IMDb > Tell Me a Riddle (1980)

Tell Me a Riddle (1980) More at IMDbPro »


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6.5/10   121 votes »
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Release Date:
12 March 1982 (Sweden) See more »
Touching story of elderly couple David and Eva who go on one last journey across the USA when they discover Eva is dying, ending up with their granddaughter Jeannie in San Francisco. | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Kedrova is magnificent! See more (2 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Melvyn Douglas ... David

Lila Kedrova ... Eva

Brooke Adams ... Jeannie
Dolores Dorn ... Vivi
Bob Elross ... Sammy
Jon Harris ... Mathew

Zalman King ... Paul
Winifred Mann ... Hannah
Peter Owens ... Phil
Deborah Sussel ... Nancy
Lili Valenty ... Mrs. Mays
Nora Heflin ... Young Eva

Peter Coyote ... Young David
Nora Bendich ... Lisa
Robert Behling ... Tim
Peter Berg ... Man On Street Corner
Joy Bianchi ... Ann
Ralph Chesse ... Jacob
Don Coughlin ... Doctor
Richard Dupell ... Tai Chi Dancer
Perry Herman ... Richard
Maria Acosta-Colon ... Singer in Park
Bruce Barthol ... Singer in Park
Eduardo Lobledo ... Singer in Park
Sharon Lockwood ... Singer in Park
Rob Revelli ... Morty
Shalom Sherman ... Accordionist

Directed by
Lee Grant 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Joyce Eliason 
Alev Lytle 
Tillie Olsen  story

Produced by
Mindy Affrime .... producer
Rachel Lyon .... producer
Susan O'Connell .... producer
Michael Rosenberg .... executive producer
Original Music by
Shalom Sherman 
Sheldon Shkolnik 
Cinematography by
Fred Murphy 
Film Editing by
Suzanne Pettit 
Production Design by
Patrizia von Brandenstein 
Set Decoration by
Steph Benseman 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Peter Schindler .... first assistant director
Sound Department
Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam .... sound editor
Richard Hymns .... sound editor
Pat Jackson .... sound supervisor
Barbara McBane .... dialogue editor
Camera and Electrical Department
Phil Bray .... still photographer
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Mary Elizabeth Still .... costume supervisor
Music Department
Kenneth Karman .... music editor
Other crew
Steph Benseman .... location manager

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Tillie Olsen's short story "Tell Me a Riddle" was awarded the O. Henry Award for best short story of 1961 after it was published in "New World Writing" Issue no. 16.See more »


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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
Kedrova is magnificent!, 8 October 2001
Author: aromatic-2 ( from New York, NY

Lila Kedrova is stupendous in as magnificent a performance as I have ever seen an elderly actress give on the screen. Douglas and Adams are also terrific as Kedrova's husband and estranged daughter respectively, but it is Kedrova who elevates this last-journey-before-I-die soaper far above its roots. The pacing is a tad slow, but the terrific photography, sensitive score, and magnificent performances more than make up for any shortcomings.

Warning, the first time I saw it, the male friend who was with me hated it, and wanted to walk out. When I recently re-watched it off cable, a male colleague called it "incredibly boring." Since I and every other woman I know who saw it loved it, I conclude that most men I know don't really get the subtleties of what was truly going on. Because Lila's relationships with her husband and daughter are reflected against the prism of her life, the director's artistic brilliance needs to be absorbed rather than spoon-fed. So my advice to other women is to see this one alone or with another woman. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly being nagged to put on something with some action in it.

That being said, this is a terrific and sensitive movie. Enjoy it.

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