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Mrs. Soffel
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Mrs. Soffel (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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Mrs. Soffel -- Diane Keaton stars as a prison warden's wife who falls in love with a death row convict (Mel Gibson.) Believing he's innocent, she helps him and his convicted brother escape.


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Up 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Ron Nyswaner (written by)
View company contact information for Mrs. Soffel on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
26 December 1984 (USA) See more »
A true story
Peter Soffel is the stuffy warden of a remote American prison around the turn of the century. His wife... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
One of the best American films of the 1980's See more (24 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Diane Keaton ... Kate Soffel

Mel Gibson ... Ed Biddle

Matthew Modine ... Jack Biddle

Edward Herrmann ... Warden Peter Soffel

Trini Alvarado ... Irene Soffel

Jennifer Dundas ... Margaret Soffel (as Jennie Dundas)

Danny Corkill ... Eddie Soffel
Harley Cross ... Clarence Soffel

Terry O'Quinn ... Detective Buck McGovern
Pippa Pearthree ... Maggie
William Youmans ... Guard George Koslow

Maury Chaykin ... Guard Charlie Reynolds
Joyce Ebert ... Matron Agnes Garvey

Wayne Robson ... Halliday

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson ... Jessie Bodyne
Les Rubie ... Mr. Stevenson
Paula Trueman ... Mrs. Stevenson
Nancy Chesney ... Mrs. Fitzgerald
Samantha Follows ... Becky Knotts
Katie McCombs ... Rachel Garvey
Linda Gabler ... Leota Yoeders
Eric Hebert ... Paperboy
Tom Harvey ... Attorney Burke
Jack Jessop ... Attorney Watson
William Duell ... Lenny
John Dee ... Old Prisoner
J. Winston Carroll ... Guard McGarey (as John W. Carroll)
David Fox ... McNeil
Fred Booker ... Trustee
Valerie Buhagiar ... Alice

Norma Dell'Agnese ... Woman Reporter
Al Koslik ... Reporter (as Al Kozlik)

Philip Craig ... Reporter
Frank Adamson ... Swinehart
Don Granberry ... Roach

Linda Carola ... Factory Girl
George Belskey ... Mr. Bodyne
Maruska Stankova ... Mrs. Bodyne (as Marushka Stankova)
James Bradford ... Minister
Charles Jolliffe ... Sheriff Hoon
Rodger Barton ... Deputy Hoon
Jack Mather ... Mr. Watson
Lee-Max Walton ... Harry
Sean Sullivan ... Farmer
Warren Van Evera ... Farmer
Walter Massey ... District Attorney
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jane Foster ... Elsie
David Barckhoff ... Boy on sidewalk (uncredited)
Chris Cummings ... Boy (uncredited)

Len Doncheff ... Polish Guard (uncredited)
Clay Follett ... Farmer (uncredited)

Heather Graham ... Factory Girl (uncredited)
Kay Hawtrey ... Peter's Secretary (uncredited)
David Huckvale ... Russian Twin (uncredited)
Douglas Huckvale ... Russian Twin (uncredited)

John Innes ... Reporter (uncredited)
Derek Keurvorst ... Reporter (uncredited)

Dan Lett ... Young Man (uncredited)
Don McManus ... Reporter (uncredited)

Alan C. Peterson ... Guard (uncredited)
Dorothy Phelan ... Old Aunt (uncredited)
Lou Pitoscia ... Prisoner (uncredited)
Joe Shelby ... Lawyer (uncredited)
Gerry Tucker ... Policeman (uncredited)
Victoria Vanderkloot ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Chuck Waters ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Brian Young ... McNeil's Secretary (uncredited)
Ralph Zeldin ... Russian (uncredited)

Directed by
Gillian Armstrong 
Writing credits
Ron Nyswaner (written by)

Produced by
Dennis E. Jones .... associate producer (as Dennis Jones)
David Nicksay .... producer (as David A. Nicksay)
Scott Rudin .... producer
Edgar J. Scherick .... producer
Original Music by
Mark Isham 
Cinematography by
Russell Boyd 
Film Editing by
Nicholas Beauman 
Casting by
Margery Simkin 
Production Design by
Luciana Arrighi 
Art Direction by
Roy Forge Smith 
Set Decoration by
Dan Conley 
Hilton Rosemarin 
Costume Design by
Shay Cunliffe 
Makeup Department
Linda Gill .... makeup artist
Patricia Green .... makeup supervisor
Paul LeBlanc .... hair stylist
Production Management
Monty Diamond .... unit production manager: Pittsburgh
Dennis E. Jones .... production manager (as Dennis Jones)
Michael MacDonald .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ronald M. Bozman .... first assistant director: Pittsburgh (as Ron Bozman)
Ronald M. Bozman .... second unit director (as Ron Bozman)
Mark Egerton .... assistant director
Richard Flower .... second assistant director
Rocco Gismondi .... third assistant director
Tony Gittelson .... second assistant director: Pittsburgh (as Anthony H. Gittelson)
Glenn Randall Jr. .... second unit director (as Glenn H. Randall Jr.)
Art Department
Daniel R. Bradette .... assistant property master
Jacques M. Bradette .... supervising set decorator (as Jacques Bradette)
J. Tracy Budd .... property master
Carmi Gallo .... assistant art director
Bill Harman .... construction coordinator
Andris Hausmanis .... assistant art director
Edward Pisoni .... art director: Pittsburgh
Sound Department
George H. Anderson .... sound effects editor (as George Anderson)
Dody Dorn .... dialogue editor (as Dody Jane Dorn)
Dennis Drummond .... sound effects editor
Robert Grieve .... supervising sound editor (as Bob Grieve)
Jay M. Harding .... sound re-recording mixer
David J. Kimball .... sound re-recording mixer
David Lee .... production sound mixer
Ray O'Reilly .... sound re-recording mixer
Andrew Patterson .... dialogue loop editor
Steve Switzer .... boom operator
Christian T. Cooke .... foley mixer (uncredited)
Terry Cooke .... temp mix re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Ken Dufva .... foley artist (uncredited)
Reid Paul Martin .... assistant sound editor (uncredited)
Don White .... adr recording mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Kevin Pike .... special effects supervisor: Pittsburgh
David Neil Trifunovich .... special effects coordinator (as Neil Trifunovich)
Jacques Godbout .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Marco Bianco .... stunts
Robin Grathwol .... stunts
Glenn Randall Jr. .... stunt coordinator (as Glenn H. Randall Jr.)
Bruce Smith .... stunts
Victoria Vanderkloot .... stunts
Chuck Waters .... stunts
Pete White .... stunt performer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
George Berrios .... first assistant camera: Pittsburgh
Holly Bower .... still photographer
Ralph Brandofino .... second assistant camera: Pittsburgh
Darwin Dean .... director of photography: Pittsburgh
Tony Eldridge .... second electrician
Henri Fiks .... second camera operator
Ron Gillham .... key grip
Glen Goodchild .... second grip
Chris Harris .... second assistant camera
Gail Harvey .... still photographer
Chris Helcermanas-Benge .... still photographer
Chris Holmes .... chief lighting technician
John McCallum .... first assistant camera (as Sandy McCallum)
Peter Norman .... director of photography: Pittsburgh
Rod Parkhurst .... camera operator
Robert Saad .... second camera operator
Stuart Stein .... second assistant camera: Pittsburgh
Casting Department
Stuart Aikins .... casting: Toronto
Allan Amtzis .... casting assistant
Lynne Carrow .... additional casting
Brenda McConnell .... casting assistant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Linda Kemp .... wardrobe mistress (as Lynda Kemp)
Arthur Rowsell .... costumer: men
Patti Unger .... costumer: women (as Patty Unger)
SJ Teasdale .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Bob Kaiser .... color timer
Bruce Lange .... first assistant editor
John Pleffer .... post-production coordinator
Michael Rea .... second assistant editor
Music Department
Mark Adler .... music arranger: string arrangements
Todd Boekelheide .... music supervisor
Gary Clayton .... music recordist
Transportation Department
Nick Sweetman .... transportation coordinator
Other crew
Todd Arnow .... location auditor
Michael Barnathan .... assistant: Mr. Scherick
Marc Dassas .... location manager
Nora Dunfee .... dialect consultant
Alice Ferrier .... production coordinator: Canada
Cassie Freckleton .... location auditor
Penelope Hynam .... script supervisor
Patricia Johnson .... unit publicist
Lisa McClelland .... production coordinator: Pittsburgh
Peggy Munns .... assistant: Ms. Armstrong
Rick Parker .... wrangler
Janice Polley .... assistant: Mr. Nicksay
Stephen Seliy .... location manager: Pittsburgh (as Steve Seliy)
Adam J. Shully .... assistant location manager
Ed Urban .... technical advisor (as Lt. Ed Urban)
Casey Brown .... production assistant (uncredited)
Linda Callow .... stand-in: Diane Keaton (uncredited)
Lev Mailer .... adr voice (uncredited)
Dan Roth .... adr voice (uncredited)
Sandy Webb .... legal (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
110 min | 112 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The combined nick-name of brothers Ed Biddle (Mel Gibson) and Jack Biddle (Matthew Modine) was "The Biddle Brothers".See more »
Anachronisms: 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 »
Movie Connections:


What famous New Age composer wrote the score for Mrs.Soffel?
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29 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
One of the best American films of the 1980's, 25 January 2005
Author: Rigor from Chicago, USA

This is one of the best American films of the 1980's. It is based on the true story of the wife of the Allegheny County Jail warden, Kate Soffel (Diane Keaton) who falls in love with a sexually alluring working class inmate, Ed Biddle (Mel Gibosn) in turn of the century Pittsburgh and plots to help him and his brother, Jack (Matthew Modine) escape. Director Gillian Armstrong and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner brilliantly decided to deal with the story in an elliptical and indirect way. We aren't telegraphed anything. We don't know if the Biddle's are innocent. We don't really understand why Kate falls in love with Ed. We aren't directly told why Kate is so disappointed in her life. The filmmakers takes this personal story and turns it into a progressive feminist mood poem. It is extraordinary to see a post 1970's American film this complex and this progressive.

Diane Keaton gives a remarkably complex and nuanced performance. The film is almost unimaginable with her in the leading role. Early in the film she communicates the torment and longing of Kate in a way that warrants comparisons with the greatest acting of the silent cinema. We see the depression and desperation in Kate's face in a way that rivals Maria Falconetti in Dryer's THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC and Lilian Gish in Victor Sjöström's THE WIND and D.W. Griffith's BROKEN BLOSSOM'S. One of the remarkably subversive aspects of the film is its relationship to Kate's Christianity (which becomes particularly pointed watched in the contemporary context and thinking about Mel Gibson's PASSION OF THE Christ fundamentalism). She is a bit scary creeping about the prison trying to sell doomed men on a faith that will set them free. The suggestion is that it is this same faith, or more precisely the way Christianity is used as a structuring device of patriarchy, that has trapped Kate into her own life sentence. When she becomes aroused by Ed everything shifts, she looks different, some kind of remarkable radiance shines forth from Keaton's face. Her bible lessons become a pretext for sexual release. She literally makes love to Ed through the bars with his brother nearby, which adds a remarkable charge of voyeurism to the proceedings.

Mel Gibson has never been photographed more sensually then in this film. There is a scene late in the film, in which, he is lying in bed with the sunlight playing on his face that in which his beauty is almost angelic. He's photographed and contextualized the way male directors have often shot young classically beautiful women (think of Julie Christie in David Lean's Dr. ZHIVAGO, Joseph Losey's THE GO BETWEEN, or Donald Cammell's DEMONSEED or Faye Dunaway in Roman Polanski's CHINATOWN or Sydney Pollock's 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR). Armstong also allows Gibson's sense of humor to peek out to suggest layers to this character. We never totally trust Ed, yet we root for him or at least root for Kate's vision of him.

The cinematography by Russell Boyd is exceptionally original and the production design emphasizes the grimy oppressive nature of an industrial town. this was actually a critique of the film at the time of its release. It was too dark, mainstream reviewers said. Well actually its historically accurate. Pittsburgh was so soot filled and grimy that the street lights had to stay on all day long! This is the great environmental tragedy of the industrial revolution. Armstrong uses this look for strong dramatic effect and creates a kind of mood poem here that reminds me of the best work of Antonioni and of Werner Herzog remarkable NOSFERATU. Like in that great film we can never quiet situate ourselves, the oppressive dim look of the film suggests we might be in a kind of waking nightmare. Is the environment part of Kate's psychic and physical affliction? Who could be happy or healthy living in this kind of relentlessly dismal environ? When we finally leave Pittsburgh Boyd and Armstrong present us with some of the most lovingly photographed images of sun and snow in American cinema. The viewer so ready for these brighter images that they alter our the way we connect to the story.

That this film was neither a critical nor a commercial success is a tragedy for the contemporary Hollywood cinema. Its failure became one of the many excuses for the overwhelming turn to the banal cookie cutter cinema that Hollywood is known for today. One hopes that cinephiles everywhere will reclaim ambitious films like MRS. SOFFEL as an example

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Diane's hair homerwells-1
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