Coming Home

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Coming Home is a 1978 American drama film, directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jane Fonda, Jon Voight and Bruce Dern. The screenplay, written by Robert C. Jones, Waldo Salt, Nancy Dowd and Rudy Wurlitzer (uncredited), is based loosely on the novel of the same name by George Davis. The plot follows a love triangle between a young woman, her Marine husband and the paralyzed Vietnam War veteran she meets while he is overseas.



In the spring of 1968 in California, Sally, a loyal and conservative military wife is married to Bob Hyde, a Captain in the United States Marine Corps who is sent over to Vietnam. As a dedicated military officer, Bob sees it primarily as an opportunity for progress. At first Sally dreads being left alone, but after a while she feels liberated. Forced to find housing off the base she moves into a new apartment by the beach and gets a sport car. With nothing else to do, she decides to volunteer at a local veteran's hospital motivated by her bohemian friend Vi Munson, whose brother Billy has come home after just two weeks in Vietnam with grave emotional problem and now resides in the VA hospital.

At the hospital Sally meets Luke Martin, who went to high school with her. Like his friend Bill, Luke had gone to Vietnam but came back wounded. He is recuperating at the hospital from the injuries he sustained in the Vietnam War and that left him a paraplegic. Filled with pain, anger, and frustration Luke is now opposed to the war.

Luke at first is a bitter young man, but as he is increasingly thrown into contact with Sally, a relationship starts to develop. Eventually Luke is released from the hospital, and newly mobile with his own wheelchair, begins to rebuild his life. His relationship with Sally deepens. She is also transformed by him and her outlook on life starts to change. They have happy times, play at the beach and the two fall in love. Billy, traumatized by his experiences at war, commits suicide by injecting air into his veins. After Billy’s suicide, Luke has only one obsession: do anything to stop sending young men off to war.

Sally and Luke eventually make love, confronting his handicap. It is the first time Sally has been unfaithful. However she remains loyal to her husband, and both she and Luke know their relationship will have to end when her husband returns home. Bob does return, too soon, having accidentally wounded himself in a leg. He is also suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from what he has seen in combat. Bob discovers from Army Intelligence about Sally’s affair with Luke, both of whom agree that Sally should try to patch things up with Bob. Bob loses control, menacingly confronting the lovers, but ultimately turns away. In utter despair, Bob swims out into the ocean to die.


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