of his.
And the last time I had it appraised,
they told me it was worth 4,000.
Whenever I go to see a doctor,
I always turn it around.
I don't want him to think
I'm rolling in money.
It's his favorite occupation,
getting that ring appraised.
That and telling everyone the
gruesome details of his life.
Now wait a minute.
I can't have anyone in.
Your father won't play
bridge or do anything.
Just wants to watch westerns on TV
and tell everyone the story of his life.
Well, people seem to be interested.
That story of your mother's funeral.
I don't remember that one.
Don't get him started.
He keeps telling everyone how he
wouldn't allow his father to come
to his mother's funeral.
Are you suggesting I should have let him?
I'm not saying... He'd run
out on us when we were kids.
Can you imagine going
around telling everyone
how he shoved his father
off the funeral coach?
And I'd do it again.
I was 10 years old.
He hadn't been around
to see us for over a year.
The four of us, living together
in a two-room tenement,
and suddenly he showed up at the funeral,
weeping, begging, drunk as usual.
I shoved him off.
I didn't see him again until years later,
when he was dying in Bellevue, of drink.
- What looks good to you?
- I haven't finished yet.
I went down to see him,
ask if he wanted anything.
He said he wanted an orange.
So I sent him in a half dozen oranges.
I would have sent more,
except I knew he was dying
and there was no point in just
sending oranges to the nurses.
The next morning he died.
Look at your menu, Father.
What looks good to you?
I don't feel like anything.
I have no appetite.
This is the way it's been.
Here we are.
Six to one.
Damn it!
But you always ask for a lemon peel.
But twisted over it, not dumped into it.
It's all right.
It's all right. Well...
To your smiling Irish eyes.
He hasn't changed a bit, has he?
I like to get a rise out of them.
If they kid with me,
I give them a good tip.
If not, straight 10 percent.
Now, what's the matter?
If you want to make a fool
of yourself, go right ahead.
It's lovely, dear.
Thank you.
I don't know how he can stand
listening to those
westerns hour after hour.
I think he always wanted to be a cowboy.
He won't listen to
the things I want to hear.
Down in Florida there was
only one TV in the lounge,
and he rode herd on it.
And then he'd go
to sleep in three minutes.
Still, he's a remarkable man.
Good old Mom.
What a shame that children
can't see their parents
when they're young
and courting and in love.
Come and watch this one.
It's a real shoot-'em-up.
I'll be down in a minute, Dad.
Now, tell me about California.
Well, I liked it a lot.
It was good for you to get away
for a while, from your apartment,
and memories of Carol. Mother.
I told you about the woman that
I met in California, Peggy.
The doctor with the children.
I'm thinking of marrying her.
Well, she sounds like a lovely woman.
And people would expect a man
your age to marry again.
And she has her practice out there.
And her children, they have their
friends and their schools.
Well, there are still trains and planes
and Alice comes on from Chicago once
or twice a year with the children.
Your father and I can
take care of each other.
He makes the beds, which is the
only work I'm not allowed to do,
and I'll remember
where he put his checkbook.
I'm sorry it's worked out like this.
We're fortunate to have had
you so near us for so long.
Have you told your father?
But I think he's guessed from my letters.
He says if I went out there to live,
it would kill you.
Why can't he say it would kill him?
Because he thinks it wouldn't hold you
or mean anything to you.
I'll talk to him.
He'll make a dreadful scene, but...
No, no, no. You've always
done that for Alice and me.
I'll do it.
What? What?
Where's your mother?
She's upstairs.
She's gone to bed.
This is a good one.
This fella can really handle a gun.
Dad, I want to talk to you.
Just a minute.
Well, I'm going.
So soon?
We see so little of you.
I'm up at least once a week.
I'm not complaining.
But there never seems to be any time,
and when you are here your
mother does all the talking.
Well, "All's lost, all's spent"
"when we our desires get without content."
"'Tis better to be that which we destroy"
"than by destruction
dwell in doubtful joy."
Well, we'll get a chance to talk, Dad.
Maybe you can come down into town in
a couple of days and, have lunch.
I'd like to talk to you.
That's a wonderful idea.
You set the date.
I'll call.
Can't tell you what a comfort it is
knowing you're just down in the city.
Don't know what we'd
do without you, Gene.
No hat or coat?
Still chilly.
You should be careful.
You're coming up for your
mother's birthday, aren't you?
It'll be my party.
And, Gene...
Remember what I said about California.
Good night, Dad.
Be careful. I noticed you were
inclined to push it a little up there.
You make a full stop at the end of
the driveway and then turn left.
There's a lot of traffic out.
Take the first left
and then the second right!
Good night, old man.
Hello, Norma?
It's Gene.
A couple of days ago.
Listen, would you like
to come out for a drink?
Okay. Good.
I'll see you in about
10 minutes, all right?
Just once.
Just once I'd like you
to come see me, and after...
Afterwards, smile.
You start feeling guilty,
and then that upsets me,
and pretty soon the whole
thing gives me the willies.
I'm sorry.
What are you feeling so guilty about now?
That you're going to get married
and you're here with me?
I don't know, I just
always feel like I'm using you.
I don't think of it as using.
Back when Carol was dying, when you
first came running up those steps,
I was pretty damned touched
by the whole thing.
You make it sound great.
Somewhere you must hate me.
Coming to you like this...
"Hello, are you going to be in?
I want to come over."
Still, when I
get all... I...
So? So, other men
go out on a binge.
You come to me.
Frankly, I like your way better.
It's friendlier.
I... I get so fed up with
being treated like a child,
I mean, like an ungrateful child,
by that senile
old man. I...
I sit there and watch television
with him for hours while he sleeps.
Then, when I'm going, he says,
"We don't ever get to see you."
Why can't your sister do
some of this babysitting?
She's in Chicago and banished away.
I told you.
For marrying a Jew.
I hate him.
I hate hating him.
I hate what it does to me because
when I'm around him,
I... I...
Somehow I shrink.
Well, you'll be going away soon.
And for some damn reason I feel
guilty about leaving them.
Arguing with each other.
He was a big man in that city.
He was the mayor.
He was the president
of the Board of Education.
And a lot else.
Now they don't know he exists.
All his contemporaries are dead.
Who reads the bronze plaques
on school buildings?
A forgotten man in an ungrateful city.
Now I'm going to walk out on him, too.
For some reason or another that
depresses the hell out of me.
It's a lousy world, my friend.
Only you want to set it all right.
Make it like in the story books.
Love eternal, beyond death.
Grandma and Grandpa with the
kiddies gathered around them.
And sex always an
expression of abiding love.
Grow up?
Don't change.
What is it, Dad?
Holy Jesus.
I'll be right up there.
Excuse me. Mrs. Garrison's room, please.
Room 507.
Thank you.
I'm her son.
Is Dr. Mayberry around?
No, but he saw her an hour ago.
He seems to think everything is going
just as well as can be expected.
Thank you.
Dad? Dad.
Am I glad to see you!
You seen your mother? Yes, I have.
That doesn't sound any better, Dad.
Well, I... I've had a shot.
After your mother got settled here,
I went down to the doctor's
office and had a shot.
I just don't understand it.
I was getting breakfast...
You know, I've been
getting the breakfasts.
When suddenly I heard your
mother scream, "Tom! Tom!"
I went running up the
stairs, and there she was,
stretched out on the floor.
"Nitro, nitro," she whispered.
You know, we've got
it all over the house.
I gave her the nitro,
and I called the doctor
and the ambulance,
and here we are.
She had such a good time in Florida.
She... She worried
about my cough,
but she had a good time.
Dad, these things happen.
I suppose I could have seen
more of her down there.
But she only wanted to play bridge.
I met some very interesting people.
You know, I met this man came
from Waterbury, Connecticut.
He used to know Helen Moffett.
I've told you about Helen
Moffett, haven't I?
When I was a kid,
when the clouds hung low and dark for me,
my grandfather used to take me
out there sometimes on Sundays.
A city slum kid in
that beautiful country.
And Helen and I... Never
amounted to much.
We'd go to church, and
then we'd take a walk.
Sit in a hammock or under an apple tree.
I think she liked that.
But I didn't have any money, so I
didn't get out there very often.
Her mother never liked me.
"That young man will end up
the same way his father did."
And that scared her off.
This man from Florida,
I have his name here.
He said that Helen had never married.
That she'd been in love as a kid
and had never married.
You know, I would like
to make a suggestion.
What's that, Dad?
If we move right along,
we might just be able to
make Rotary for dinner.
I've been away for about three months.
They don't like that too much.
If you're absent too often,
they drop you, or fine you.
What about it?
Well, I... I thought we'd just
grab a bite here at the hospital.
I had lunch at the coffee shop
downstairs and it's terrible.
We'll just say hello to the
fellas and come right back.
Your mother's sleeping now.
She... She'd want us to go.
Sure, Dad.
I don't know what I'd do
without you, old man.
You've been here before,
haven't you, Gene?
Hello, Tom.
Hello, Sam.
Good to see you back.
Did you have a good trip?
Fine. Except for those
damned winds down there.
Excuse my French, Sam.
You know my son, Gene.
The Reverend Pell.
Yes, of course. Hello, Gene. Hello.
Gene was a Marine. You were
a Marine, weren't you, Sam?
No, Navy.
Well, the same thing.
Don't say that to a Marine.
Gene saw the flag go up at Iwo.
Dad, let's order a drink, shall we?
Sam, I've been wanting to talk to you.
This isn't the appropriate time,
but some bozo has been crowding
into our pew at church.
I don't want to seem unreasonable,
but there's a whole church
for him to sit in.
Well, we'll see what we can do, Tom.
Martini, George.
Six to one.
Dubonnet, Gene?
I hope you don't drink too many
of those, Tom. Six to one!
My grandmother used to give me
every morning before I went to school,
when I was knee-high
to a grasshopper,
a jigger of gin with
a piece of garlic in it.
That was to keep away colds.
I wonder what the teachers thought.
I must have stunk to high heaven.
Look, Tom, I don't want you to
think I'm running away on you,
but I was on my way
to the little boys' room,
I'll catch up with you at dinner.
Well, go ahead. We don't
want an accident.
You've got a great dad there, Gene.
Thank you.
Dr. Peggy Thayer, please.
If she wants to know who's calling,
it's Gene Garrison from New York.
Hello, Peggy.
How are you?
Yeah. I'm sorry
I didn't call earlier.
I'm okay.
You know, I picked up my mom and dad
at the plane and took them home.
Yesterday, my mother...
My mother had a heart attack
and I went up there last night and...
No, I'm in the city now.
The hospital just called.
My mother died a few minutes ago.
I'm sorry, Gene. There was
nothing that could be done.
She's been living on borrowed
time for quite a while.
Your father's all right.
You know, Gene, he's been
prepared for this for years.
It may in many ways be a relief.
He's taken wonderful care of her.
I know I'm touching
on a very difficult matter,
but, as an old friend,
he shouldn't be living
in that house alone.
Do I have to look at all these?
It's the only way, Tom.
The best way is to let you just
wander around and look at them.
The prices are all marked
inside the caskets.
For the casket?
Well, that includes everything, Tom.
All our services and one
car for the mourners.
Other cars are extra.
We'll have your car,
we don't need any other.
If anybody else wants to come,
let them use their own cars.
Dear, Gene...
What are these made of?
They vary, Tom.
Steel, bronze, wood.
What accounts for
that variation in price?
Material, workmanship, the finish inside.
You see, this is all silk.
I suppose the metal ones
stand up the best.
Of course, the casket does not go
directly into the ground, Tom.
We first sink a concrete outer vault.
That prevents seepage, et cetera.
That's included in the price?
I suppose the metal ones are
all welded at the seams.
Our plot up there is on a slope.
I suppose that's not so good.
I never thought of that when I bought it.
I don't think it makes
much difference, Tom.
For a child?
My mother would have fit into that.
She was just a little bit of a thing.
She died when I was 10.
I don't remember much about the
funeral, except for my father.
He'd run out on us, but he
came back when she died.
And I wouldn't let him
come to the cemetery.
Well, that's water over the dam.
But this made me think of her.
What do you think of this, Gene?
I like the color of the silk.
Did you say this was
silk or satin, Marvin?
I don't think it makes any difference, Dad.
Whatever you say.
I mean, they all go
into that concrete thing.
This one's 800. I don't
see the difference.
I don't like the metal,
the wood seems warmer.
Don't you agree, Gene?
Yes, I do.
Is there a tax?
That includes the tax, Tom.
All right. Let's settle on
this and get out of here.
Fine. I'd estimate that Mrs.
Garrison should be...
That is if, people want to come
and pay their respects
about noon tomorrow.
That's fine. Thank you.
Would you like to see where Mrs.
Garrison will be resting?
That won't be necessary.
Will your sister be coming on?
Yes, this afternoon.
Shall we go, Dad?
She was just a little bit of a thing.
Hi, honey.
I'm so glad you're here.
You didn't have to
meet me in all this rain.
I wanted to get out of the house quickly.
I can imagine.
How is he?
He's fine.
God, how fine he is.
What do you mean?
No change.
No change that I can see.
Reverend Pell came over this
afternoon, he told him his life story.
How much money he made in
1929, et cetera, et cetera.
Damn it. You know,
our mother just died
and I wanted to talk about her.
But she was never mentioned.
Except as my inspiration, which is like
his cue to start the story of his life.
I'm sorry you've had to
take it all alone.
It's just that I get so fed up
with people coming up to me
and saying, "Your dad
is a remarkable man."
Nobody ever talks about Mother.
Christ, you'd think he died.
I just want to say to them,
"Look, you don't know my father."
"You just know the man
in the newspapers."
The night he banished
my sister for marrying a Jew,
that didn't get in the papers.
What a night that was.
Mother running out
of the room and sobbing.
You shouting at him and storming out.
The two of us sitting
there, father and son.
Eating in silence.
Afterward, I threw up.
I shouted and you threw up.
That was pretty much the pattern.
I felt guilty about Mother
all the way coming here.
Should have seen her more often,
brought the kids more often.
Instead I sent flowers.
Well, that's inevitable.
I felt the same way.
You made her life.
A son shouldn't have to
make his mother's life.
You know, Dad always said he didn't know
the meaning
of the word "quit."
Well, he quit on her.
And I...
I... I was just there. I...
Every time I see him like this, asleep.
The old tiger.
The old man, my father.
Then he wakes up and becomes Tom Garrison
and I'm in a lot of trouble.
Margaret... Dad.
I must have dozed off.
Where's your mother?
Dad, Alice is here.
Alice? What for?
Hello, Dad.
For as much as
it hath pleased almighty God
to take from the world the
soul of our departed sister,
we commit her body to the ground.
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I don't know how you feel,
but I'd like to figure out some
kind of memorial for Mother.
Use some of the money she left.
Yes, definitely.
Maybe some shelves of books
for the children's library.
Christmas books were the
stories she liked to tell.
That's a good idea.
Well, Gene, what are we going to do?
I don't know.
I think you should go ahead and get
married and move to California, but...
I might as well get it off my chest.
It would be murder
if he came to live with us.
First place, he wouldn't do it,
feeling as he does about Sidney.
The kids can't stand how he tells
them how to do everything.
You know, I can't tell you how
it makes me feel as a man
to see someone like that who was
distinguished and remarkable just...
Just become a nuisance.
I know I sound hard, but as
long as we can be assured
that he's taken care of...
I'll feel some guilt,
and you, maybe more,
but my responsibility is to
my husband and children.
That's your responsibility.
And your responsibility is to yourself.
Get married again
to get away from memories of
Carol and her whole world.
Maybe it's Mother's death, the funeral...
All I can think about is Carol.
Gene... My friend, my brother.
Get out of here.
You know, we only remember
the terrible things about Dad.
I've been trying to remember
some of the others.
What he did for us. I'm
doing a lot for my kids.
I don't expect them to pay
me back at the other end.
I'm sure we can find
a full-time housekeeper,
and he can afford it.
No, he wouldn't agree to that.
It's either that or finding a home.
We might as well face it,
his mind is going.
Sooner or later we'll have to start
thinking about powers of attorney.
Perhaps even committing
him to an institution.
God, it's all so ugly.
He kicked me out.
He said he never wanted to see me again.
He broke Mother's heart
over that for years.
He was mean, unloving.
He used to beat the hell out of you
when you were a kid if you disobeyed him.
You've hated and feared
him all your adult life.
Still, he's my father and a man.
And what's happening to him
as a man appalls me.
You don't know how ashamed I feel.
I mean, not being able to
say to him with open arms,
"Papa, come live with me."
"Papa, I love you,
I want to take care of you."
I'm going to talk to him
tonight about a housekeeper.
I'll do the dirty work,
but when he turns to you,
don't you give in.
I've always wanted to love him.
Always needed to love him.
How are you coming?
I've written out receipts for you to sign
for the jewelry your mother left you
and the things she left for Charlotte.
All right.
It may not be necessary,
but, as the executor, I...
I'll be held responsible
for these things.
Dad, I want to talk a little with
you about... Yes, all right.
But first, I want Gene to hear this
letter I've written to Harry Hall.
He and I used to play golf
together out in Jersey.
He wrote me a very nice
letter about your mother,
and I've written him as follows.
It'll only take a minute, if
I can read my own shorthand.
"Dear Harry, how thoughtful of you"
"to write me on the occasion
of Margaret's death."
"It was quite a blow."
"As you know, she was my inspiration"
"and had been since that day 55 years ago"
"when I first met her,"
"when the clouds hung
low and dark for me."
"At the time,"
"I was supporting my
younger brother and sister"
"and my aged grandfather"
"in a two-room flat,"
"going to work every day
in a lumber mill."
"Providence, which has
always been my guide,"
"prompted me to take a night
course in shorthand and typing,"
"and also prompted me to go to the
Underwood Typewriting Company"
"seeking a position as stenographer."
"They sent me, God be praised,"
"to the office of T.J.
Parks of Colonial Brass"
"and a job that started at $5 a week."
"Ended in 1954, when I retired,"
"at 50,000 a year."
That's as far as I've
gotten at the moment.
Dad, I don't think financial matters
are particularly appropriate in
answering a letter of condolence.
But it's true.
You see, it follows.
I'm saying that she was my inspiration.
And it seems entirely
appropriate to explain it.
It's your letter, Dad.
Dad, I'm leaving tomorrow.
I'm going home tomorrow.
Well, Alice, I'm grateful
to you for coming.
Your mother would have appreciated it.
She was very fond of you.
I think we ought to talk
over what your plans are.
My plans?
I have many letters to answer
and a whole mess
in my files and accounts.
If the income tax people ever
ask me to produce my books...
I didn't mean exactly that kind of plan.
I meant...
Do you plan to keep the house?
Why, of course, all my things are here.
It's, It's...
I'll be back on my feet.
Will clear up.
Now this strain is over.
I'm confident I'll be
in shape any day now.
I worry leaving you
in the house alone, Dad.
I'm perfectly all right.
Don't you worry about me,
either one of you.
Why... Why, for the last year, ever
since your mother's first attack,
I've been getting the breakfasts,
making the beds, using a dust rag.
And the laundress comes in once a week
to clean up for me, and Gene here...
He'll keep an eye on me.
Drop in once or twice a week.
That's the point.
We think you should get
a full-time housekeeper.
To live here.
Alone here with me?
Well, that's not very proper, is it?
No. Now, that's final.
Dad, Gene and I would
feel a lot better if...
Look, Alice, you don't
have to worry about me.
I'm perfectly all right.
You go.
Leave with a clear mind.
I'm all right.
Of course, I will appreciate.
Gene's dropping in now and
then, but I'm all right.
We would still like to
get a full-time housekeeper.
What do you mean, you would like to get?
I've hired and fired thousands
of people in my day.
I don't need anyone
getting someone for me.
Well, will you do it yourself, then?
No! I told you no!
Since I was eight years old
I've taken care of myself.
What would you two know about it?
You were given everything on a platter.
At an age when you were swinging
on that tree out there,
breaking all the branches,
I was selling newspapers five hours a day
and, at night, dancing a jig
in saloons for pennies.
Don't you tell me
I can't take care of myself.
If I want a housekeeper, and I don't,
I'll hire one myself.
I've hired and fired thousands
of people in my day.
When I was vice president of Colonial
Brass at 50,000 a year, 2,000 people.
And you tell me
I'm incompetent to hire a...
To hire a housekeeper.
How many people have you hired?
You teach.
All right, if that's what you want to do,
that's your business.
But don't talk to me
about hiring and firing.
Dad, you might fall down.
Why fall down?
There's nothing wrong with my balance.
Sometimes when you get up you're dizzy.
I... I appreciate your concern,
but I'm perfectly able
to carry on by myself.
As I said, with Gene's
help, from time to time.
I imagine we could have
dinner once in a while.
Couldn't we, Gene?
Once or twice a week?
Take you out to Rotary.
Some of the speakers are quite amusing.
Sure, Dad.
Give us time to get together at last.
Chance to know each other.
Gene wants to get married.
Gene wants to move to
California and get married.
Alice, will you shut up?
I can't help it.
You've never faced up to him.
You'd let him ruin your life.
I can handle my own life.
- You can't.
- Children.
I don't want to interfere
with either of your lives.
I took care of myself at eight,
I can take care of myself at 80.
I've never wanted to be
a burden to my children.
I'm going to hang around, Dad.
There's no need to.
I'll move in here just until
you start feeling better.
I don't want to ruin your life.
I didn't say that.
I've long had the impression
that my only function in this family
was to supply the money for... Dad.
To supply the funds for your education!
Dad, will you stop it?
As far as I'm concerned,
this conversation is ended.
Alice, we've gotten along
very well for some years now
without your attention.
You sent me away.
Don't forget that.
You chose to lead your own life.
Well, we won't keep you now.
Dad, come on, stop it!
I've been competent to go
into the city year after year
to earn money for your clothes,
your food, the roof over your head.
Am I now incompetent?
Is that what you're trying to tell me?
For God's sakes, Alice.
I'm only trying to get a
practical matter accomplished.
You didn't have to destroy
him in the process.
I wasn't discussing his competence,
though that will be
a matter for discussion soon.
Look, you can go with a clear conscience.
I'm doing this because I want to.
You're doing it because
you can't help yourself.
Look, when I want to be
analyzed, I'll pay for it.
Did you see yourself in there
when he started
to rage? You shrank.
I shrank at the ugliness
of what was happening.
You're staying because
you can't stand his wrath
the day you say,
"Dad, I'm leaving."
You've never been able
to stand up to his anger.
Look, Alice...
He'll call you ungrateful
and you'll believe him.
What do you want us to do?
Get out a white paper and let it
be known that we, Alice and Gene,
have done all we can to, help
this old man in his old age
and make him happy? Without
inconveniencing ourselves, of course.
And he's refused our help,
so if he falls down and hits his head
and he lies there to rot,
it's not our fault.
I don't think anyone expects
either of us to ruin our lives
for an unreasonable old man.
It's not going to ruin my life. It is.
It's a week or a month.
Let's stop this.
I know what I'm going to do.
I just can't do anything else.
Maybe there isn't the same thing
between a mother and a daughter,
but the old man in me wants
to extend some kind of mercy
to that old man.
I never had a father.
I ran away from him, he ran away from me.
And maybe he's...
Maybe he's right.
Maybe it's time we found each other.
Excuse me for saying so,
but I find that
a lot of sentimental crap.
What do you hope to find?
You hope to find love?
Can't you tell from what he just said
what you're going to find?
Alice, don't give me the textbooks.
He wants your balls.
And he's had them.
I want to shock you.
When has he ever regarded you
as a man, an equal, a male?
When you were a Marine,
and that you did for him.
You didn't want to be a Marine.
"Now, Papa,
will you love me?"
When was he ever proud
of the things you do?
The things you value?
When did he ever mention your teaching,
or your books, except in scorn?
I just do not want to let
my father die a stranger.
You're looking for something
that isn't there, Gene.
You're looking for a
mother's love in a father.
Mothers are soft and yielding.
Fathers are hard and rough,
to teach us the way of the world,
which is rough, which is mean,
which is selfish and prejudiced.
All right, that's your definition.
Because of what he did to you,
you're entitled to it.
I've always been grateful for what
he did to me, kicking me out.
He taught me a marvelous lesson
and he's made me able to face a lot.
And there's been a lot to face.
And so I'm grateful as hell to him.
Because if I couldn't get the
understanding and compassion
from a father,
who could I expect it from?
So I learned, and I didn't expect
it, and I found very little.
And so I'm grateful to him.
I'm grateful as hell to him.
Let's not argue anymore?
I'm going to stay, Alice.
For a while at least,
for whatever reasons.
And Peggy?
Well, we'll see.
She'll be here in a week for a meeting.
Don't lose her, Gene.
Maybe I'm still fouled up on myself,
but I think I've spoken
near the truth about you.
Suddenly I miss Mother so.
Let me emphasize that this kind of place
would only be equipped to handle your dad
while he's still able to
function reasonably well.
Of course, at Christmas we fix
it up with holly and candles,
make it very attractive.
This is a superior place.
Rates run around $50 a day.
Well, the State Hospital's just
a few minutes' drive from here.
My God.
It may sound brutal to say it,
but that's the other side
of our miracle drugs.
We keep them alive,
but a grim alternative.
Attention, please.
Flight number 10 from Los Angeles
has arrived at Gate number 3.
Come over here.
It's great to see you.
The real world.
Promise me one thing.
We'll die young.
It's a little late for me.
I mean, before we...
Before we become public nuisances.
Love. It's been rough?
That old man.
I know.
I see it all the time.
Have you managed to find
a housekeeper for him?
I looked at the homes the other day,
the institutions, it's...
We'd all come east, you know.
The kids.
If you want it that way.
I don't want it that way.
I don't know what I want...
I just know I want you.
Well, this is a pleasant surprise.
Now I told you yesterday when
I left I'd be out tonight.
You did?
Well, my mind is a complete sieve.
Dad, this is Peggy Thayer,
Dr. Peggy Thayer.
Doctor, I have a slight pain right here.
How do you do, my dear?
How do you do,
Mr. Garrison?
Dad, I don't think Peggy could help
you out much. She's a gynecologist.
A what?
I'm a woman's doctor.
Yes, yes. Margaret was always
running to one of those.
Well, I'll just have to take
my trade to someone else.
I, I must apologize for the
condition of this house.
You see, Mrs. Garrison
passed on just recently.
I was very sorry to hear about that.
Hundreds of letters to answer.
And look at this, Gene. We simply
must do something about this.
Your mother's magazine subscriptions.
And this book club.
I've been reading some of it.
Absolutely revolting, the things
they get away with nowadays.
I'm sure you don't read things like this.
What do you mean,
"things like this," Dad?
I'm not going to describe them
in front of this charming girl.
Are you from this area, Miss...
Did you tell me your name?
Dad, this is Peggy from California.
Do you intend to stay long, Miss...
Please, call me Peggy.
May I? Thank you.
Is that your real name,
or is it short for Margaret?
My real name's Margaret.
My wife's name was Margaret.
But she was never called Peggy or Maggie.
Always Margaret.
Yes, it would never have occurred
to me to call her Peggy.
She was a Margaret.
But Peggy is right for you.
I'm going to go tuck him
in and say good night.
Gene. Don't get mad.
I think he's charming.
Most people do.
I'll just be a minute.
Are you ready to be tucked in?
Look at all the weight I've lost.
You got quite a little pot there, Dad.
Yeah, but through here, through my chest.
We're going to put all that back on you.
You know, I never had
any hair on my chest.
I don't understand it.
You had hair on your chest.
I just never had any.
Well, I'm confident if I
can get some exercise...
Do you remember when I used
to get you up in the morning
and we'd go down and do
calisthenics to the radio?
One, two, three, four.
One, two, three, four.
Take it easy now.
You gotta wait till morning for that.
And then we... Then we'd put on the
gloves and spar on the side porch.
The manly art
of self-defense.
Gentleman Jim Corbett.
Well, I've gotta get over to the club.
Play some golf.
Sit around and swap
stories with the boys.
Too bad you never took up golf.
I was just going through
these desk drawers.
I don't know, just going over things.
I think you've seen most of them.
The family.
You know, Dad,
I don't think I've ever seen
a picture of your father.
He's just a boy.
That was taken just about
the time he got married.
He was
a fine-looking man
before he started drinking.
Big, square, high collar.
But he became my mortal enemy.
Did I ever show you this?
I'd made a home for
my brother and sister.
We were out one day and he came around
and ripped up all my
sister's clothes and shoes.
Drunk, of course.
A few days later he came
around to apologize
and ask for some money.
I threw him out.
The next day he left that note.
"You are welcome
to your burden."
And you kept it.
I didn't see him again
until many years later,
when he was dying, in Bellevue.
Somebody got word to me and I went
down to see if he wanted anything.
Said he'd like some fruit.
So, I sent him in some oranges.
He died the next day.
There must have been something
there to love and understand.
In my father?
Do you remember this, Gene?
"To the greatest dad in the
world on Father's Day."
I appreciate that, Gene.
That's a lovely tribute.
I think I have all of your
Father's Day cards here.
You know, I never wanted children,
coming from the background I did.
We didn't have Alice for a long time.
But Margaret finally persuaded me.
She said they'd be
a comfort in our old age.
And you are, Gene.
Well, I...
A program of yours from college,
some glee club concert.
I have everything in here
but the kitchen stove.
Do you still sing?
No, Dad.
No, I haven't for years.
That's too bad.
You had a good voice.
Well, we can't do everything.
I remember,
your mother'd sit at the
piano hour after hour
and I'd be up here at my desk
listening to you sing.
You... You always
used to ask me to sing.
When I Grow Too Old to Dream.
Did I?
I don't remember your ever singing that.
You always seemed to be just finishing
when I came into the room.
Did you used to sing that for me?
But you always asked me
to sing it for you.
Well, I... I certainly enjoyed
sitting up here and listening.
That was my mother.
I've seen this, Dad.
It's lovely.
She was just 25 when that was taken.
She died the next year.
I used to carry it in
my wallet all the time.
Then I felt I was wearing
it out, so I put it away.
Just a little bit of a thing.
Hey. Hey.
Hey, Dad.
I never thought it would be like this.
I always thought I'd go first.
I'm sorry.
Just comes over me. I...
It'll pass.
I'll get a hold of myself.
Don't try, Dad.
Believe me, it's best.
No, no, it... It's just that...
I'll be all right.
No, it's rough, Dad.
It's bound to be rough.
It'll pass.
It'll pass.
Dad, do you want me to help
you put these things away?
No, I... I can...
Yes, if...
If you would.
I don't know what we'd
do without you, Gene.
Dad... How'd you like Peggy?
Very nice, very attractive.
Dad, I'm...
I'm thinking very seriously
about marrying her
and going out to California to live.
Dad, I... I know this is your
home, well, what you're used to,
but, well... I'd like you to
come out there with me, Dad.
It's lovely out there
and we'd get you an apartment
close to us and...
You know, I would like
to make a suggestion.
All right.
Why don't you all come here to live?
Well, Peggy has her
practice out there, Dad.
A what?
She's a doctor, I told you.
And she has children
and they have their school and friends.
We have a big house here.
And you always liked this house.
It's wonderful for children.
You used to play baseball out back
and then there's that basketball thing.
Well, Dad, I'd like to get away
from this country for a while.
It's been rough here
ever since Carol died.
And it'd be good for
you, too, getting away.
Your mother would be very happy
to have the house full of children again.
I won't be around long, and...
And then it's all yours.
Dad, that's very kind of you.
I don't think it would work out.
Besides, Peggy's work and her children,
all her family's out there.
Your family's here.
Yes, I know.
You know, Gene, I'm just
saying this for your own good,
but you went out to California
shortly after Carol's death,
and you were exhausted
from her long illness,
and, well, naturally, very susceptible.
I'm wondering if you waited long
enough to know your own mind.
I know my own mind.
I mean, taking on another man's children.
Did you mention this California
business to your mother?
Yes, and she told me to go,
with her blessing.
She would say that, of course.
But I warned you.
For God's sakes.
All right, go ahead.
I can manage.
Send me a Christmas card if you remember.
I've asked you to come with me.
And I told you I'm not going.
Well, I can understand that.
But not this "Send me Christmas
card if you remember."
I'm sorry if I offend you.
Your mother always said I
mustn't raise my voice to you.
You want me to make it easy for
you the way your mother did?
Well, I won't.
If you want to go, go!
God damn it!
I always knew it would be like this
after your mother was gone.
I was only tolerated in this
house because I paid the bills.
Shut up!
Don't you tell me to shut up!
Shut up!
I've asked you to come with me.
What do you want?
What the hell do you want?
If I lived here the rest of my life,
it wouldn't be enough for you.
I've tried, God damn it. I've
tried to be the dutiful son.
Commanded into your presence
on every conceivable occasion.
Easter, birthdays,
Christmas, Thanksgiving.
Even that Thanksgiving
when Carol was dying
and I was staying with her in a hospital.
"We miss you so. Our day
is nothing without you."
"Couldn't you come up for an hour
or two after you leave Carol?"
You had no regard for
what was really going on.
My wife was dying!
Is it so terrible to want
to see your own son?
It's terrible to want to possess
him entirely and completely, yes.
There'll be some papers to
sign for your mother's estate.
Be sure to leave an
address with your lawyer.
From tonight on,
you can consider me dead.
I've given you everything.
Since I was
a snot-nosed kid,
I've worked my fingers
to the bone for you.
You're everything.
I am nothing.
I put a roof over your head,
clothes on your back.
Food on the table.
You ungrateful bastard!
What do you want for gratitude?
Nothing! Nothing can
be enough for you.
You resented every damn
thing you ever gave me.
The orphan boy in you
resented everything.
I'm sorry as hell about
your miserable childhood.
When I was a kid and you used
to tell me those stories,
I'd come up to my room
at night and I'd cry.
But there's nothing
I can do about it now.
And it does not excuse everything.
And I am grateful to you.
And I admire you and respect
you and stand in awe
of what you've done with your life.
I'll never even be able to touch it.
But it does not make me love
you, and I wanted to love you.
You hated your father and I
saw what that did to you,
and I did not want to hate you.
I don't care what you feel about me.
Well, I do.
I came so close to loving you tonight.
I've never felt so open to you.
You don't know what it cost
me to ask you to come with me
when I've never even been able to sit
in the same room alone with you.
You really think your door
was always open to me?
It's not my fault if you
never came through it.
Goodbye, Dad.
I'll arrange to have somebody
come and stay with you.
I don't want anyone to come in.
I can take care of myself.
I've always had to take care of myself.
Who needs you? Out!
I've lived my whole life
so that I can look any man in the
eye and tell him to go to hell.
That night, I left
my father's house forever.
I took the first right
and the second left
and this time went as far as California.
We saw each other a few times after that.
We visited him and he visited us.
But then the arteries began to harden.
We put him in a hospital
and he gradually slipped
into speechless senility.
Not long after,
sitting and staring without
comprehension at the television,
he died, alone.
Without even an orange in his hand.
Death ends a life.
But it does not end a relationship,
which struggles on in the survivor's mind
towards some resolution,
which it may never find.
Alice said I would not accept
the sadness of this world.
What does it matter if I never
loved him, or he never loved me?
Perhaps she was right.
But still, when I hear the word "father,"
it matters.