Back Roads (film)

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Back Roads
Back Roads (1981 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartin Ritt
Produced byRonald Shedlo
Written byGary Devore
StarringSally Field
Tommy Lee Jones
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyJohn A. Alonzo
Edited bySidney Levin
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 13, 1981 (1981-03-13)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$11.8 million[1]

Back Roads is a 1981 American romantic comedy film starring Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. It is directed by Martin Ritt. It got middling reviews and grossed $11 million at the box office. This was the first film produced by CBS Theatrical Films (a short lived film production branch of CBS). The movie was distributed by Warner Bros.


Amy Post is a $20-a-trick hooker in Mobile, Alabama. One night she entertains Elmore Pratt, an ex-boxer who has just been fired from his job at a car wash. He cannot pay her for services rendered.

Pratt punches a plainclothes police officer. He and the prostitute drive away together, intending to head for California, bickering along the way.


Field and Jones disliked one another intensely during filming.[2] Ritt said that he regretted not being able to make this film work, blaming its failure on both the script and the stars' inability to get along. In her January 29, 2013 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Field said that she and Jones reconciled many years later when he approached her at an event and apologized for being so difficult back then. They went on to co-star in the 2012 film, Lincoln, for which they both received Academy Award nominations for their supporting roles.


In his March 13, 1981 New York Times review, critic Vincent Canby wrote that there "seems to be a real rapport" between the two actors. Canby described the film as "extremely appealing and occasionally gutsy and very funny."[3] Other reviewers were less kind. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times considered the movie formulaic and "heavily laden with schtick", giving the film two stars on a scale of four, although he did comment that Field "gives a performance that cannot be faulted."[4] He considered Back Roads a "less-than-successful" effort by director Ritt.[5]



  1. ^ "Back Roads (1981)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  2. ^ Breznican, Anthony (7 December 2012). "Who's afraid of Tommy Lee Jones?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (13 March 1981). "MOVIE REVIEW: Back Roads (1981): Sally Field Stars in Ritt's 'Back Roads'". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (1 January 1981). "Back Roads Movie Review".
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (17 January 1986). "Murphy's Romance Movie Review".

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