Cover image for Ironweed
Babenco, Hector.
Publication Information:
[Saint Charles, Ill.] : Olive Films, 2013.
Physical Description:
1 videodisc (143 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
It's winter, 1938 in Albany, New York. The soup kitchens and flophouses are overflowing with homeless people. Francis Phelan wanders the streets, back in his hometown after 22 years, ready to confront the family he abandoned long ago. While sharing his whiskey with longtime 'pal' Helen, Francis reveals the dark secrets of his past, the painful memories from which he once tried to escape, but now must reconcile.
General Note:
Originally produced as a motion picture in 1987.
Reading Level:
MPAA rating: R.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Lancaster Library DVD 65955 Adult DVD Audio Visual

On Order



Based on the William Kennedy novel of the same name Ironweed is set in the waning years of the Depression. Jack Nicholson plays Francis Phelan, a washed-up ballplayer (a onetime infielder for the Washington Senators) who deserted his family back in the 1910s when he accidentally killed his infant son by dropping him. Since that time, Phelan has been a shabby barfly, living from drink to drink; he spends his days palling around with Rudy (Tom Waits), with whom he works a motley series of jobs in exchange for a place to lay his head and an occasional jug of wine. Wandering into his hometown of Albany, New York, Phelan blearily seeks out his girlfriend and erstwhile drinking companion of nine years, Helen Archer (Meryl Streep), who has begun prostituting herself for drink and lodging. The two derelicts touch base in a mission managed by minister James Gammon, and later in Fred Gwynne's squalid gin mill. Over the next few days, Phelan takes a few minor jobs to support his habit, while his mind wavers between past and present. Eventually, a chance for a reconciliation with his wife (Carroll Baker) emerges. Directed by Hector Babenco following his enormous success with Kiss of the Spider Woman , Ironweed netted Oscar nominations for Nicholson and Streep. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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