In Neil Simon's Max Dugan Returns, Marsha Mason is Nora McPhee, an impoverished school teacher and widow who is struggling to bring up her teenage son Michael. One day Max Dugan, the reprobate father who deserted her years ago, shows up with a suitcase full of money (over a half million dollars). With only six months to live, he wants to get to know his grandson and make life easier for his daughter.
Nora instinctively rebels against Max's attempt to buy her love and capture her son's respect with gifts like a Mercedes-Benz, video equipment and a diamond necklace. But her father, a wily philosopher and an astute student of human nature, conquers in the end. Jason Robards, a constant twinkle in his eyes, shines in the role. Donald Sutherland is featured as Nora's patient suitor, a cop who just happens to be a literary buff. For audiences feeling the pinch of hard times, Max Dugan Returns delivers some trickle-down emotional benefits. It's a fairy tale for the 1980s.