A River Runs Through It (1992)

PG | 123 mins | Drama | 9 October 1992

Director:

Robert Redford

Cinematographer:

Philippe Rousselot

Production Designer:

Jon Hutman

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures
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HISTORY

Norman Maclean’s semi-autobiographical novella, A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories, was published in 1976. The same year, film rights were optioned by producer Richard Sylbert, as announced in the 15 Dec 1976 DV. William Hjortsberg was hired to write the adaptation. However, the option lapsed. In the next ten years, various Hollywood entities, including actor William Hurt, expressed interest, but Norman Maclean, distrustful of Hollywood, was reluctant to grant another option, as noted in a 4 Oct 1992 LAT article.
       In 1980, Robert Redford read the novella and was “immediately captivated” by it, as stated in a 20 Oct 1991 NYT article. A part-time resident of Utah, who, as a teenager, spent his summers working at Yosemite National Park, Robert Redford felt a unique appreciation for Maclean’s depiction of the American West. Also, based on his Scottish-Irish heritage, Redford closely identified with the book’s Scottish immigrant characters. In 1984, Maclean agreed to Redford’s proposal to meet three times over the span of six weeks, as noted in a 4 Oct 1992 LAT article. Maclean was impressed by Redford’s vision for the project, and granted the filmmaker an option, which gave Maclean first-draft script approval. The option was announced in a 13 Oct 1987 LAHExam item, which noted Redford’s Northfork Productions would produce, John Sacret Young would adapt the screenplay, and Redford would direct. No further mention of John Sacret Young appeared in contemporary sources, and he did not receive onscreen credit. On 2 Aug 1990, nearly a year before production began, Norman Maclean died, at which point surviving family members, including Maclean’s daughter Jean ... More Less

Norman Maclean’s semi-autobiographical novella, A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories, was published in 1976. The same year, film rights were optioned by producer Richard Sylbert, as announced in the 15 Dec 1976 DV. William Hjortsberg was hired to write the adaptation. However, the option lapsed. In the next ten years, various Hollywood entities, including actor William Hurt, expressed interest, but Norman Maclean, distrustful of Hollywood, was reluctant to grant another option, as noted in a 4 Oct 1992 LAT article.
       In 1980, Robert Redford read the novella and was “immediately captivated” by it, as stated in a 20 Oct 1991 NYT article. A part-time resident of Utah, who, as a teenager, spent his summers working at Yosemite National Park, Robert Redford felt a unique appreciation for Maclean’s depiction of the American West. Also, based on his Scottish-Irish heritage, Redford closely identified with the book’s Scottish immigrant characters. In 1984, Maclean agreed to Redford’s proposal to meet three times over the span of six weeks, as noted in a 4 Oct 1992 LAT article. Maclean was impressed by Redford’s vision for the project, and granted the filmmaker an option, which gave Maclean first-draft script approval. The option was announced in a 13 Oct 1987 LAHExam item, which noted Redford’s Northfork Productions would produce, John Sacret Young would adapt the screenplay, and Redford would direct. No further mention of John Sacret Young appeared in contemporary sources, and he did not receive onscreen credit. On 2 Aug 1990, nearly a year before production began, Norman Maclean died, at which point surviving family members, including Maclean’s daughter Jean Maclean Snyder and her husband, Joel Snyder, met with Redford over the script.
       According to the 13 Oct 1987 LAHExam, Northfork Productions had recently begun a co-venture with movie-theater chain Cineplex Odeon, to produce low-budget films, including A River Runs Through It, in the $5-$6 million range. However, according to a 15-21 Oct 1992 Hollywood Drama-Logue article, Cineplex Odeon’s distribution and financing arm collapsed. Carolco offered to finance the film if Redford kept the budget under $10 million, and agreed to act in a future Carolco project. Redford agreed, but Carolco encountered financial troubles and Redford was again left without financing. He took the project to executive producer Jake Eberts’s Allied Filmmakers. Eberts had previously tried to obtain rights to the novella, and quickly signed on as financier. Although a news brief in the 13 May 1991 Var stated Eberts would co-finance with Carolco, and Carolco would retain worldwide distribution rights, Carolco ultimately dropped out of the project.
       According to the 4 Oct 1992 LAT, screenwriter Richard Friedenberg initially turned down the project because he feared writing “a fishing movie.” However, once he signed on, Friedenberg conducted research in Chicago, IL, meeting with Jean and Joel Snyder, who provided him with old yearbooks and love letters between Norman Maclean and his wife, Jessie. Friedenberg’s screenplay strayed from source material by enhancing the role of “Jessie Burns,” rearranging chronological events, and compressing them into a smaller time frame. Friedenberg also made the details of “Paul Maclean’s” murder clearer than in the book. In order to preserve Maclean’s language, Redford decided to add an unseen narrator who could repeat lines from the novella verbatim. Although he auditioned twenty-six actors and author Wallace Stegner for the voice-over narration, Redford was not satisfied and decided to use his own voice, despite concerns that viewers might see it as egotistical.
       The 30 Jul 1991 HR production chart listed 17 Jun 1991 as the start of principal photography. Filming began in Livingston, MT, according to a 20 Jun 1991 DV brief. For fly-fishing sequences, the Gallatin River stood in for the Big Blackfoot River, which had become too polluted from clearcut logging to be used in the film, as noted in a 20 Oct 1996 NYT article. Various sources, including the 29 Sep 1992 NYT, cited the budget as $12 million.
       Elmer Bernstein was initially hired as music composer, as stated in the 25 May 1992 Var. However, Bernstein’s score was found unsuitable, and Redford hired Mark Isham to replace him, with only three weeks to complete a new score.
       Although the 20 Jun 1991 DV reported that Seven Arts would distribute in the U.S., with Carolco handling foreign territories, distribution changed hands when Carolco left the project. Columbia Pictures’ worldwide production president, Michael Nathanson, had been following the production for a year and a half, and keeping in close contact with Redford, before Columbia was shown an early edit of the film, as noted in the 29 Oct 1992 HR “Hollywood Report” column. A 19 May 1992 DV item stated a bidding war for domestic distribution rights arose between Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios, and Columbia. With a bid of $8 million, Columbia won the rights, as noted in the 25 May 1992 Var. The acquisition of a completed film marked the first such deal for Columbia since Mark Canton had become studio head in Oct 1991.
       A River Runs Through It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 11 Sep 1992. Subsequent benefit screenings took place on 19 Sep 1992 in Bozeman, MT, and 1 Oct 1992 at AMPAS theater. The Bozeman screening raised several thousand dollars toward the restoration of the Big Blackfoot River, while the AMPAS screening raised $45,000 for the Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford, as stated in the 15 Oct 1992 LAT. The theatrical release took place 9 Oct 1992, over a four-day Columbus Day weekend, on twelve screens. The second week expanded to a total of twenty-four screens, and the third week added 106 playdates, for a total of 130. On 30 Oct 1992, after the film had grossed $2.9 million in nineteen days, the release widened to 800 theaters, according to the 30 Oct 1992 HR.
       Critical reception was mixed. Reviews in the 9 Oct 1992 LAT and NYT criticized the courtship scenes between Norman and Jessie, which were not in Norman Maclean’s novella, as “tedious” and “tacked-on feeling.” However, consistent praise went to Brad Pitt’s performance, frequently referred to as “star-making” and reminiscent of a young Robert Redford.
       A River Runs Through It won an Academy Award for Cinematography, and was nominated for Music (Original Score) and Writing (Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published). Robert Redford was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture, and Richard Friedenberg and the late Norman Maclean received the University of Southern California (USC) Scripter Award for 1992’s best film realization of a book. The 23 Nov 1992 Var reported Columbia Pictures won an Excellence in Film Marketing Award from the Film Information Council.
       An advertisement by anti-smoking activist group SmokeFree Educational Services ran for two weeks in DV, protesting the unnecessary portrayal of smoking in A River Runs Through It and Ron Howard’s Backdraft (1991, see entry), as noted in a 6 Feb 1993 People brief. The group’s aim was to get Hollywood filmmakers to adhere to television’s guidelines that “actors do not smoke unless smoking is essential to the role.”
       End credits include the following: “Special Thanks to Orvis for technical support and equipment, and to: Abel Reels; American Museum of Fly Fishing; Bob Auger; Barbour Country Clothing; Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited; Gary Borger Enterprises; Len Codella; Dai Riki; Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop; Depuys Spring Creek; Federation of Fly Fishers; Fly Fisherman Magazine; Hardy USA; Heritage Sporting Collectibles; Lee Hirsch; Norman Means Family; Montana Fish, Parks and Wildlife; Northwest River Supplies; Ed Pearlman; Perk Perkins; Phoenix Silk Lines; The Pott Fly Company; Red Ball Waders; River Run Imports; Sage Rods; 3M/Scientific Anglers; Scott Rods; Trout Unlimited, Inc.; Doug Truax; Joseph Urbani & Associates, Inc.; E. Richard Vincent; Walton Powell Rods; Weinbrenner Wading Boots; Wheatley Fly Boxes; R.L. Winston Rod Co.”; “Photographs courtesy of: C. Owen Smithers Collection; Dartmouth College Library; Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana; Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana; Culver Pictures, Inc.; National Tea Co., Chicago, Illinois; Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University; U.S. Signal Corps; U.S. Forest Service”; “Photographic research and services: Stuart Bratesman, Dartmouth College; Dean Brown, Bozeman; Steve Jackson, Curator of Art & Photography, Musuem of the Rockies; Julie Ryan, Scott Shigley, Ron Gordon Photographic Services, Chicago; Dale Johnson, Director, Special Collections, University of Montana; Paul Monaco, Director, Media Studies, Montana State University; Denise Stenzel, Darkroom Assistant, Bozeman”; “‘First Fig,’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Collected Poems, Harper & Row, Copyright 1922, 1950 Edna St. Vicnent Millay, Used by permission of Elizabeth Barnett, Literary Executor”; “Special Thanks to: American Safety Razor Co.; Applegate Boatworks of Eugene, Oregon; Rain Burns & Apple Computer; Cap Barbell; Gunnar Brickson; Tom Cajka; Adam Lustig; Forest Service, U.S.D.A.; Montana Beverages Ltd.; Livingston Rebuild Center; Arthur Sanderson & Son; Christopher Norman, Inc.; Bette L. Smith; Bert Schneiderman; Lonie Stimac, Montana Film Commission; L. J. & G. Stickley Furniture, Co.; Doug Wonders, Park County Sheriff’s Dept.; John Sullivan, Livingston Enterprise; Waterford Wedgewood, U.S.A."
       Additional statements read: "Our special thanks to the people of Livingston and Bozeman who shared the beauty of Montana's mountains and rivers with us. We enjoyed living and working in your community and all of us departed with a more profound appreciation for the land that Norman Maclean so eloquently captured in his novella"; and, "No fish were killed or injured during the making of A River Runs Through It. The producers would like to point out that, although the Macleans kept their catch as was common earlier in this century, enlightened fishermen today endorse a 'catch and release' policy to assure that this priceless resource swims free to fight another day. Good fishing." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1976.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1991.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 1992
p. 3, 18.
Daily Variety
20 May 1992.
---
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1992
p. 8.
Hollywood Drama-Logue
15-21 Oct 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1990
p. 1, 46.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1992
p. 7, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1992
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1993.
---
LAHExam
13 Oct 1987
Section A, p. 2.
Long Beach Press-Telegram
1 Apr 1989.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
6 Feb 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Oct 1992
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1992
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Oct 1992.
---
New York Times
7 Jul 1991
Section A, p. 11.
New York Times
20 Oct 1991
Section A, p. 17.
New York Times
29 Sep 1992
Section C, p. 11.
New York Times
9 Oct 1992
p. 1.
New York Times
20 Oct 1996
p. 32.
The Times (London)
1 Apr 1993.
---
Variety
13 May 1991.
---
Variety
25 May 1992.
---
Variety
21 Sep 1992
p. 84.
Variety
23 Nov 1992.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Film by Robert Redford
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Clapper loader
Clapper loader
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Addl grip
Addl fish photog
Period still photog
Spec still photog
Spec still photog
Spec still photog
Spec still photog
Video asst
Video asst
Dir of photog, 2d unit crew
1st asst cam, 2d unit crew
2d asst cam, 2d unit crew
Addl cam asst, 2d unit crew
Key grip, 2d unit crew
Cranes and dollies provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
Art dept intern
Storyboard artist
Fly fishing storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Post prod supv
1st asst film ed
1st asst film ed
1st asst film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Asst set dec
On set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Asst const coord
Scenic chargeman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Draper
Prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Asst prop master
Lead carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic foreman
Greensman
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Set costumer
Set costumer
Costumer - Los Angeles
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Ward prod asst
Ward prod asst
Ward prod asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Orch and conducting
SOUND
Prod sd
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd des
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd des
Dial ed
ADR ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR mixer
Foley rec
ADR rec
Voice casting
Post prod sd services provided by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Main title and montage seq des by
Opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Head make-up artist
Asst make-up
Head hairstylist
Addl make-up
Asst hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Consultant
Consultant
Asst to Robert Redford
Asst to Robert Redford
Asst to Patrick Markey
Prod coord
Prod controller
Pre=prod supv
Scr supv
Casting assoc - New York
Casting assoc - Los Angeles
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Fly fishing prod coord
Fly fishing adv
Tech adv/Period fly tier
Fly casting consultant
Trout Unlimited adv
Trout Unlimited adv
Trout Unlimited adv
Trout Unlimited adv
Fisheries biologist
Fish provider
Mechanical fish op
Federation of Fly Fishers adv
Montana State Fisheries adv
Humane Society adv
White water services
White water services
White water services
White water consultant
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
U.S. Forest Service ranger
Dial coach
Dial coach
Public relations, PMK
Unit pub
Dir, EPK unit - Montana State University Film Scho
EPK unit - Montana State University Film School
EPK unit - Montana State University Film School
EPK unit - Montana State University Film School
EPK unit - Montana State University Film School
Personal trainer
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Animal trainer
Medic coord
Security, Treasure State Security
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Key set prod asst
Mr. Redford's intern
Mr. Redford's intern
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
University of Chicago intern
University of Chicago intern
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Housing coord
Unit supv, 2d unit crew
Scr supv, 2d unit crew
Key set prod asst, 2d unit crew
Completion bond services provided by
Payroll services provided by
Legal services provided by
Prod insurance provided by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the story "A River Runs Through It" by Norman Maclean in his A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories (Chicago, 1976).
SONGS
"The Sheik Of 'Araby,'" written by Harry B. Smith, Ted Snyder and Francis Wheeler, used by permission of Mills Music Corp., Inc./Jerry Vogel Music Co./Ted Snyder Music Co./Bienstock Publishing Co., on behalf of Redwood Music Ltd.
"Bye Bye Blackbird," performed by Prudence Johnson, written by Mort Dixon and Ray Henderson, Warner Bros., Inc./Olde Clover Leaf Music Co./Ray Henderson Music Co./Beinstock Publishing Co., on behalf of Redwood Music Ltd.
"Muskrat Ramble," written by Ray Gilbert and Edward "Kid" Ory, George Simon Music Co./Janiero Music Co.
+
SONGS
"The Sheik Of 'Araby,'" written by Harry B. Smith, Ted Snyder and Francis Wheeler, used by permission of Mills Music Corp., Inc./Jerry Vogel Music Co./Ted Snyder Music Co./Bienstock Publishing Co., on behalf of Redwood Music Ltd.
"Bye Bye Blackbird," performed by Prudence Johnson, written by Mort Dixon and Ray Henderson, Warner Bros., Inc./Olde Clover Leaf Music Co./Ray Henderson Music Co./Beinstock Publishing Co., on behalf of Redwood Music Ltd.
"Muskrat Ramble," written by Ray Gilbert and Edward "Kid" Ory, George Simon Music Co./Janiero Music Co.
"Yes, We Have No Bananas," written by Frank Silver and Irving Conn, Skidmore Music Co., Inc.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1992
Premiere Information:
Toronto Film Festival premiere: 11 September 1992
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 October 1992
Production Date:
began 17 June 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Filmmakers, N.V.
Copyright Date:
30 November 1992
Copyright Number:
PA591061
Physical Properties:
Sound
This film mixed and recorded in a THX Sound Systems Theater; Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31883
SYNOPSIS

Reverend Maclean, a devout Presbyterian and fly fisherman, raises his two sons, Norman and Paul, to have a deep appreciation for God, nature, and the art of fly-fishing. In the mornings, the boys are home-schooled by Rev. Maclean in Missoula, Montana, but in the afternoons, they are free to fish for trout in the nearby Big Blackfoot River. Straitlaced Norman admires younger brother Paul’s toughness and rebellious streak, not to mention his natural talent for fly-fishing. In 1917, the U.S. Army claims many of Missoula’s lumberjacks to fight in World War I. Sixteen-year-old Norman goes to work for the U.S. Forest Service in their absence, while Paul works as a lifeguard and continues to hone his skills as a fisherman. When Rev. Maclean offers to pay his college tuition at any school, Norman is deeply honored and applies to Dartmouth University, where he spends the next six years studying and broadening his horizons. In the meantime, Paul takes a job as a newspaper reporter in Helena. Norman returns home from college to find Paul has developed a reputation as the “fishing newspaperman,” and has invented his own fly-fishing technique, called “shadowcasting.” Observing him in the water, Norman determines that Paul has truly become an artist. It is also more obvious now that Paul is the Macleans’ favorite son, despite having developed drinking and gambling habits. At a Fourth of July dance, Norman becomes smitten with a young woman named Jessie Burns. On their first date, Norman and Jessie meet Paul and his Native American girl friend, Mabel, at a speakeasy. The bouncer, Murphy, informs Paul that no Native Americans are allowed inside, but Paul ignores him and demands a ... +


Reverend Maclean, a devout Presbyterian and fly fisherman, raises his two sons, Norman and Paul, to have a deep appreciation for God, nature, and the art of fly-fishing. In the mornings, the boys are home-schooled by Rev. Maclean in Missoula, Montana, but in the afternoons, they are free to fish for trout in the nearby Big Blackfoot River. Straitlaced Norman admires younger brother Paul’s toughness and rebellious streak, not to mention his natural talent for fly-fishing. In 1917, the U.S. Army claims many of Missoula’s lumberjacks to fight in World War I. Sixteen-year-old Norman goes to work for the U.S. Forest Service in their absence, while Paul works as a lifeguard and continues to hone his skills as a fisherman. When Rev. Maclean offers to pay his college tuition at any school, Norman is deeply honored and applies to Dartmouth University, where he spends the next six years studying and broadening his horizons. In the meantime, Paul takes a job as a newspaper reporter in Helena. Norman returns home from college to find Paul has developed a reputation as the “fishing newspaperman,” and has invented his own fly-fishing technique, called “shadowcasting.” Observing him in the water, Norman determines that Paul has truly become an artist. It is also more obvious now that Paul is the Macleans’ favorite son, despite having developed drinking and gambling habits. At a Fourth of July dance, Norman becomes smitten with a young woman named Jessie Burns. On their first date, Norman and Jessie meet Paul and his Native American girl friend, Mabel, at a speakeasy. The bouncer, Murphy, informs Paul that no Native Americans are allowed inside, but Paul ignores him and demands a table. He proceeds to turn heads by dancing provocatively with Mabel. Late one night, Norman gets word that Paul has been arrested for beating a man in a bar fight. He arrives at the police station, where an officer assures him that Paul, who is well-connected with police, will not be charged with any crime. However, the officer warns Norman that Paul drinks too much and has amassed a major debt in a “big stud poker game” that takes place in Lolo Hot Springs. As they drive home, Norman offers Paul money, but Paul ignores him. Soon, Jessie Burns’s brother, Neal, returns home from Hollywood, California, for a brief visit. Neal is a womanizer, a pathological liar, and an alcoholic, and he immediately grates on Norman’s nerves. Nevertheless, when Jessie’s mother urges him to spend time with Neal, Norman agrees. They make plans to go fishing with Paul. However, Neal shows up drunk with a woman in tow. Norman and Paul fish while Neal and his companion drink more alcohol and fall asleep naked in the sun. Norman drives Neal home, and Jessie reprimands him for allowing her brother to get a sunburn. She later admits Neal needs help, and wonders aloud why the people who need help most never accept it. Norman is offered a job teaching literature at the University of Chicago in Illinois. He and Paul go out to celebrate, and end up in Lolo Hot Springs. Norman observes nervously as Paul tries to enter his usual poker game but is rejected by the other players. Paul insists on staying. He gives Norman the keys to his car and sends him away. Norman frets the next morning when Paul has not returned home. Sitting down to breakfast with their parents, he is relieved when Paul finally arrives. Norman announces the news of his job offer, and the Macleans, though subdued, express great pride in their son. The men decide to go fishing that day. Paul becomes agitated when Norman catches two fish, and he has none. Norman confesses to Paul that he plans to marry Jessie, and, hoping to draw him away from his local troubles, invites him to come to Chicago with them. Paul laughs and says he will never leave Montana. From the shore, Norman and Rev. Maclean observe as Paul catches a large trout and swims downstream to keep it on his line. Paul emerges from the water with the massive catch, and the men marvel at it. Just before he and Jessie leave for Chicago, Norman gets word that Paul was beaten to death and left in an alley. He and his parents mourn. Over time, Norman notices that Paul has never left his father’s thoughts. On a trip home from Chicago, Norman attends church and hears Rev. Maclean speak of Paul, indirectly, during a sermon about people who elude others’ attempts to help them. Rev. Maclean concludes the answer is to continue loving those people, no matter what. As an old man, Norman fishes in the Big Blackfoot River and reflects on his dead loved ones, including Jessie. He believes the river contains personal history, and claims he is “haunted by waters.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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