98 – Paris, Texas

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Paris, Texas

1984

Directed by Wim Wenders

Quick synopsis… An amnesiac tries to find the family he lost.

  • Well… that synopsis was succinct.
  • As a part of The Criterion Collection, Paris, Texas can be found streaming on HBO Max if you have that service available to you.
  • A man wearing a suit and a red baseball cap (Harry Dean Stanton) seems to be wandering in the desert.
  • I mean, he doesn’t look like he just decided to step off the highway for a little stroll.
  • This is the middle of the dang desert.
  • But he manages to come across some kind of civilization.
  • He strolls into what appears to be a gas station/bar/general store…
  • Desperate for water, he grabs some ice out of the ice maker then passes out on the floor.
  • He wakes up as he’s being examined by a doctor, but he’s not answering any of the doctor’s questions.
  • The doctor finds a card with the name Walter Henderson and a phone number.
  • The number reaches Walter (Dean Stockwell) in Los Angeles, the brother of the mute guy in Texas, who he identifies as Travis.
  • When Walt arrives in Texas, he informs the doctor that he hasn’t seen Travis in four years.
  • When he asks to see his brother, the doctor tells him that he disappeared early this morning.
  • Then he turns over Walter’s personal belongings… for a price.
  • Nice to get blackmailed when your obviously mentally disturbed brother is wandering in the middle of nowhere.
  • Walt manages to track him down and convinces him to get into the car, but Travis still won’t speak.
  • Travis takes off again when he’s left alone, only for Walt to track him down once more.
  • It’s gotta be frustrating for Walt, trying to figure out how best to help his brother but getting no answers from him.
  • They stop and have dinner and Walt calls home and talks with his adopted son, Hunter.
  • Hunter is Travis’ biological son, who Walt and his wife, Anne, took in after both his parents disappeared.
  • Apparently, Travis’ wife, Jane, also disappeared at the same time four years ago.
  • Back on the road, Walt’s frustration finally surfaces and Travis says, “Paris.”
  • He asks Walt if he’s been to Paris, wanting to go there now.
  • Walt feels that Paris is a little out of the way, thinking he means Paris, France.
  • Walt tries to get Travis on a plane to L.A., but he panics and forces them to stop the plane before it takes off.
  • Then Travis insists that they rent the exact same car that Walt had before boarding the plane.
  • Once they get on the road again, Travis shows Walt a picture of a vacant lot in Paris, Texas.
  • He claims that vacant lot is his land that he bought through the mail some time ago.
  • When Walt asks why he bought the empty land, Travis can’t remember.
  • Travis offers to drive, telling Walt he can get some sleep in the meantime.
  • When Walt wakes up, they’re stopped in the middle of nowhere, way off the highway.
  • Getting back on course, Travis remembers that he bought the land because their parents met in Paris, Texas and he thinks that’s where he was conceived.
  • Arriving in Los Angeles, Travis is reintroduced to Anne and Hunter.
  • It’s pretty awkward.
  • Travis tries to reconnect with Hunter, but the kid isn’t really having it.
  • Can you blame him?
  • His parents vanished without a word four years ago.
  • Walt offers to show Travis some home movies he took when he and Anne visited Travis and Jane about five years earlier, hoping it will jog his memory.
  • Travis appears to have trouble watching the scenes showing his wife.
  • Afterward, Hunter talks with Anne about thinking Travis still loves Jane.
  • Over time, Hunter and Travis begin to bond.
  • Anne confesses to Walt that she’s afraid of losing Hunter.
  • Anne later reveals to Travis that Jane had been secretly calling to check on Hunter up until about a year ago.
  • Jane has also been wiring money into an account for Hunter from a bank in Houston on the 5th of every month.
  • After that, Travis decides he wants to leave to go find Jane.
  • Hunter decides he wants to go with Travis and they leave right away…
  • Without consulting Walt or Anne first…
  • Obviously, that goes over real well.
  • Hunter calls from the road and breaks the news about the road trip which doesn’t exactly calm their nerves.
  • The plan is to go to the bank where Jane will make her deposit in order to find her.
  • Travis and Hunter split up to stake out the bank, communicating via walkie-talkie while keeping an eye out for Jane.
  • They both fall asleep on the job but Hunter wakes up just in time to see Jane driving off in a red Chevette.
  • Travis comes back and picks him up and they chase after her on the highway.
  • They follow her to a peep show/strip club of some kind where Travis is able to see her via one-way mirror, so she can’t see that it’s him.
  • The next day, Travis leaves Hunter at a hotel and he goes back to the peep show booth to talk to Jane again.
  • Travis is able to talk to her over a phone.
  • He tells her a heartbreaking story which turns out to be the story of their relationship, culminating in what led to his missing four years.
  • Once she realizes it’s their story, she admits how badly she wants to be Hunter’s mother.
  • Travis tells her where to find Hunter.
  • He watches as mother and son reunite, then drives away.
  • Having now seen Paris, Texas, it currently ranks at 1,541 out of 2,239 movies on my personal Flickchart list.

I think this is a pretty good movie… but it’s so slow moving. It’s nearly two and a half hours long, but it feels like it’s more than three. It’s beautifully shot, but I really think they could shave down the runtime if they lost some of the random scenery.

Have you seen Paris, Texas? What did you think about it? Let me know down in the comments! Coming up next week is a movie I’ve never heard of, In the Mood for Love. I assume it’s about a scoreless tennis match. But we’ll have to wait and see.

What really kills me is that no one is gonna see that last joke, because… seriously… who made it all the way through those bullet points?

2 thoughts on “98 – Paris, Texas

  1. Pingback: What Are the Best Movies I’ve Never Seen? | The Confusing Middle

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