• The climactic death of Sometimes a Great Notion

Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), which screened Monday night at the Patio Theater, climaxes with an unexpectedly long death scene—one of the most excruciating I’ve ever watched. It comes as the result of an accident: an inexperienced lumberjack fells a tree incorrectly, and it lands directly on his father, shattering his arm; it also knocks down some other trees in its wake. One of these lands in a river where the character’s half-brother (Richard Jaeckel) is standing, pinning his legs to the waterbed. The young man drives his father to the hospital; his other half-brother (Paul Newman) stays to assist the trapped man. No one else is around to help—by this point in the film, the family has alienated everyone in the region with their headstrong behavior (stonewalling unions especially).