1999 saw the release of this absolute gem, starring Richard Farnsworth and directed by David Lynch. The Straight Story is the biographical tale of Alvin Straight and his journey to meet and reconcile with his older brother who lives two states across the USA.
The difficulty for Alvin.... he can't drive and has failing health to contend with. So Alvin undertakes this journey on his trusty lawnmower, setting off on a near 400km journey.
This is the first of three DAVID LYNCH movies that we'll be delving into, so be sure to stay tuned for future episodes!
Until then, we remain...
The Straight Story
Sidey: Not the name of your sex tape. Pete, we watched 1999 is the straight story. This is going to be part one of a trilogy of David Lynch, nominations from you that I'm picking for you. So we'll take several weeks. We've tried to get through it, but we will get through it. I opted this one first because it's Gentle introduction into the world of David Lynch.
And that it's nothing like any of his other stuff.
Pete: No, I, I mean, I've, I was only, I've only been aware of David Lynch stuff from twin peaks. I'd never heard of this And I've subsequently seen at least one other David Lynch film, which was the original June, which is bonkers and twin peaks is bonkers.
And so I guess I was kind of expecting something equally as bonkers
Sidey: He states this has being his weirdest movie.
Pete: Well, I guess when you consider, if, if everything else that he's done that I've seen is the norm, then this is weird. Cause it's abnormal.
Sidey: Has anyone seen this before? Or
Dan: I had seen this before,
Sidey: oh, you just works the highlights in
Dan: that's right. Yeah.
I just kind of got to Gritch of it. I mean, it's, it's one of those. As you say, David Lynch movies that you. don't See this coming. You think it's normally a bit abstract? His films aren't there. and They're they're a little weird way. This is a straight a story.
Pete: Well, one thing I, I did notice early on was like, I don't know, obviously he doesn't do the soundtracks necessarily, but he must have some, but there was a bit of a bow and stuff like over the, the intro kind of.
Scene and music was like, sort of seemed like small town.
Sidey: He loves that. He loves that small town what's lurking behind the picket fence. You know, the next one that we watched literally starts like that. so the very opening shot is just stars. It's just a shot. And then the topography that comes up, it says a David Lynch from Australia.
It's the fucking star wars.
Lettering font. Yeah. And I was like, that's a weird way to induce it. And then the music kicks in and the music's done by, oh shit. Is it Angelo? Battler, mentee. It's the same guys going to be. And some of it sounds like it's going to turn it. It's like a remix or a B side of a twin peaks track.
So you were kind of a little bit sort of taken aback by the, by the beginning. We're not taking about, but you don't know quite if you don't know what the story is going to be. You don't know where you're at. The story. It's a, it's a biographical picture. So this is actually a true story of a chap called.
Alvin straight, essentially the film is just his journey across a couple of states in America, on his lawn mower to meet and reconcile with his estranged brother. In a nutshell, that is it. And
Pete: It's essentially a road trip.
Sidey: a really slow.
Dan: a road movie. Yeah. It's Richard phone's worth
is the CA the, the actor that plays out even
Dan: A superb isn't he? He was,
Pete: him in anything
Dan: it was in misery. I don't know if you've ever watched misery.
Pete: misery Is that the tight writer? It's not him though.
Dan: He's the cop.
Pete: Right. Oh, all I can remember is care. Cassie Bates and the bloke. Yeah. So I have seen that film, but I didn't remember him from it
Dan: in the natural with Robert Redford back a while back.
He started as a stunt man and moved into film as you
do Not such.
Yeah. He's no, he's decent. You know He, he can cut it for
He definitely has.
Screen presence and you know, it, he uses a, you know, a lot of his, I guess, acting range in this.
Dan: to make a remake of it. Jason Mamoa is going to be in it, but
Pete: That's good. Excuse that your own that's decent.
Sidey: The, the intro shot is an exterior shot of his house and the neighbor's house. And there's a lady sunbathing and. Alvin's daughter leaves the house and she says goodbye. And then the other lady nips in doors to grab some snacks and drinks. And there's a thought from his house. I don't quite know exactly what it is.
And then the lady comes back out and then you cut to his grumpy old mates in the pub and he's clearly missed their weekly or daily, whatever it is, rendezvous, the Boozer said, one of them, like I'm going to go over there and see where he is and they go round and he's had a fall and he's sort of prone on the floor and needs help.
So it's clear that his health is. Yeah, deteriorate. It's not tech job.
Pete: no, I mean, he's, he's senior in years and he lives in some kind of like weird Porter cabin type thing. And there seems to be a little a collection of these, like, I mean, they're buildings, but only just, they seem to be very, they're all like very like flat roof.
One story, just a few like a network of rooms in these things that look like at anytime. It could be picked up and moved somewhere else. If needs be.
Dan: look like those kind of, yeah. Portable houses. They just. throw up
Sidey: So we, we are introduced to his daughter, played by sissy Spacek and she has clear some learning difficulties and she's living at home with him.
And we don't immediately know. Exactly the backstory about that. It's a couple of shots that we see of her looking longingly out the window. There's one scene where a ball rolls across the, the sidewalk or the pavement and a little kid, he runs up to her and she's just sort of staring out and you kind of get a feeling of something's happened with children at some point.
He's she takes him to the doctor and he's told, you know, you've got to stop smoking and drinking, which doesn't drink disease. No, it's not the booze, but is, it does not particularly healthy. And as soon as he leaves, he sparks up a massive cigar. So set in his ways. It is a grumpy old man,
Pete: Yeah. And, and the, the, the trips to the doctor confirms that he's got Dickie hips and walking is, is troublesome. I think that's when he gets the, the
Sidey: and he says, you need a Walker. There's no Walker, no extra paying for any x-rays and I'm not doing this and I'm not doing that. He's like, well, just at least have a second cane. Yeah.
Pete: And they also like again, he probably already knows this, but his eyesight is failing him fairly dramatically.
Sidey: And then the news gets to him that his brother's just had a stroke. So he too is. Ailing and struggling say, says to his daughter, I'm going to go back on the road. She's like, you can't drive, you know, I, you going to do that. And he's like, I haven't figured it out yet, but you know, I've got a, I've got to go meet him.
They haven't spoken in 10, 15 years or whatever it is.
Pete: And this is his older brother and bearing it bearing in mind that he's an old dude. Anyway, you're wondering what certain neck, especially after a stroke, his older brother is going to be,
Sidey: So he hatches this idea to ride his Red's mower, rarely be up old thing. Across two states I bought directly the top speed, I think like two miles an hour.
there was a sort of comedic thing where it's just a big, long straight road and he sets off on it. Literally just pulling down the road and stays on a phrase and you're like, my God, it's going to take fucking.
But that one blows up and his friends from the town it's fucking old population is tap.
Everyone seems to be 67 years old. They were like, well, he isn't going to make it down the high street and blah blah. And sure enough, he comes trundling back into town and he's tapped between his legs because he hasn't made it very far. And we are introduced to big ed from Jim peaks.
Dan: I've not seen twin peaks, but he's the guy I
Sidey: that was in the John Deere.
Dan: Joe, he He's the lawnmower guy.
Sidey: He was big ed and Jim peace.
How can you remember that?
Pete: can't remember it. Give me, give me some other,
Pete: okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, yes,
Sidey: 19, his husband.
yeah. I've got it. I've got it. Yup. I know.
Sidey: He was in June as well. He played know, definitely likes to reuse the
Pete: he probably going to get this wrong now? Is he the old guy in breaking birds? That, that is basically the one that you pay the money to and he can get you a whole new life and stuff.
He's got like.
Sidey: oh, I don't remember. It's Everett. Miguel is the actor, but in any case he sells him still an old, lawn mower, but a reliable one that he's had himself and fixed off.
And by way he said $300 dollars.
Dragging this big trailer with him is he loses his hat down the road. And the first thing he does, basically, the rest of the story is just what happens along the journey. And it's very sedate. The first one is a hitchhiker. Clearly he can't be picking up anyone. He sets up camp for the night.
And this lady that was trying to hitch a ride stumbled across his camp site. And he says, I couldn't get a ride. Is it all right if I just sit with you
Dan: the way. Doesn't he? And You know, he's on a lawn mower. Some of those are going through a rough patch. It seems a dream made in heaven, really.
And as he, as he wanders through the um
Sidey: rough patch,
Dan: yeah, rough patch here
as as he as he kind of goes through he meets these different people. at Disney.
There's the one gal who
Sidey: She's pregnant and run away from home. And he gives her that he goes a little anecdote about family and, and sticks and she leaves the
Dan: Yeah. And, and he has these little
interactions along the way with different people.
And they're all quite transient, but you, you kind of learn something from each
as well. they're almost conversations in real time. where There's no rush you almost there, you know, you can hear with the gal there, the
Sidey: it just, it just serves up a little bit of wisdom, a little bit like a little jam. Every time he says to her about the family and she looks at his trailer and it's like, what a piece of junk?
And he's just like, eat your sausage, you know,
Pete: yeah, your Wiener. But I think as well, you, you also find out more about him and his family.
I think maybe in the, with the pregnant girl is where you find out about his daughter.
That's in a pub. Okay. Sorry. But you, you, you, you find out more, you know, each, each meeting
Dan: we had 14 kids, you find
Sidey: yeah. Seven survive.
Some of those
Dan: sort of died in the late nineties or early
eighties or wherever it is. I'm not surprised, you know,
So he's had the cause he's a world war two vet isn't he? I mean, he's got issues and, and past himself. And
feud where his brother is, is been on his mind, He you know, it takes sometimes those things, doesn't it?
A big thing, like a stroke or for yourself, just to remind you of your.
Sidey: Well, they, they both know, he knows, he knows he's going out and he doesn't want to leave it like that. When they're both before it's too late to say, you know, we never ever find out exactly what the fight was about. No, they just, they just see this.
Hence they were drunk
Dan: be anything. does it. It's just,
sometimes family fights like that and they just wind each other up and they, they get on and he just wants to stay up at the stars on the porch with his brother. One more
time. and, and just be,
Pete: He alludes to the fact that it was like just a squabble. It was nothing of significant importance that hadn't been like a, you know, anything on the hand had gone on it. It was just, they didn't agree about something. At some point and then stop an old mules as they are. They just then became a strange from each other.
One, one thing that I, I liked about like the, the meetings along the way. Is almost all the people that you met were younger than him, even if it was seen already 10 years or whatever, but everyone, even if not at first, then immediately sort of like found a respect for him and what they were interested to hear that he meets a lot of bikers.
then ends up at like what their barbecue or whatever it is. And you know, some of the guys maybe like they weren't, half of it was kind of poking fun at him, a band. He was like, you know, what's it like to be so old? And, but they then sit down and listen to what he has to say. And then he does kind of like command that respect.
Cause he just looks like a. That's lived a long existence and probably has a load of stories to tell. And he does all, albeit those stories. Aren't like incredible. Other than when I've seen that, we were definitely a presumed going to talk about later on where he meets another fellow veteran and sits in a bar with him.
Sidey: I like when he has the more trouble with the lawnmower and the two, the two brothers try and rip him off.
Well, don't try me if they just give him an invoice and he, the way to shake them down. I don't need that. I'm not going to pay for that. And it's just his attitude. I wish I could negotiate like that
Pete: when they say, when he says like, oh, w w what's the price going to be? And he says, it's this? And he goes, oh, I presume that's double because you're twins, which is quite a clever way of handling it.
Dan: And he says, at one point, you know, a guy asked him, what's the worst thing about getting old. And he says, remembering. Yourself, when you were young you know, and all the things that you could do, and it kind of just makes him stop a minute.
There's an It And they're looking,
Pete: yeah. Where is that? I'm lucky. I don't remember anything
Sidey: we get a lot of drama, the most drama, as long as journey when he hit his brakes that fail, he just can't stop himself going down this hill and he's he's going off fucking seriously quick.
Pete: He's got the weight of this, this trailer behind him, and it is quite a steep. And yeah, gravity, gravity becomes as enemy momentarily and, and cause you kind of, the shot shows him kind of losing control and it shows like the church at the bottom of the hill and I'm thinking he's going to stuck it into the church yet.
But all that happens is he ends up coming to.
A bit of a stop. And, and everyone in the, in like who's from the village who's out like kind of looks and was like, what the fuck is this guy doing
Sidey: 'cause, this is all really rural. And they, they, they keep mentioning this town. I can't remember. Was it Massachusetts where they say, and they keep saying, oh, that's a real party town relative to this.
Like, I don't think of it. You know what I mean?
Dan: You know, the whole landscape. you said is not going to be flat the whole way, but it pretty much is there are a couple of little Hills,
Sidey: but straight boring
Dan: well they all long, straight, but it's really beautifully shot. And You know, it was just a lot.
green and open space and things like that.
But they, they do make that look absolutely stunning. And just having that kind of the journey, you know, go in at stretching
in front of him and also what he's done behind it really.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah, I dunno. I'm sure you've got the numbers, so, but w how long is the journey? I, I didn't really get an appreciation for it. I didn't, I thought
which is what, like 10 miles and back 20
Sidey: It's actually only 390 kilometers,
but he has a top speed of five miles
Pete: Yeah. So it's going to take months, which it does, especially when you're at that age. And.
I mean, I did it doesn't address some of the questions that I had, like shits and um well obviously like pieces are fairly self-explanatory, but yeah, you don't see him like doing any turds
Sidey: No, you don't see that in many films though.
Pete: you don't, but I
Sidey: know in our main feature this way we did, but not.
Yeah. Yeah, not, not that I needed to see it necessarily, but I was thinking that
Dan: but it is true, Pete, You know, there's so many films that you don't show anyone shooting and You just wonder, what, you know, if you've gone through hold wholly star wars,
Sidey: I know I just need to see one shit just to know that it can be done, you know?
Sidey: He breaks down, like you say, in this town, by this church. And the guest gets a lot of offers for help and he's, he's okay at taking the help as long as he's able to pay people back. But he actually will not go into people's houses or take any, they won't take charity from anyone even.
I think he makes a phone call about getting repairs and he leaves money on the doorstep.
Pete: Yeah. He won't even go
Sidey: very proud.
Pete: he asked, oh, have you got one of those phones with the, like a wireless one or with a really long extending cable?
Cause he doesn't want. Impose himself upon
Sidey: Yeah they have quite a deeper, meaningful conversation and he, they cause he stays there a little while, while he's getting repairs done and by bond.
And that they're sort of sorry to see him go.
Pete: Yeah, because I think this is it, it didn't, I couldn't really get a feel for it, but I think this is maybe like days and possibly even weeks, but he's also run out of money at this age.
He's waiting for a check, like a social security check. Delivered to his daughter's house, which the, she then has to pay in so that he can then presumably get it from the bank. So he's, he's he stays put for a little while. But this, this is the town where he has the, the deeper, meaningful with the the fellow VAT.
Dan: all those kinds of things. Just build into the character and just give you an idea of how proud this guy is. And with that pride, maybe some of the reason why he's been 10 years since he spoken to his brother
You mentioned that both the same at loggerheads save. If it's something trivial they're not going to, going to back
Pete: And you find out that he's kind of buried or had to carry around with him quite a significant trauma from his experiences in the second world war. I mean, he couldn't have been there long because obviously the Americans didn't bother until right. At the very end of it.
Sidey: But it's practically done.
Pete: Yeah, it was already, the Brits had already won it already, but he's.
He tells a story after is that the guy, his drinking buddy is just hold a, you know, an, an emotional story. And as you know, cried a lot he then tells his story about how he was a sniper. And yeah, it's quite gut wrenching, this, this part because his acting is so fucking good.
got an Oscar
Pete: Wow. Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Yeah.
Sidey: I thought it was so significant this point that he still wouldn't drink at this point. He drinks milk in his bite. He doesn't, he does have a bear when he gets real close to his brother. So when he finally succumbs to having a, he wants a beer. But yeah, it's, it's, it's powerful, that's it? And I think they play some effects, a little bit of a sound of a.
Of the war That's what the whole film is quite sort of touching and
Pete: and for everyone's benefit, the story is that he's he was a sniper and one of the guy and basically he's, he can see in the distance, in no man's land. I think it was somebody moving in there.
So he's, he's taken the shot. And then it's only afterwards you find out that it's one of them. You know, whatever you, what'd, you call them like calm rates who was making his way back over no man's land to, to their, like where they're stationed and he's taking them down with it with a, with a headshot.
And he doesn't let you know, they're all sort of, you know, saying, oh, it must've been like German snipers and everything, and he doesn't let us. He knows it was actually him. And so he's, he's, I don't know. It doesn't actually sort of deal with, is that the first
Pete: he's spoken about it, I'm not sure, but he's carried that around for, you know, what must be fucking 60 years or something that he shot one of his own.
And that really like deeply affects them. So,
Sidey: but he is able to get back on the road. And he gets very close stops again, has a beer where he tells someone about, you know, Oh, I'm going to meet my brother.
And, and he, he stopped. He sort of trespasses in some church grounds doesn't he and the priest guy comes out and speaks to him and he says, look, I'm really sorry for, for staying here. He says, no, don't worry. It's fine. And he explains he's off to see Lyle, his brother. And he says, oh, well, Australia, he lives in.
He knows where he is and, and sort of knows everything. Proper church guy, man, but he's this kind of cranky, eccentric guy lives in this like hot. And he points them in the right direction. So he goes off on his way. And just as he's getting there is, is track to breaks down again. I should say it breaks down again.
But it does someone stops and it does. He does mostly get it going again. It just sort of pulls up and it's quite, oh, how they, you know, what's the reaction going to be?
Dan: Yeah. Well, if it gets off Disney, the lawn mower, 20, 30 meters from
his brother's house and he kind of the open porch.
a chair. Nobody sat on, it looks, it looks like nobody's living there.
To be honest, it looks
Sidey: pretty run down
Dan: pretty run down. There's doors flapping and things you think, oh, and he shouted. and there's nothing it's just that,
that minute or so, and you can see he, his face just drops a little bit and this just credit to the hectic. Cause you can read everything. That's going through his mind, just for his eyes and his facial expressions.
And he's for a moment, he thinks he's too late, you know, and then he is. a little sound better commotion and the smallest kind of flicker of happiness just comes over his face. And then he's back to that feeling of, or the FA how the fuck is this going
to go You know, but it's, you can see just for a second that it was worried, then he heard the, oh, he's there he's there. it hasn't been a completely wasted journey?
I'm going to get to see him. and and you just have this kind of really touching scene where.
Sidey: Did they even say anything to each other before they sit down, it just pulls up a peer. He just sits down and Lao sits down and it's Harry Dean Stanton. Who's another like David Lynch, frequent collaborator
Dan: playing the older brother, but he didn't look,
Sidey: looks younger.
He does look younger. I thought, well, he's not in great neck himself. And all he says is you really drive her on that thing that thing's like, yep, that's it. And then they just look up at the stars
Dan: at us the stars
kind of know. You know, without having been told that yeah, things are going to be okay, but they were just ready for that. And just to, to sit down and he knows that's a long fucking way in a little more.
Sidey: They say Dan Richard funds was academy award nominated for. Best actor for this. He didn't win though. I
won it that year.
Billy crystal was the
Pete: it can't be good. Bitty crystal.
Dan: He was,
Sidey: I want to say possibly
Dan: of pointed out and he made her a bit of
Sidey: Possibly Russell Crowe, I want to say, but that might've been the year after. He was the oldest at the time at 79 3 nominated that went last year when Anthony Hopkins was 83 when he was not at one.
And I think it was a weird record of the highest, the oldest and the youngest and the same. Bracket. I think
Dan: Oh, of nominations.
Sidey: it was some, some little kid. I can't remember. It was
Dan: Cause I think he picked up a nomination. earlier in his,
Sidey: No, I think it might've been Haley Joel Osment for that could be bullshit. But yeah, he didn't win and unfortunately this is really sad.
So while he was filming this, he had terminal.
Was that they knew about and he killed himself not a year after this finished. He shot himself and ended all, I guess it was pretty painful and rubbish and didn't want to go on any further. So he did that just really shit.
Dan: Okay. Well yeah, it was, it was a film.
I remember watching, I've probably seen it twice before to be honest. And I've enjoyed it both times. It's It's just a lovely story. Totally goes. If you've seen David Lynch films and that puts you off this film, then don't worry about it. It's more gut feels of the emotion. Like the elephant man or something.
David Lynch film, where he
just pulls on the emotions of you know, it's about dignity. and Yeah.
Pete: It's heartwarming even. Yeah. Even though it's tinge with sadness because of, you know, a lot of the, the things around the plot, it's it is very heartwarming.
I mean, for me, this is like, Pattison should take note here, right? I was watching this thinking like, this is a film where not a lot is happening. I'm not expecting, there's not, I know there's not going to be gunfight, so no, there's not going to be like
Sidey: no dinosaurs
Pete: stakes and, and things will be bear when he goes down.
The, it goes down the hill. It's a, it's a little bit heavier. You know, this, this is fucking mad max fury road, compared to
Pete: and, and what it's got, it's got characters that, that you warm too. It's got, it's a real strong demonstration of how you don't like in a film where there, there aren't great big fucking scenes and powerhouse actors and stuff, or, or, you know, evidently, so sort of.
You can still have something that will take you along on its journey, make you feel something for the, for the characters, like or dislike and come to a, a conclusion of, you know, he literally went on a journey, but you enjoy a journey that whilst it's not a blockbuster not the sort of film that personally I would go back to and watch, you know, in the next year or so.
It's kind of like, it does make you feel a little bit warm and fuzzy inside and I did enjoy it. It's been a long time since I've seen a film like this, where there's not a great deal goes on, but you still enjoy it.
Sidey: Have you seen any of most of our white house gone fishing?
Sidey: Okay. So that is sort of similar in that it's older people sort of thinking about mortality and yeah.
And reminiscing about good times and thinking about all that sort of stuff, as they're coming into the, you know, Twilight years, I'm sure they've got quite a few, but they both had big health scares is why they did it. This is obviously older again. But similar sort of thing of contemplative and think it back and, you know, I wanted to put things right.
And it's. I wouldn't say romance romantic is not the right word, but it's that sort of you know, like fraternal
Dan: Yeah, there's a feel good about this film for sure. You know, it's with all the, the melancholy parts about it and the, and the slow pace of it, it just gently makes you enjoy the film and, and feel good about, you know, How it ends, because there is a, a positive kind of
Dan: leaves it open to interpretation But you, you assume that they're both going to live to about 200
and and party in Vegas again. No.
Pete: I'll give, I'll give him a week, but what I liked about it, I mean, I guess I didn't do, I did read that, that he'd taken his own life the year after, but was, was not long for the world anyway.
I don't know. I'm assuming that he did have a daughter with. You know, learning difficulties in real life. I don't know if that was because obviously that was put in. And I guess like in, in 2022, you have to be careful with, with costing for a role like that and how it's portrayed and so on, because it's obvious that she has like a, you know, intellectual difficulties.
But it was. Gimmick or uh it wasn't like a, you know, to make you feel sympathy for him or anything. It was just matter of fact, here we are. You find out sort of rather tragically that she herself has had four children, I think. And they've been taken away from her because of
Sidey: an accident. There was nothing to
Pete: an accident wasn't her fault.
But because of her learning difficulties, they've, somebody is judged somewhere that she's not fit to be. Which, when you see the scenes of her life looking out the window and software, it does tug on the heartstrings a bit. But yeah, it's a really like nice and a, a nice as a word that people like, say it almost has negative connotations.
It was only nice. Like that's, if you say what's that like, oh, it's nice. It's not automatic. This is a really nice film and definitely worth of watch. If you've not seen it, like you say, Dan, don't be put off by like David Lynch, normal sort of fat. I enjoyed it and I'm glad you nominated it cause I'd never, ever would have come across this.
I don't think,
Sidey: I love this. It's absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended the next one.
Do you want to know it now?
Sidey: Blue velvet will be the next one that we watch. Well, she may have seen before, but we're going to revisit it.
Pete: I've not seen it.