John Langer (John Hurt), a crusty old civic engineer, has an arsenal full of memories. With irreverent wit, he rattles on in his irascible humor burning his spicy stories into the imagination of a young neighbor kid, Danny Himes (Gregory Smith). Danny is a gifted, spirited athlete with something to prove. Worldly, old man Langer has turned his back on proving anything at all.
Old man Langer and Danny seem an unlikely pair. Their relationship turns from young caregiver/caretaker to student/mentor to comrades on a quest to free themselves individually and together from life's inequities and inevitabilities.
It's post WWII. Danny's father, Earl (David Strathairn), did not serve in the military and is considered a coward. Danny excels to overcome his father's reputation while Earl is actually more a man than the town knows.
"You don't smoke, you don't drink, and you don't screw. What kind of man are you anyway?" Langer asks Danny.
The more appropriate question is: "What kind of men were they?" That is the Story of The Climb.