Raggedy Man

Nita Longley (Sissy Spacek), the young divorcee of Raggedy Man (l981), is a switchboard operator who lives in the office with her two young sons. Upwardly mobile, she practices typing, aspiring for a better job. She pleads with the company's manager for a job transfer, reminding him “this was supposed to be a stepping stone.” “There is War going on,” he keeps saying, which means she is “frozen.”

There is no separation between work and leisure; people awake her at all times of the day and night. For better or for worse, Nita is the communication center in town. But one day, Teddy Roebuck (Eric Roberts), a sensitive sailor, stops by, and a tender romance ensues. The kids immediately relate to him as their surrogate father. But the town's residents are of the malevolent and gossipy types. A gossipy customer stops by to pay his telephone bill; the next day, the whole town knows about Nita's affair. Worse yet, the Triplett brothers, who have put an eye on Nita, harass her two boys.

Like Something Wild, Raggedy Man is an incoherent text, mixing elements from other films without integrating them into a coherent story. Specifically, it borrows from To Kill a Mockingbird the strange character of Boo, here Bailey (Sam Shepard), Nita's ex-husband who is supposed to have joined the Army, but is actually in town watching over his family. The film also lifts from Halloween and Wait Until Dark the notion of a sexually harassed woman, helplessly trapped in her own home.

Attempting to reconstruct life in a small-town (Gregory, Texas) in the l940s, the films lacks a consistent point of view, combining nostalgia with cynicism. The misconceived ending is also unsatisfactory: Nita leaves town for San Antonio; on the bus her kids talk about Teddy (a hint that they may reunite).