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The Whales of August (1987)

It's August. Like they have most summers, elderly widowed sisters Libby Strong and Sarah Webber, who live in Philadelphia, are staying together in the family's summer cottage on an island ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Frank Grimes ...
Frank Pitkin ...
Mike Bush ...


It's August. Like they have most summers, elderly widowed sisters Libby Strong and Sarah Webber, who live in Philadelphia, are staying together in the family's summer cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. The cottage, which now belongs to Sarah, has been in their family most of their lives, it which was the family's summer getaway from Philadelphia when they were younger. There are a few people who have been half-century friends or acquaintances on the island, including the outspoken Tisha Doughty who is like a bossy third sister, and Joshua Brackett, who has long done any of the handy work around the cottage. Someone relatively new at least to Sarah's social circle is Mr. Maranov, a former Russian aristocrat for who chivalry is just a way of life. His stay on the island is however threatened when his landlady, Hilda Partridge, passes away. Sarah and Libby have come to the realization that they are in the respective twilight of their lives, largely regarding issues directly ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Screen's Immortals... A movie you'll never forget.




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Release Date:

19 August 1987 (France)  »

Also Known As:

As Baleias de Agosto  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,338,198 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(flashbacks)| (TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Screen legend Lillian Gish was 93 when she co-starred in this film, making her the oldest actress ever to feature in a leading role. See more »


Libby and Sarah have been coming to the cottage since they were children, but Sarah tells Mr. Beckwith that her aunt built the cottage 50 years ago, which would mean that Libby and Sarah were actually in their late 20s-early 30s when it was built. See more »


Sarah Webber: Passion and truth: that's all we need.
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Featured in All About Bette (1994) See more »


Roses of Picardy
Music by Haydn Wood
Lyrics by Frederick Edward Weatherly
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User Reviews

Quiet, contemplative little drama
10 November 2002 | by (La Rioja, Spain) – See all my reviews

This is a delightful piece set on the magnificent shores of New England's Atlantic Ocean, with an absolutely unrepeatable cast. Starring not only Bette Davis and Lilian Gish, alone worth anybody's money, well advanced into the autumn of their years, but also a very welcome Vincent Price, and a magnificent Ann Sothern together with her real daughter, Tisha Sterling.

A slow sensitive story in which each one looks back on life from differing perspectives; as usual, Bette Davis is in a dominating rôle, which, despite her advanced years, carries off quite well; Lillian Gish is just superb, lending that toned-down equanimous nature of hers which pervades the whole atmosphere of the film. And as the film develops around their house and in the garden and on the cliff-tops looking out to sea in earnest attempts to see the whales making their way south, the quiet contemplativeness of the film holds you. This is a film you will cherish and savour long afterwards. Which is why it is in my video collection since 1993 and why IMDb contributors 15 years on are still commenting on this heart-warming piece, half a dozen of them only so far this year.

So as to make a contrast, I suggest that impressive classic 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' (1962), with Bette Davis playing against Joan Crawford: an intense dramatic piece.

Just a few weeks after being invited to the San Sebastián Film Festival – her last public engagement – Bette Davis died, as has Lillian Gish: unrepeatable.

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