Coming Home is very much Jane Fonda’s project. She commissioned Nancy Dowd to write a story about the impact of the Vietnam War on people at home in the States, which would be implicitly critical of US policy.
Fonda plays Sally Hyde, an Army wife married to Marine Corps action man Captain Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern). While he is serving his tour of duty in Vietnam, she takes a job in a veteran’s hospital where she meets her old high school classmate Luke Martin (Jon Voight) who is now an embittered Vietnam veteran paralysed from the waist down.
This condition does not prevent him from pleasuring her, however, and they embark on an affair that has a liberating effect on Sally. When her husband returns from Vietnam, traumatised by his experiences there, she has to choose between the two men.
Director Hal Ashby handles the love affair between Fonda and Voight with discretion, but the film slowly slithers into tearjerker territory while whole chunks of dialogue are lost in the din of a pounding rock soundtrack.
For a large part, the public gave this contemporary mixture of Since You Went Away and Brief Encounter a resounding thumbs down.
Captain Bob Hyde
Sergeant Dink Mobley
Nurse De Groot
Captain Earl DeLise