Winning Ticket: A 'yes' vote for Man with a Plan | 20/20 Hindsight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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Winning Ticket: A 'yes' vote for Man with a Plan 

click to enlarge Fred Tuttle - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Fred Tuttle

Originally published January 31, 1996.

It’s hard to imagine a Player-style pitch for John O’Brien’s new film, Man With a Plan. A retired Vermont dairy farmer runs for Congress — and wins — thanks to a remarkably dexterous dog? How about Being There meets The Candidate meets “America’s Favorite Home Videos”?

This homespun docudrama operates on the same underdog appeal that carries its candidate-star — 76-year-old Fred Tuttle — to Washington, D.C. It mixes documentary and fiction, animal husbandry and art into an organic brew O’Brien describes as “community cinema.” A delightfully uplifting antidote to hellbent Hollywood, it will send you searching ... for your own “Spread Fred” bumper sticker.

Tuttle is no rocket scientist. In fact, he’s a pretty lousy candidate all around. But you want him to win, anyway. His candor is his charm. He openly admits his candidacy is motivated by money — he owes property tax on his dilapidated farm, and his 95-year-old father needs a hip operation. “Why Fred Tuttle?” narrator Bryan Pfei er quizzes him in a cornfi eld. “Why not?” quips the arthritic farmer in a thick Vermont brogue. In one of many clever shots using animals, a voice-over reads, “While Fred lacked experience and polish and savvy, leadership came naturally to him.” The visual shows Tuttle pursued by a flock of sheep.

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Paula Routly is the cofounder, publisher and coeditor of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen has been shooting photographs for Seven Days since 1995. Read all about his work here.


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