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Places in the Heart (1984)

PG | | Drama | 5 October 1984 (USA)
In the Deep South in the 1930s, a widow and her family try to run their cotton farm with the help of a disparate group of friends.

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ON DISC
Won 2 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Yankton Hatten ...
Gennie James ...
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Wylie (as Devoreaux White)
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Storyline

Edna Spalding finds herself alone and broke on a small farm in the midst of the Great Depression when her husband the Sheriff is killed in an accident. A wandering black man, Moses, helps her to plant cotton to try and keep her farm and her kids together. She also takes on a blind boarder, Mr. Will, who lost his sight in the first World War. She must endure storms and harsh labor to try and make her mortgage payment on time. Written by Susan Southall <stobchatay@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of a woman fighting for her children, for her land, for the greatest dream there is...the future.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 October 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Texas Project  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross:

$34,700,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sally Field's characters first name "Edna" is only said once in the entire film. During the majority of the film, she is referred to as "Mrs. Spalding". Other than that, she is referred to as "Sis" or "ma'am". See more »

Goofs

When the children run out of Mr. Will's room (after playing his phonograph), Frank leaves the desk lamp on. When Mr. Will discovers the record is scratched, the lamp is off. Since he is blind, he would not have used, or changed, the lamp. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edna Spalding: [seeing her daughter's doll at the dinner table] Possum, put that up now.
Royce Spalding: Our Heavenly Father, bless this meal and all those who are about to receive it. Make us thankful for Your generous bounty, and Your unceasing love. Please remind us, in these hard times, to be grateful for what we have been given, and not to ask for what we can not have. And make us mindful of those less fortunate among us, as we sit at this table with all of Thy bounty. Amen.
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Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.76 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Sweet By and By
Music by J.P. Webster (as Joseph P. Webster)
Lyrics by S. Fillmore Bennett
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User Reviews

 
Our Own Blessed Assurance Of A Beautiful Garden Of Fellowship
14 August 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When Robert Benton wrote and directed Places in the Heart he created his own Citizen Kane. Like Orson Welles he will spend the rest of his life trying to better it and won't succeed.

Places in the Heart takes place in Waxahachie, Texas in 1935 and our director was born there in 1932. The film is a personal vision of his childhood in that small Texas town. It bears a whole lot of resemblance to To Kill a Mockingbird, except that the adult protagonist is not a widower lawyer, but the widowed wife of a sheriff left to fend for herself after her husband is killed.

Benton creates his characters with a loving hand, but that does not mean he doesn't see the flaws in the people there, the racism, the sexism, the hypocrisy and the pettiness. Field's husband, Ray Baker, is killed by a drunken black man accidentally. Killing a law enforcement official probably would have gotten him legally executed in any event, but the town administers its own brand of justice to the perpetrator.

That being said, it still doesn't solve the problem of a woman who has no education or training to support herself and her family. Sally gets the idea to grow cotton on the few acres her husband left her and gets a pair of strange allies in John Malkovich and Danny Glover to help her.

Glover is an itinerant hobo who is the one who if he knows anything knows cotton from his sharecropping background. He's who really holds the family together in the crisis. John Malkovich is a blind man whose brother-in-law is unctuous town banker, Lane Smith, who essentially dumps him on Field because he doesn't want to care for him. Malkovich who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor proves to be a faithful friend.

Lindsay Crouse was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Field's sister. There's a subplot in the film involving her and her philandering husband Ed Harris.

Robert Benton won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Director and Sally Field won her second Oscar for Places in the Heart. Her character isn't as feisty as her first Oscar winner, Norma Rae, but Edna Spalding certainly has the same grit.

Period country and gospel music make up the soundtrack for Places in the Heart. Old line Protestant hymns Blessed Assurance begins the film and In The Garden is the theme for the surreal ending.

I can't describe the ending except that it is one of the most beautiful in the history of cinema. It's a vision of what promise we have either in heaven or a utopia we make on earth where the things that divide humankind are washed away and we are in fellowship with each other and our Maker.

You have to have a heart of diamond if you are not moved by Places in the Heart.


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