The Subject Was Roses (1968)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer-winning "kitchen sink" theatrical piece The Subject Was Roses was given a no-frills film transference in 1968. Martin Sheen and Jack Albertson re-create their stage roles as a returning serviceman and his alcoholic father. Patricia Neal takes over from the play's Irene Dailey as Nettie Cleary, Timmy's (Sheen) overly protective mother, long at odds with husband John (Albertson) over his drinking. Mother and Father try to put on a facade of happiness for the benefit of their son, but soon the three of them are squabbling again, just as if the boy had never been away. With the exception of adding a few extraneous characters, the film version of The Subject Was Roses is essentially the same as its 1964 Broadway counterpart. The film helped establish the career of Martin Sheen, launched a whole new dramatic career for Jack Albertson, and represented a triumphant comeback for Patricia Neal, who'd recently recovered from a debilitating stroke.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros.


Patricia Neal
as Nettie Cleary
Martin Sheen
as Timmy Cleary
Jack Albertson
as John Cleary
Elaine Williams
as The Woman in Club
Don Saxon
as Nightclub Master of Ceremonies
Grant Gordon
as Man in Restaurant

Critic Reviews for The Subject Was Roses

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Ulu Grosabrd's theatrical film, based on Pulitzer Prize winning play, is an intense family melodrama, well acted by Patricia Neal and Jack Albertson as the feuding parents and Martin Sheen as their Viet vet son.

Full Review… | August 10, 2010

The "kitchen sink" drama was largely effective because of the superb acting and dialogue.

Full Review… | February 4, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Fine drama featuring Patricia Neal and Jack Albertson, based on stage play.

July 27, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

Quote not available.

July 16, 2005

Quote not available.

December 31, 2004
Greenwich Village Gazette

Quote not available.

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

Audience Reviews for The Subject Was Roses

Martin Sheen's big screen breakthrough was an often performed stage production. Here it is passable with some good acting but nothing more.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


wow; can you say great acting and huge family dysfunction in the same sentence? It's torturous really, sad, but all the acting was great.

Nancy Le
Nancy Le

Neal made a remarkable comeback after suffering from strokes and partial paralysis by starring in this screen adaptation of the hit stage play of the same name. Neal had extraordinary difficulty memorizing dialog and her touching performance was well honored with an Oscar nomination. It's not just acting you see on screen, it's the force of will.

Manny Casillas
Manny Casillas

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