Taglines: You don’t have to be crazy to live here…but it helps.
The story is about the skid row citizens of Monterey, California, set 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 describes 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. 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. To make amends, they buy Doc a present of a microscope, but mistakenly get him a telescope instead.
A deeper mystery 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, and now Doc takes care of him. Doc and Suzy ultimately find love.
Cannery Row is a 1982 American comedy-drama film directed by David S. Ward. It stars Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. The movie is adapted from John Steinbeck’s novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.
Cannery Row (1982)
Directed by: David S. Ward
Starring: Nick Nolte, Debra Winger, Audra Lindley, Frank McRae, M. Emmet Walsh, Tom Mahoney, Sunshine Parker, Kathleen Doyle
Screenplay by: David S. Ward, William Graham
Production Design by: Richard Macdonald
Cinematography by: Sven Nykvist
Film Editing by: David Bretherton
Costume Design by: Ruth Myers
Set Decoration by: Mary Swanson
Art Direction by: William F. O’Brien
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: February 12, 1982