“I will not leave without my cat.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
I would agree — but meanwhile, this does remain a surprisingly affecting slice-of-life from the mid-1970s, showcasing numerous cities and roadscapes across the nation, and always authentically holding our attention. While Harry raises a ruckus near the beginning by refusing to leave his home:
… we quickly see evidence of his shift towards going with the flow, as he makes his way across various settings and pays attention to the state and wishes of others around him. He understands, for instance, that staying with his oldest son Burt (Bruns) isn’t a long-term solution:
… so he gets going from there sooner rather than later (it’s refreshing to see that their father-son relationship is rooted in authentic care). An early scene at an airport luggage checkpoint provides a quaint reminder of how such things used to go (Harry refuses to let Tonto’s bag be looked at):
… and we see further evidence of Harry’s concern for his cat on his next mode of transportation (which ultimately doesn’t work because Tonto needs to pee and bus schedules can’t wait).
Harry otherwise gets around by purchasing a used car (and picking up a couple of hitchhikers), then hitching rides himself until he’s finally on the west coast. Along the way, he befriends young Melanie Mayron:
… who is on her way to a commune in Boulder and ends up accompanied by Harry’s nephew Norman (Josh Mostel, Zero’s son). Harry very briefly visits his daughter (Burstyn) in Chicago, but their relationship clearly has some tensions given that she refers to him by his name (rather than Dad) and there is no consideration of him staying long.
Geraldine Fitzgerald has a nice little cameo as a former lover with dementia:
… and Oscar-nominated Chief Dan George is fine in a small bit as a fellow prisoner who bonds with Harry over his purchase of a blender, sold to them both by a traveling natural foods salesman (Arthur Hunnicutt).
Be forewarned that the ending may have you choked up a bit.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: