Ithaca is a 2015 American drama film directed by Meg Ryan and written by Erik Jendresen. It is based on the 1943 novel The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. The film stars Alex Neustaedter, Jack Quaid, Meg Ryan, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater and Tom Hanks. The film was released on September 9, 2016, by Momentum Pictures.
|Directed by||Meg Ryan|
|Written by||Erik Jendresen|
|Based on||The Human Comedy|
by William Saroyan
|Produced by||Janet Brenner|
|Edited by||John F. Lyons|
|Music by||John Mellencamp|
Apple Lane Productions
|Distributed by||Momentum Pictures|
In 1942, Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) is a boy determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger of the small fictional town of Ithaca, CA. His older brother, Marcus (Jack Quaid), along with most of the young men of the town, has gone to serve in World War II, leaving the families worried. His father (Tom Hanks) has died recently in the war and the boy has to take care of his widowed mother (Meg Ryan), his older sister and his 4-year-old brother. Homer delivers letters that bring messages of love, wishes, pain, and death, hoping that one of them announces the return of his brother.
- Alex Neustaedter as Homer Macauley
- Meg Ryan as Kate Macauley
- Jack Quaid as Marcus Macauley
- Sam Shepard as Willie Grogan
- Hamish Linklater as Tom Spangler
- Tom Hanks as Matthew Macauley
- Christine Nelson as Bess Macauley
- Spencer Howell as Ulysses Macauley
- Zachary Webber as Horse
- Nick Williams as Texas
- Lois Robbins as Mrs. Beaufrere
- Robin Skye as Mrs. Brockington
- Scott Shepherd as Corbett
- Jacob Rodriguez as Shag
- Gabriel Basso as Tobey George
- Molly Gordon as Mary Arena
On January 29, 2014, it was announced Meg Ryan would direct Ithaca, a film based on the 1943 novel The Human Comedy by William Saroyan, with Ryan, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan's son Jack Quaid starring in the film. On June 25, 2014, Tom Hanks joined the cast. Principal photography began on July 21, 2014, and ended on August 22, 2014. It was filmed in Petersburg, Virginia, and also some opening scenes of the film were shot on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
In a May 6, 2016 Q&A after a screening of the movie at Geena Davis' Bentonville Film Festival, Ryan said: "The music is so beautiful. John Mellencamp wrote every note – everything – the tiny little needle drops you hear in the back. He wrote about half of it after I read him the script, and then the next half after he saw the movie. He's just incredible."
In addition to the score, Mellencamp wrote two original songs for Ithaca: "Sugar Hill Mountain" (sung by Carlene Carter) and "Seeing You Around" (sung by Leon Redbone). "Sugar Hill Mountain" is a fiddle-driven folk song that describes an idyllic location where there's "bubble gum and cigarette trees," no clocks, every day is spring, and anything you need is "gratis." Meanwhile, the piano-heavy "Seeing You Around" has the sound of a 1940s standard (the time period the movie takes place in) and is made all the more authentically '40s-sounding by Redbone's gruff, baritone vocals. Mellencamp's band provided the backing on both tracks and performed all the music that is in the movie.
Said Carter in 2015: "The way John Mellencamp and I met was he invited me to come and sing this song he had written for the movie that Meg Ryan has coming out called Ithaca. That was when we became friends, when I went to Indiana and recorded with him and the guys this really cool song called 'Sugar Hill Mountain' that's in the movie. And the movie is wonderful. We got to see a rough cut of it and I was very impressed."
The track "Sugar Hill Mountain" (sung by Carlene Carter) was later included in John Mellencamp's album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies released in 2017 and which features 6 tracks with Carlene Carter: this one, one she wrote, one she co-wrote with Mellencamp, one that is a reworking of a track from the 2013 John Mellencamp & Stephen King project Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (which had featured Carter's stepsister Rosanne Cash), one that is a Mellencamp version of a Woody Guthrie lyric, and one where she does backing vocals on a song which was originally for his 1996 album Mr. Happy Go Lucky.
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- "Carlene Carter Interview". Songfacts. April 2015.
- "Ithaca (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-05-07.