Based on the play by Robert Anderson, I Never Sang for My Father is devoted to the prickly relationship between aged Tom Garrison (Melvyn Douglas) and his grown son Gene (Gene Hackman). A college professor who feels that he has never been fully accepted by his self-made dad, Gene announces that he is going to move from New York to marry a California divorcee. His mother (Dorothy Stickney) approves of the union but worries that her son's move will have a negative effect on the increasingly truculent Tom. When his mother dies just before the wedding, Gene is forced to help his father through his dark days. His sister (Estelle Parsons) urges her brother to break the ties for good and all--or else he'll wind up as bitter and withdrawn as their father. Gene realizes the wisdom of these words when he tries to reach out to his father during a vulnerable moment, only to have the crabby Tom tell him to get lost and leave him alone.
by Hal Erickson synopsis