The Curator of Schlock #280 by Jeff Shuster
Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring
Sally Field and David Carradine don’t mix.
Tired of Summer Blockbusters? I know I am. I’m tired of movies that value pyrotechnics over pathos, slapstick over wit, and Rodan over Rodin. Not on this blog!
I want movies that teach me a lesson, that get me asking the tough questions about life, death, and everything in-between. Back in the 1970s, we had filmmakers who challenged audiences and the status quo. They did it on a weekly basis on little network called ABC.
This July, the Museum of Schlock is showcasing the ABC Movie of the Week!
Tonight’s movie is 1971’s Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring from director Joseph Sargent. Sallie Field stars as Dennie Miller, the prodigal daughter of the Miller family, who left her life of suburban heaven to travel around with a disgusting pack of hippies led by a disgusting man named Flack, portrayed by David Carradine.
Dennie calls her parents, tells her how she’s doing fine. All she has to do is ask people for change and they give her nickels, dimes, and quarters. I guess that was worth more back then. Dennie also practices that free love that’s so popular with the young people these days. And she pops pills and smokes the wacky tobacco. And Dennie eats food out of garbage cans. And then Dennie runs away from Flack when he’s on the methedrine again.
Dennie makes her way back to her parent’s idyllic suburban house. Jackie Cooper plays Ed Miller, her dad, and Eleanor Parker plays Claire Miller, her mom. Oh, and Dennie has a younger sister named Susie as played by Lane Bradbury. Hmmmmm. Lane Bradbury was born in 1938. This would have made her 33 years-old at the time of Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring. And she’s playing a teenager in this movie. That’s weird.
Anyway, Dennie’s parents are thrilled to have her home. Her mom even makes them French toast. Her dad almost calls off from work, but there’s that important meeting he simply must attend. Her mother has errands to run, and her sister has to go to school. Dennie is left in the house to remember fond memories, like the time her parents decided to get separate beds to sleep in.
Meanwhile, Flak has flipped out after finding out Dennie went back home. He steals a pest control truck in broad daylight. One of the exterminators exclaims how he doesn’t understand the world anymore. The California Highway Patrol chases after him, but lose him. He parks the pest control truck in front of a diner, orders three big breakfasts, and refuses to pay his meals in a restaurant that has bugs, or such was his claim while pointing to the pest control truck out front. He then steals an ice cream truck, first giving out ice cream to the neighborhood kids before the ice cream man chases after him to no avail. Flack snacks on some ice cream bars as he speeds off to the Miller residence.
Uhhhh. What else? Ed cooks some steaks on the grill. Susie is on drugs. The Millers throw a party with disgusting looking hors d’oeuvres. There’s some loud charades. Susie shows up to the party high as a kite. The Millers don’t seem to notice. The next day, Flack shows up trying to coax Dennie to come with him to Canada. Dennie hesitates and Flack says all she cares about is swimming pools and vacuum cleaners. And what is so wrong with vacuum cleaners and swimming pools, Mr. Flack? During all the commotion, Susie sneaks out and runs away. Maybe she’ll be home in the spring? The last scene of the movie shows Dennie vacuuming. That’s brilliant. You’re either the vacuum or you’re the trash. Dennie chose to be the vacuum.