Length: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Anamorphic
Audio: DD 5.1
Nobody’s Fool is a character study. There is little here that resembles plot - it’s all about the characters... interesting characters, at that.
First, there’s Donald “Sully” Sullivan (Paul Newman), a gruff, but somehow likeable working stiff who has never made a good decision in his life. Sully, not a young man himself, rents a room from his elderly schoolteacher, Miss Beryl (Jessica Tandy). He works on-again, off-again as a sub-contractor for Carl Roebuck (Bruce Willis), a construction contractor with a thing for his secretary - to the dismay of his wife (Melanie Griffith).
The film opens with Sully in court, trying to win a judgement against Carl for a knee injury he got while on the job. Sully’s inept, one-legged lawyer is unable to produce documents that prove Sully’s injury was sustained while on the job (of course, the job was “off the books”), so the judgement goes to Roebuck.
Then, Sully’s estranged son Peter (Dylan Walsh) shows up in town with his wife and two sons, to spend the holiday’s with Sully’s ex-wife. Of course, they are in town only two days before we find out that Peter and his wife are having problems. Peter’s wife leaves town with their younger son, leaving behind unemployed Peter to care for the older son. Peter goes to work for Sully, setting the stage for them to get to know eachother again.
This is one of those films you don’t want to analyze... there is no plot. You’ll just want to sit back and watch these dysfunctional characters evolve.
Newman gives a genuinely affecting and funny performance, and he is backed by an outstanding cast - making this an unforgettable character piece.
The film is well directed by Robert Benton with a score by Howard Shore.
This is an anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer. The picture is bright and clear, and reasonably sharp. There are a few moments when there is some very mild edge enhancement visible, but this is only infrequently an issue, and a mild one at that. There is fine grain throughout, as transferred from the original film elements. Rare instances of dust are visible on the transfer. This is a very nice transfer for a 10 year old catalog title.
There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track present, but the rear channels are virtually silent throughout, except for some music which has been mixed back. There are virtually no sound effects present in the surrounds. LFE is similarly unutilized. All dialog is emanated from the center channel. The subtle score emanates from the entire front soundstage, with the subdued rear emanations mentioned. The 5.1 soundtrack is nothing to write home about, but I imagine it is a fairly accurate representation of the original elements.
This is a bare-bones catalog release from Paramount.
Nobody’s Fool is an enjoyable slice-of-life character study with some strong performances all around. There is real-life drama, and some genuinely humorous moments. The film is dedicated to Jessica Tandy. It was released shortly after her death.
If you like character studies, you can’t go wrong with this one.