Steel Magnolias (1989)
March 24, 2019 1:56 PM - Subscribe

A tightly-knit group of women share their lives, loves and losses in Truvy Jones's Louisiana beauty parlour.

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The principal pleasure of the movie is in the ensemble work of the actresses, as they trade one-liners and zingers and stick together and dish the dirt. Steel Magnolias is willing to sacrifice its over-all impact for individual moments of humor, and while that leaves us without much to take home, you've got to hand it to them: The moments work. Roger Ebert

Steel Magnolias is not a movie about the emotional baggage or the need to inspire it, but about the knowledge that there are still those among us who are meant to be there when we need them in times of great tragedy or triumph. Sometimes, really, that’s all you need. Cinemaphile
...Steel Magnolias runs on gags, pitched to the cheapest seats, and maudlin emotion, pitched to the cheapest sentiments. The script itself, which playwright Robert Harling adapted from his off-Broadway original, is on a degenerated line from Tennessee Williams by way of Hallmark cards. The Washington Post

Steel Magnolias is pop entertainment of an especially condescending, superficial sort. The New York Times
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Still remains one of my most favorite movies.
posted by sundrop at 6:50 PM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

This movie bumped "The Wizard of Oz" as my favorite movie.
It's basically from Annelle's point of view over the most critical three years of her life. What I'd love to see is a part two, twenty years later, to find out what happens to Jackson, Jr. and her child.
posted by TrishaU at 7:01 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I watched this recently with my husband, who had never seen it. I started crying almost immediately and kept it up pretty much throughout. He told me the next evening, “I’ve been thinking about that movie all day.” Because it’s so GOOD. That scene in the graveyard - Sally Field’s performance is one of the all time greats. It’s really a perfect movie.
posted by something something at 8:46 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I do love the movie, but having seen countless versions of the stage play in various community theater productions, the fact that the movie expands out from the beauty parlor (as is necessary to give it the scope of a movie) lessens the impact for me. A lot of the conversations the women have can seem a little bit more trite when they're having Big Moments On Set, whereas in their chairs getting their hair and nails done, the quippy conversations and jokes and such make a lot more sense, and gathering all the information about just how dire everything gets makes these moments more poignant for me.
posted by xingcat at 7:57 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

"Because I'm an old Southern woman, and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt."
posted by Melismata at 8:06 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, and

"I have to get rid of about a zillion birds before Shelby's reception this afternoon, or I will have to deal with my wife, and I make it a point never to deal with my wife."


"I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence."

I could quote this movie all day.
posted by Melismata at 8:13 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I always get this and Fried Green Tomatoes mixed up.
posted by rhizome at 5:28 PM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

This scene makes the movie for me:
"M'Lynn: [crying] I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. [screaming] I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I'm 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] 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] Hit this! Go ahead M'Lynn, slap her!
Ouiser: Are you crazy?!
Clairee: Hit her!
Ouiser: Are you high, Clairee?!
Truvy: Clairee, have you lost your mind?
Clairee: We'll sell t-shirts sayin' I SLAPPED OUISER BOUDREAUX! Hit her!
Annelle: Miss Clairee, enough!
Clairee: Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man! Knock her lights out, M'Lynn!
Ouiser: [gets out of Clairee's grip] 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! [everyone, except Ouiser, starts laughing]
Ouiser: YOU ARE A PIG FROM HELL!! [Ouiser turns and walks away]"
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 PM on March 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

I love this movie. I've probably seen it 200 times. I remember, as a kid, it was on HBO, like, daily. And then TBS or TNT or Lifetime ran it at least weekly.

I will never not laugh HARD at Sally Fields' deadpan delivery of, "I guess we can't hide it any longer. Shelby has been driving NAILS up her ARMS."

I intend to grow up to be Miss Ouiser. Just with less money.
posted by Aquifer at 7:23 AM on March 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

First of all, i love that the link for "30 years of steel magnolias" goes to

My sister and i saw this one weekday afternoon around christmas in a nearly deserted theatre. We were young, 18 and 22. Easily the youngest people in the couple dozen folks, all women, in the theatre.

Like Jenfullmoon, the cemetary scene nearly did us in, first in tears and then howling laughing. Not only because of the acting, but because we know these people like this. Smart ass, strong women from a small town with personalities as big as Dallas - both of my grandmothers fit this mold. Love this movie.
posted by domino at 10:24 AM on March 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

First of all, i love that the link for "30 years of steel magnolias" goes to

I just learned from that article that the role of Truvy was created for Margo Martindale. I can't imagine the movie without Dolly Parton, but it's fun to think about how different that film would be with a young Margo playing that role.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:34 AM on March 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

My high school used to put on two performances every year: one musical, and one play. But for reasons I've since forgotten, toward the end of my senior year, our drama director decided to put a third show, Steel Magnolias. I'd been in drama club all through high school, but had only ever managed to snag ensemble parts in the musicals, which had much larger casts than the plays. And that was the case with this show, too—until a friend of mine had to drop out early on. Our director cast me in her place and rearranged the parts, and although I desperately wanted to play Clairee (how can you not love Olympia Dukakis?), I was cast as Ouiser. Those weeks of rehearsals, and the performance we put on at the end of them, were some of the most fun of my life. It was amazing to watch some of my best friends inhabit those roles, and to grow into my own. Ouiser is just so delightfully weird, yet full of heart beneath that spiky demeanor—I loved finding odd little things to do in the background when she wasn't the focus of the scene. And the strength of the woman in the story blew me away.

And it still does, every time I watch the movie. I don't have a recording of our performance, but I still have my annotated script, and I love that I can relive those weeks spent working so closely with strong women from my own life (somewhat bittersweet, as we have mostly lost touch) any time I pop in the DVD. And while I agree that the story loses something by expanding the setting, the addition of Tom Skerritt's character balances it out for me. The interactions between Ouiser and Drum get me every time.

Really, though, it all comes down to the women—both in the movie and in my own life. Their strength, courage, and camaraderie; the way they bear the loss. "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion" indeed.
posted by cellar door at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

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