Friday, February 25, 2011

Ellen Burstyn & Sam Shepard in Resurrection (1980)

Obscurity factor: 8

Based on actual events, this film tells the story of Edna (Burstyn), who after an automobile accident that kills her husband and almost kills her, finds she has the ability to heal people with a "laying on of the hands." She develops a relationship with Cal (Shepard) who has trouble coping with Edna's gift and begins to believe that she is the second coming of Christ.

This film was well received at the time of its release. It was nominated for two Oscars. One for Ellen Burstyn and another for Eva La Gallienne, who played Grandma Pearl. It's since been largely forgotten.

This title is recently available on print on demand DVD - part of Universal's vault series. It's also available on Hulu in full and can be watched above.The poster above is available at

Obscurity factor: 8


  1. This is Burstyn's greatest, freest performance, and the film is a very enjoyable fable. Why it is not considered a classic escapes me. I remember Pauline Kael writing: "Eva Le Gallienne plays her role with the simplicity of someone who has spent her whole life on the stage," which is just too accurate and too funny: Grandma Pearl is unbearable. And Burstyn did become Le Gallienne-like in her later years. Her synthetic presence in the trailers for horrid post-menopausal ensemble comedies sets my teeth on edge. But here, she is calm, strong, and impressive.

    Now, you want obscure? I remember a ghastly misfire called Dream of Passion: a semaphoric Greek stage actress (Mercouri, who else?) is rehearsing Medea in some ancient amphitheater. She goes to the local jail to get inspiration from a frumpy American prisoner (la Burstyn, vaselined) who has recently murdered her children. The idea is great, but once past the outrageous situation, NOTHING happens.

    1. 'Grandma Pearl is unbearable'...?! How on Earth do you come to that? Deeply moving performances here. This indeed is a classic 'forgotten' film.

  2. You always have something interesting to add, Oliver. Thanks. I'll have a look at Dream of Passion...