Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Steel Magnolias" 1989

Here is a movie I watch if I need a good cathartic cry. 

I can remember seeing an episode of Phil Donahue about this movie.  It had the whole cast on stage and talking about making the movie.  It seems like Sally Field is always playing someones mother in movies lately, but this was one of her best. 

I have never seen the stage play.  I have heard it is limited to one set, which is the beauty shop.  But I love the scope of the movie.  The opening scene showing Annelle walking through the town and seeing the preparations for Shelby's wedding set the tone well. 

I love the cast.

Truvy is played by Dolly Parton.   You believe her as someone that has hid under make up and hair all her life.  She loves her family but wonders about the rest of the world. 

Truvy: I kind of like hiring somebody with a past.
Clairee: She can't be more than eighteen. She hasn't had time to have a past.
Truvy: Oh get with it, Clairee. This is the eighties. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past.

Daryl Hannah is excellent as Annelle.  She has the most growth through the movie.  I love when she has to admit that she may be married to a dangerous criminal.

Annelle: Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.

Olympia Dukasis is amazing.  I want her to be my friend.  She is snarky and smart and not afraid to speak her mind.

Clairee: I've just been to the dedication of the new children's park.
Truvy: Yeah, how did that go?
Clairee: Janice Van Meter got hit with a baseball. It was fabulous.
Truvy: Was she hurt?
Clairee: I doubt it. She got hit in the head.

Shirley MacLaine, one of my favorites, is great as the cantankerous Ouiser. 

Ouiser Boudreaux: The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God.

Sally Field is M'Lynn, at her best as an over protective mother.  This is an actress that can show so much emotion on her face without saying a word. 

M'Lynn: Shelby, the boys bought the car around.
Shelby: What did they do to it?
M'Lynn: Well, let me put it this way... If you and Jackson want to practice safe sex, you're all set!

Julia Roberts does a good job with the role.  I read somewhere that Meg Ryan was initially offered the job, but I can't imagine.  I love her vulnerability.  She wants her mother's approval, but they are so close, they can't help but make digs at each other.

Shelby: I am going to be very, very careful, nobody is going to be hurt or disappointed or even inconvenienced.
M'Lynn: Least of all Jackson, I'm sure.
Shelby: You're jealous, because you no longer have a say so in what I do and that drives you up the wall. You're ready to spit nails because you can't call the shots.
M'Lynn: I did not raise my daughter to talk to me like this.
Shelby: Yes, you did.
M'Lynn: Oh no, I didn't.
Shelby: Whenever any of us asked you what you wanted for us when we grew up what did you say?
M'Lynn: Shelby, I'm not in the mood to play games.
Shelby: Just tell me what you said, Mama, what did you say?
M'Lynn: The only thing I have ever said to you, ever, is that I want you to be happy.
Shelby: Okay, the one thing that would make me happy is to have a baby. If I could adopt one I would, but I can't. I'm going to have a baby, and I wish you'd be happy too.
M'Lynn: I'll tell you what I wish. Well, I don't know what I wish.
Shelby: Mama, I don't know why you have to make everything so difficult. I look at having a baby as the opportunity of a lifetime. Sure there may be risk involved, but that's true for anybody. But you get through it and life goes on. And when it's all said and done there will be a little piece of immortality with Jackson's good looks and my sense of style, I hope. Please, please I need your support. I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

It has a lot happening.  The men in the cast are all great too.

But it is the end that gets me every time.  The scene at the graveside is incredible and jumps from serious to inane laughter authentically.

M'Lynn: [crying] I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine.
M'Lynn: I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I am so mad I don't know what to do! I wanna know why! I wanna know *why* Shelby's life is over! I wanna know how that baby will *ever* know how wonderful his mother was! Will he *ever* know what she went through for him! Oh *God* I wanna know *why*? *Why*? Lord, I wish I could understand!
[in a firm tone]
M'Lynn: No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way! I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I just wanna *hit* somebody 'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna hit something! I wanna hit it hard!
[continues sobbing]
Clairee: Here!
[grabs Ouiser by the shoulder and positions her in front of M'Lynn]
Clairee: Hit this! Go ahead M'Lynn, slap her!
Ouiser Boudreaux: [taken aback and confused] Are you crazy?
Clairee: Hit her!
Ouiser Boudreaux: Are you *high*, Clairee?
Truvy: [in a frightened tone] Clairee, have you lost your mind?
Clairee: We'll sell t-shirts sayin' "I SLAPPED OUISER BOUDREAUX!" Hit her!
Annelle: [in a scared tone] Ms. Clairee, enough!
Clairee: Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man! Knock her lights out, M'Lynn!
Ouiser Boudreaux: [snatches away] Let go o' me!
Clairee: M'Lynn, you just missed the chance of a lifetime! Half o' Chiquapin Parish'd give their eye teeth to take a whack at Ouiser!

Just writing about it makes me a little weepy. 

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