Return of the Secaucus 7, which I'm sure I will spell inconsistently any time I reference it, is Sayles's first feature as auteur.
Released in 1980, it's often cited as similar to the later-released Big Chill, but while both feature baby boomer reunions I don't know how similar they are. The Sayles/Kasdan link between City of Hope and Grand Canyon helps fuel this, but again, I don't know how much is there.
Among the notable actors here: future Oscar nominee David Strathairn; Sayles himself; Maggie Renzi (a regular in Sayles early films); Gordon Clapp (NYPD Blue); and Adam LeFevre.
I came to this movie late--already a fan of Sayles, watching it with Sayles present when he attended a week of screenings of his various movies at the Northwest Film Center in Portland. When he couldn't remember the name of Grand Canyon, I provided it. When an idiot asked him about the ending to the movie Limbo, I groaned. My touch with greatness (cough). Anyway, the movie itself, is charming but not monumental. It captures a mood, a sentimentality without being overly sweet.
Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 79% fresh, and it received awards from the LA Film Critics and the Boston Film Critics.