The Stars Fell On Henrietta

on September 15, 1995 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   Screened at Toronto. In Depression-era Texas, a married couple (Aidan Quinn and Frances Fisher) is struggling to hold on to the family farm. Enter Mr. Cox (Robert Duvall), a sixtysomething gent traveling with his cat, who suggests there's oil underneath their soil and all he needs is a stake to finance a drill. The couple is skeptical, but destitution is facing them.
   A would-be "The Grapes of Wrath," "The Stars Fell on Henrietta" fails to bring forth the needed gusher of atmosphere and grit. Duvall, whose stubbornly optimistic wildcatter is potentially interesting, doesn't have the desperation his character supposedly feels, a fault that can be laid to a weak script. Brian Dennehy, as one of Texas' oil success stories, is wasted in his role. Clint Eastwood, whose Malpaso Productions produced the film, would have held the reins better here, bringing his trademark (and much-needed) ambiguity and depth to the material.    Starring Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn and Frances Fisher. Directed by James Keach. Written by Philip Railsback. Produced by Clint Eastwood and David Valdes. A Warner Bros. release. Drama. Rated PG for some violence and language. Running time: 106 min.
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