Revolving around Truvy's Beauty Parlor in a small parish in modern-day Louisiana, STEEL MAGNOLIAS is the story of a close-knit circle of friends whose lives come together there. As the picture opens, we find Drum Eatenton shooting birds in the trees of his back yard in preparation for his daughter's wedding reception that afternoon. Shortly thereafter, M'Lynn and Shelby (Drum's wife and daughter) depart for Truvy's to get their hair done for the wedding. "Just the sweetest thing," Annelle Depuy Desoto (who may or may not be married because her marriage may not be legal) is introduced to Truvy's customers as her new "glamour technician." While in the chairs, the sour-tempered Ouiser Boudreaux shows up and entertains the assemblage with her barbs. It seems that the only one of the group who truly understands Ouiser is Clairee who is recently widowed and looking for a diversion. As she says, later in the picture, "If you can't find anything good to say about anybody, come sit by me." ... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <email@example.com>
Shot in the small Louisiana town of Natchitoches. Reportedly, the filmmakers made so many demands of the locals, particularly those who volunteered to be extras, that when The Man in the Moon (1991) was shot in the same town several years later, extras were very hard to find. See more »
When the ladies are in Truvy's shop before Shelby's wedding talking about recipes, Shelby alternates between applying lipstick and having her hands in her lap between shots. See more »
Flawed But Extremely Entertaining Mixture of Comedy and Drama
An extremely episodic story of several smalltown southern women whose social lives revolve around meetings in the local beauty parlor, STEEL MAGNOLIAS' script and performances are dogged by an aura of artificiality--but it scarcely matters, for the film is a tremendous amount of fun.
Some of the performances are more successful than others, with Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, and Darryl Hannah coming out on top (I am greatly surprised that so many other reviewers dislike Hannah's performance, which seems to me considerably less artificial than many others--but perhaps since I'm actually Southern I have a different perspective). Sally Fields and Dolly Parton are less successful, but not in any sense that actually distracts from the fun. Perhaps most surprising in a film which focuses on women are the brief but impressive performances from the male supporting cast, which includes effective performances by Tom Skerrit, Sam Shepherd, and Dylan McDermott, and which serve to ground the film with a sense of the broader community in which the women live.
The script abounds in zinging one-liners ("If you can't say something nice, come sit by me!") and often hilarious situations (imagine Olympia Dukakis surrounded by naked men in the highschool football team's locker room); it also contains some very touching segments sure to choke up all but the most heartless viewer. And although the story is extremely manipulative and rather predictable, those factors don't actually get in the way of its effectiveness. While probably not a "great film" by any serious standard, it is tremendously good-natured, well-intended, and extremely entertaining, and most people will find that it lingers pleasantly in mind and holds up well under repeated viewings.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
24 of 41 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?