Subject Was Roses, The (1968)


Ulu Grobard’s screen version of Frank Gilory’s Pulitzer Prize winning Vietnam play is an intense, well-acted family melodrama.
The young Martin Sheen plays Timmy Cleary, a soldier, eager to return home from combat and reunite by his loving parents, John and Nettie, (Neal and Albertson). Once considered sickly and weak, he has now distinguished himself in the military and is eager to begin a new, meaningful chapter in his life.
There are major setbacks, however. His parents are still trapped in their earlier unresolved marital conflicts and disagreements.  Thus begin a series of emotionally tense encounters.
The maturing Timmy begins to understands the family dynamics that has affected (and damaged) him throughout his boyhood.   Ironically, the simple act of bringing his mother roses on behalf of his father, Tim sets in motion a series of crises, which may or may not be resolvable.
Grosbard, a legendary stage director, gets excellent performances from his intimate ensmble, but he can’t really open up the literary source; it’s still a play.
Jack Albertson received the Supporting Actor Oscar for a role he had played successfully on Broadway, winning for it the Tony Award.
Oscar Nominations: 2
Actress: Patricia Neal
Supporting Actor: Jack Albertson
Oscar Awards: 1
Supporting Actor
Oscar Context
The winners (it was a tie) of the Best Actress Oscar were Barbra Streisand for “Funny Girl” and Katharine Hepburn for “The Lion in Winter.”