The Bostonians (1984)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  17 August 1984 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 1,424 users   Metascore: 59/100
Reviews: 13 user | 12 critic | 10 from

A Boston feminist and a conservative Southern lawyer contend for the heart and mind of a beautiful and bright girl unsure of her future.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Madeleine Potter ...
Mrs. Burrage
Dr. Tarrant
Barbara Bryne ...
Dr. Prance
Charles McCaughan ...
Music Hall Policeman
Nancy New ...
Henry Burrage (as John Van Ness Philip)
Mr. Pardon
Peter Bogyo ...
Mr. Gracie
Martha Farrar ...
Mrs, Farrinder
Dusty Maxwell ...
Newton Tarrant


19th-century Boston woman dedicated to the suffrage movement, meets a faith healer's daughter, a Mississippi lawyer also has eyes for the young woman. Written by Joyce Kavitsky <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A BEAUTIFUL FILM . . . An intimate and exquisite probe of the feminist heart. [Australia Theatrical]


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

17 August 1984 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A bostoniak  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture was Christopher Reeve's second costume picture in just a few years, after making a notable impression in Somewhere in Time (1980). See more »


After a title card has advised us we are in New York City in l876, Olive Chancellor writes a check for Mr. Tarrant, dated Septmber 13, 1875. See more »


Miss Birdseye: [on Basil] Your cousin looks like a genius, my dear.
Olive Chancellor: It's only a distant cousin. He's a lawyer from Mississippi, he left his mother and his sisters behind and he's come to try to make his living in New York. He's not in sympathy, I'm afraid.
Miss Birdseye: Well, I've often found that people are only waiting for the light.
See more »


Featured in The Wandering Company (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

8 September 2011 | by (Juneau, Alaska) – See all my reviews

The other reviews really don't get that this is a very subtle expose on gay relationships in this era. Was Henry James gay? Did he live his perspective through this story of the Bostonians…?. And imagine writing about women's rights movement intertwined with gay women of the day- a man writing in the 1800's! WoW – how progressive even today in 2011 people still debate the legitimacy of gay relationships (not me-please note I am happily married heterosexual). This is in amazing film. Period accurate and an incredible story about the dynamic of class – to be the lover of a women of means but who is really drawn to a traditional marriage – if he has the means to support her. Watch this from that perspective. It's remarkable to think that this was written in the late 1800's and that this film was done in the 1980s – so way ahead of its time. And then look at Christopher Reeve and how he took this movie to break out of his Superman stereo type…. Pretty incredible. I think the naysayers here really didn't get the historical significance of this film. Its an amazing film. Thank you Merchant and Ivory…you are amazing.

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