|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2012)|
|Directed by||Robert Ellis Miller|
|Produced by||Julius J. Epstein
|Written by||Peter De Vries (novel)
Julius J. Epstein
Herman Shumlin (play)
TAFT Entertainment Pictures
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||December 19, 1983 (USA)|
|Running time||101 min.|
The main character in DeVries's novel was based largely on the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who was a compulsive womanizer and lifelong alcoholic, finally succumbing to the effects of alcohol poisoning in November 1953, while on a speaking tour in America.
Gowan McGland (Conti) is a creatively blocked Scottish poet who ekes out a day-to-day existence by exploiting the generosity of strangers in an affluent Connecticut suburb, where he recites his verse to various arts groups and women's clubs. Gowan is something of a leech, cadging expensive dinners from well-off patrons (usually stealing the tips afterward) while seducing their bored wives and affecting a superior attitude toward the smug bourgeois types he exploits.
Although a talented poet, he is also a chronic drunk, indifferent to the wounds he can casually inflict with his wit. (When one of Gowan's middle-aged conquests undresses for him, he mutters, "Deprived of their support, her breasts dropped like hanged men," reducing her to tears.)
Gowan falls in love with a young college student, Geneva Spofford (McGillis), who has everything to lose from a relationship with a drunken deadbeat poet unable to hold a job. Gowan instigates two ugly incidents that eventually cause their breakup: first, a bar fight from which Geneva rescues him, and later, when he causes a scene in a fancy restaurant where the waiters know he's stolen their tips.
He also suffers an ironic comeuppance from a dentist he has cuckolded. The man offers Gowan free dental care as a ruse for ruining his smile and forcing him to wear dentures. (Gowan fears losing his teeth, equating it with death.)
Gowan prepares to hang himself, but while dictating his last thoughts into a tape recorder, he comes up with some good lines and regains his will to write. Unfortunately, his host's pet dog, an Old English Sheepdog named Reuben, comes bounding into the room, causing Gowan to lose his balance before he can undo the noose, turning the aborted suicide into accidental asphyxiation. The film's title comprises Gowan's final words, an unsuccessful attempt to halt the dog.
- Reuben, Reuben was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Conti) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.