Coming Home (1978)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Hal Ashby's 1978 melodrama examines the impact of the Vietnam War on the "war at home" among the men who fought it and the women in their lives. Left alone in Los Angeles when her gung-ho Marine husband Bob (Bruce Dern) heads to Vietnam in 1968, proper wife Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) decides to volunteer at the V.A. hospital where her new friend Vi (Penelope Milford) works. There she meets Luke Martin (Jon Voight), a former high-school classmate and Marine who has returned from 'Nam a bitter … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Nancy Dowd, Waldo Salt, Robert C. Jones, Robert Jones
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 16, 2002
MGM Home Entertainment



as Sally Hyde

as Luke Martin

as Capt. Bob Hyde

as Viola Munson

as Sgt. Dink Mobley

as Bill Munson

as Fleta Wilson

as Marine at Party

as Nurse De Groot

as Captain Carl Delise

as Marine Recruiter

as Connie

as Corrine

as Dr. Lincoln

as Nurse De Groot

as Highschool Class Pre...

as Kathy Delise

as Marine at Party

as Marine at Party

as Martha Vickery

as Porsche Policeman

as Johnson

as Harris

as Mrs. Harris
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Coming Home

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

The film has less to do with politics, women's or otherwise, than with a very conventional notion of the redemptive power of mother love. Which would be all right if director Hal Ashby had managed to mount it effectively.

Full Review… | October 31, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Coming Home is in general an excellent Hal Ashby film which illuminates the conflicting attitudes on the Vietnam debacle from the standpoint of three participants.

Full Review… | October 31, 2007
Top Critic

Cliché piles on cliché to the strains of a garbled '60s soundtrack, but the movie's ending goes some way to recognising its failure. Fonda is magnificent.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Slowly, disastrously, it reveals its true identity as a three-sided love story about two Vietnam veterans and the one woman who loves them both.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

This movie is a big deal.

March 17, 2008

Audience Reviews for Coming Home

This wasn't the first film to deal with the issue of soldiers coming home after war, and trying to transition back into a "normal" life, but it was one of the earliest to deal specifically with the subject in regards to Vietnam, as well as the first film to tackle the issue of sex and disabilities.

Despite the good subject matter and plot, since Hal Ashby is at the helm, you just know that it is primarily going to be a character driven piece that mostly leans to the left, though the movie isn't completely one sided. The main plot focuses on a woman named Sally whose Marine Captain husband gets shipped off to Vietnam. Feeling lonely and bored, she decides to volunteer at a VA hospital, and while there she develops a strong relationship with a former classmate who got wounded in the war, and is now a bitter, angry, and disillusioned paraplegic trying to get his life back together. When Sally's husband returns home, also wounded, the impact of the war, and the love triangle comes to a boil. and the full effect of everything comes to a head.

So yeah, this isn't the most original movie, but it is a well made and thoughtful melodrama anchored by some strong performances and Ashby's knack for good character pieces. It really didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, and it is a bit slow at times, but I still think it is a worthwhile film. Maybe I'd be more impressed had I seen it earlier, or before I saw The Deer Hunter and Born on the Fourth of July, which tackle the same issues in far better ways.

The soundtrack is pretty good, with lots of tunes from the Rolling Stones, as well as other great, albeit typical songs from the time period. Some of the transitions and editing with the music were rather abrupt and jarring, but not enough to make me lessen my rating too much.

All in all, a good, if overrated take on the various damages that war can have on people from all walks of life.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


It's hard to divorce this film from its context, namely some considered Fonda's anti-war activism to be ... "un-calculated" would be a nice word ... if it were a word. Out of that context comes this thesis-driven film that puts the anti-war message in the mouths of the soldiers who know the war best. But Fonda's character remains fairly apolitical; she is not given any rousing speeches about giving peace a chance, and her character is not reduced to the depths that Dern's is.
And for that reason, among others, the film wreaks of misogyny. Sally (Fonda) is confined to the role of the helper. Beyond the anti-war message, which glares through every frame, this is a classic story of a man saved by the love of a good woman - a good woman who, by the end of the film, is all-too-willing to provide the same service for her estranged, openly misogynistic husband. Female sexuality is portrayed in an equally reductive fashion. Throughout Sally's first orgasm, the most prominent sight is her wedding ring, constantly reminding us that whatever pleasure she feels is a violation of sexual mores. Though I don't blame the film for its anti-war thesis, it is open season on its reductive view of women.
What is more, the film "feels" unbalanced to me. The heavy moments are too heavy, the light moments are too light, and the connective tissue between them is almost non-existent.
So, why 2.5 stars? Because Dern's and Voight's performances are astounding. Dern scores a ten the Christopher Walken Creepometer, and Voight's ending monologue made my eyes leak. It is unfortunate that such work wasn't in service of a better script.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


I have to say that the reason that I like this movie is the filmmaking is so right on in every aspect. The cinematography, editing, and acting are all top notch and it carried me through the script which, at times, I thought was mind-boggling bad. Jon Voight and Jane Fonda give their best performances (that I have seen) and make every scene believable with realistic performances which I attribute to the direction of Hal Ashby. There is also the incredible Bruce Dern who gives an outstanding performance as Bob Hyde. The reason the movie irks me is the anti-war stance which works on some levels (the ending of this film is genius) and then totally distracts on other levels (the scene between Dern, Fonda, and Voight at the house with the gun is ridiculous and the whole FBI sub-plot is just plain dumb). I will give Ashby this, that he provides a world that you never know what is going to happen next which is rare. I enjoyed the film for the filmmaking experience, but otherwise, thought it was the love story is a little thin considering that she chose the hottest guy in a wheelchair.

Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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