Cannery Row (film)
The story is about the skid row citizens of Monterey, California, set on the row during World War II. As declining fish stocks are shutting down a previously rich fishery and the dependent canning industry, bums and hookers lead colorful and adventurous lives in a balmy seaside setting.
Doc (Nick Nolte), a self-employed marine biologist, lives in a dockside warehouse and researches octopuses. Suzy DeSoto (Debra Winger), a girl from the local bordello, is working there only out of necessity.
A collection of linked vignettes describe the locals and life on Cannery Row. It is depicted as an impoverished area inhabited by a motley band of people who have experienced failures but somehow have found their niche and a community of strangely kindred souls.
Doc and Suzy don’t quite fit in, but are accepted. Even when good intentions turn bad -- e.g., Mac and the boys gather frogs and sell them to give a surprise party for Doc, which turns into a brawl breaking Doc’s tank with his octopus collection. They later bought him a present of a microscope - however it was a telescope,
The deeper mystery and message revolves around why Doc stays in Cannery Row. Suzy discovers that Doc was once a professional baseball pitcher but quit. Another character, the Seer (Sunshine Parker), spends his days playing his horn. He depends on the gifts that mysteriously appear, such as groceries. Suzy eventually learns that the Seer is a former baseball player whom Doc injured with a pitch to the head. Doc takes care of him. And Doc and Suzy ultimately find love.
- Nick Nolte ... Doc
- Debra Winger ... Suzy
- Audra Lindley ... Fauna
- M. Emmet Walsh ... Mack
- Tom Mahoney ... Hughie
- John Malloy ... Jones
- James Keane ... Eddie
- Sunshine Parker ... The Seer
- Rosanna DeSoto ... Ellen Sedgewick
- Frank McRae ... Hazel
- Santos Morales ... Joseph and Mary
- John Huston ... Narrator
The screenplay for Cannery Row was originally based only on Steinbeck's novel of the same name. It was rejected in favor of Ward's script, which used elements also from Sweet Thursday.
Raquel Welch was originally cast to play Suzy, but was fired after five days' filming. It was alleged she was taking too long to get ready each day. Welch sued the studio, MGM, and obtained a multi-million dollar settlement in the mid-1980s. By then her film career was badly damaged. Because Turner Entertainment owned the film when the settlement was reached, Turner had to pay it.