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‘Daddy’s Dyin’ and Who’s Got the Will?’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 28, 1990


Jack Fisk
Beau Bridges;
Beverly D'Angelo;
Tess Harper;
Judge Reinhold;
Amy Wright;
Keith Carradine;
Bert Remsen
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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In "Daddy's Dyin' and Who's Got the Will?" Daddy indeed is dyin', and believe me, baby, he ain't the only one.

Directed by Jack Fisk from a screenplay by Del Shores (which he adapted from his own stage play), "Daddy's Dyin' " is a second-rate Beth Henley imitation about a flock of vultures who gather at the ole homestead in Texas for the imminent demise of the ailing family patriarch (Bert Remsen), who's suffered some kind of stroke, which makes him think he's watching midget wrestling when the TV set isn't even on. Or "Bonanza." And watching father stumble around, you think, lucky stiff, wish I had delusions.

To the film's credit, the cast includes some notable members -- Beverly D'Angelo, Amy Wright and Beau Bridges among them -- all of whom bust their guts to make the screenwriter's mangled Southernisms work. These folks are just so darned country: They pour big tumblers of iced tea, sweat through their baby-blue polyester, shush anybody who blasphemes the Lord. They also sling a mean dialect, peppered with colorful sayings that, frankly, don't make a lick of sense.

As the money-hungry Orville, who's nobody's friend and expects to be cut out of the will, Bridges keeps muttering that he's "peed in my chili."

Mama Wheelis (Molly McClure), who's stamped out of the Minnie Pearl mold (though not nearly as charismatic), comes up with some real puzzlers. Such as: Walking into the house to find Orville and his trashy sister Evalita (D'Angelo) turning the place upside down looking for the will, she screams, "What in the cat hair's going on around here?!" Or later, she describes someone as being "so ugly she could bite a hog through a picket fence."

I mean, what?

But I digress. Let me sum this thing up in three words: STAY A WAY!

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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