The Good Old Boys is Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut and showed off his softer side. Tommy Lee Jones began his career with a role in sappy 1970 romance Love Story and built a body of work that includes Rolling Thunder, The Executioner's Song, Eyes Of Laura Mars, and Black Moon Rising - with the latter two based on screenplays by John Carpenter (The Thing). His career took off in a big way following his performance in acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove in 1989, however.
A string of hits followed, including JFK, Under Siege and The Fugitive, which scored him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his steal-stealing turn. Jones has rarely been offscreen since and quickly followed up The Fugitive's success with Batman Forever and Natural Born Killers. He also made his directing debut in 1995 with The Good Old Boys, based on the acclaimed novel by Elmer Kelton.
The Good Old Boys revolves around Jones' character Hewey Calloway, who returns to his brother's farm after years away. Hewey is a little rough around the edges but is a good guy at heart. He also sparks up something of a sweet romance with Sissy Spacek's (Castle Rock) local teacher. Like The Wild Bunch, The Good Old Boys finds an aging cowboy confronting the end of the West, but unlike the latter movie, it's a decidedly blood-free affair and is instead a quiet little character study.
The Good Old Boys is a story about a man finding his place in a world that's quickly changing around him. It's got a hell of a cast too, and alongside Jones and Spacek it features the late Sam Shepard, Wilford Brimley, Frances McDormand, and Matt Damon. Apparently, the money Damon earned from his role on the movie was enough to keep him afloat while he wrote Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck.
Romantic probably isn't the first word viewers think of when it comes to Tommy Lee Jones' work, but The Good Old Boys is a wistful, sweet little movie that showed his more sensitive side. His next directorial effort was 2005's Three Burials, followed by the 2011 TV movie The Sunset Limited - which co-starred Samuel L. Jackson - and The Homesman. He seems to have an affinity for the Western genre in general, which also includes 2003's underrated The Missing, directed by Ron Howard. In terms of Tommy Lee Jones' direction, The Sunset Limited might just be his best work, but The Good Old Boys is definitely worth seeking out too.