Peter Soffel is the stuffy warden of a remote American prison around the turn of the century. His wife, Kate, finds herself attracted to prisoner Ed Biddle. She abandons her husband and ... See full summary »

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Cast

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Margaret Soffel (as Jennie Dundas)
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Harley Cross ...
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Pippa Pearthree ...
William Youmans ...
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Joyce Ebert ...
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Storyline

Peter Soffel is the stuffy warden of a remote American prison around the turn of the century. His wife, Kate, finds herself attracted to prisoner Ed Biddle. She abandons her husband and children to help Ed and his brother Jack escape and accompanies them into the wintery wasteland. Written by Reid Gagle

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A true story

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Drama | Romance

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PG-13 | See all certifications »
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8 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Senhora Soffel  »

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(Metrocolor)

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A very old, closed, unused bridge in the village of Elora, Ontario was refurbished for the movie, and now serves as a pedestrian bridge there. See more »

Goofs

A toy electric train shown running around a Christmas tree is of a post-1950 design, as is the track. The train is based on 19th-century locomotive and passenger car prototypes, making it more plausible. However, toy electric trains that even remotely resembled the one shown did not exist by 1901. See more »

Connections

Referenced in People Like Us: Making 'Philadelphia' (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ignored, overlooked, forgotten. And why?
26 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Mrs. Soffel" is a wonderful movie I have seen many times, but the last viewing was so many years ago I'm watching it right now on TCM.

I'm a sucker for movies whose main characters suddenly, inexplicably make a decision which goes against everything they seem to embody, or at least that which the viewer has come to know about them. That Kate Soffel's story is a true one makes it all the more intriguing.

In early 20th-century America, the lot of a wife, even that of a well-to-do-man and mother to lovely children, was a lonely, empty, barren existence. In a wealthy household with servants, there was very little meaningful work for the mistress of the house to do every day.

Even the layers upon layers of clothes Victorian women wore served no practical purpose except to restrict movement and render their wearers merely decorative. Express your opinions and you got packed off to visit relatives in hopes that maybe the change of scenery would "do you good." There were millions of avenues for creative expression and enterprise that were simply cut off for women.

Good minds went to waste. Souls shriveled and died.

Kate Soffel (Diane Keaton) was the wife of a prison warden in Pittsburgh at the turn of the last century. She served as something of a missionary to the prisoners, giving them Bibles, holding prayer readings with them and hoping to guide them towards remorse and redemption. She never expects to fall in love with one of the inmates. But fall she does, for the charming Ed Biddle (Mel Gibson), who along with his brother Jack, (Matthew Modine) are in jail on murder charges.

Kate is suffocating; the Biddles are desperate. Prone to fits of melancholy and depression, plagued with fears that she is not a good mother and that she has failed her husband -- whom she has come to learn she really doesn't know very well -- Kate, like so many women of her era, is desperate for something to end the tedium, the frustration, the despair. She is a perfect candidate for the dangerous voyage she helps plan and sets out on with the Biddle brothers.

"Mrs. Soffel" raises many ethical and moral issues, among them the divergent path Kate takes from her religious teachings, and the Biddle brothers' guilt or innocence. It can be appreciated equally on one or more levels, but it remains a remarkably restrained depiction of emotions and passion that are anything but.


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