Return of the Secaucus 7 is a 1980 drama film written and directed by John Sayles and starring Bruce MacDonald, Maggie Renzi, Adam LeFevre, Maggie Cousineau, Gordon Clapp, Jean Passanante, and others. The film tells the story of seven friends who spend a weekend together in New Hampshire. The weekend is marred by the break-up of a relationship between two of the friends. This causes a ripple effect among the group and brings up old desires and problems.
The picture was thought to have inspired The Big Chill (1983), which is a more widely known film with a similar storyline. However, writer/director Lawrence Kasdan has denied having seen Return of the Secaucus 7 before working on The Big Chill.
Bruce MacDonald as Mike Donnelly
Maggie Renzi as Katie Sipriano
Adam LeFevre as J.T.
Maggie Cousineau as Frances Carlson
Gordon Clapp as Chip Hollister
Jean Passanante as Irene Rosenblum
Karen Trott as Maura Tolliver
Mark Arnott as Jeff Andrews
David Strathairn as Ron Desjardins
John Sayles as Howie
Marisa Smith as Carol
Amy Schewel as Lacey Summers
Carolyn Brooks as Meg
Eric Forsythe as Captain
Nancy Mette as Lee
Film critic Emanuel Levy liked the film and wrote, "The movie became influential, launching a cycle of "reunion" films, which included The Big Chill and the TV series Thirtysomething. As a portrait of disenchantment, Return was more authentic and honest than Lawrence Kasdan's star-studded Big Chill...A rueful movie about unexceptional lives that have prematurely grown stale, Secaucus is a bit commonplace, lacking genuine drama. But Sayles uses effectively a discursive, episodic format; he constructs strong scenes with resonant dialogue. The characters are complex and individually distinguished by speech, gesture, and manner."
Critic Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote, "Here's a nice little movie about the baby boom generation...Novelist John Sayles wrote, directed, and edited this movie. It is a labor of love. We watch these laidback individuals share their stories and reminisce about the past...But these baby boomers can't handle tension; the rift between Jeff and Maura sends tremors through the weekend. And although they put up a front of having a good time, one senses that things haven't turned out well for them — either in terms of meaningful relationships or in terms of personal fulfillment. Return of the Secaucus Seven leaves one with a rueful feeling about this generation."
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on eleven reviews.
Film critic Aljean Harmetz of The New York Times wrote in her review: "For a movie that cost $60,000, The Return of the Secaucus Seven is traveling in heady company. Most $60,000 movies play at two film festivals, then end up on a 16-millimeter projector in their director's living room. The Return of the Secaucus Seven, about seven antiwar activists who spend a weekend together 10 years later, was the surprise hit of last spring's Los Angeles Filmex festival. The movie was also selected as one of the 10 best films of 1980 by The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times and Time magazine, and last week it was nominated by the Writers Guild as best comedy written directly for the screen. When it opened an unsuccessful commercial run in New York last September, Vincent Canby, although expressing some reservations, praised the film as sweet and engaging and an honest, fully realized movie. Today it will try again, opening at the Quad in Greenwich Village this time.
Return of the Secaucus 7 was released in United States theatres on September 5, 1980. The film was released on DVD by MGM Home Entertainment on September 16, 2003.
WinsLos Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: LAFCA Award; Best Screenplay, John Sayles; 1980.
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards: BSFC Award; Best Independent Film; 1981.
NominationsWriters Guild of America, East: WGA Award (Screen); Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, John Sayles; 1981.
Other distinctionsIn 1997, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".