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The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1991)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, Mystery | June 1991 (USA)
A tangled triangle. In the rural South of the early 20th century, Miss Amelia is the town eccentric, selling corn liquor and dispensing medicine. She takes in her half-sister's son, a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Miss Amelia
...
Marvin Macy
...
Cousin Lymon
...
...
Lawyer Taylor
...
...
Merlie Ryan
Mert Hatfield ...
Stumpy McPhail
...
Henry Macy
Anne Pitoniak ...
Mrs. McPhail
Frederick Johnson ...
Jeff
Lauri Raymond ...
Sadie Ricketts
...
Henry Ford Crimp (as Joe Stephens)
Keith Wommack ...
Tom Rainey
Kevin Wommack ...
George Rainey
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Storyline

A tangled triangle. In the rural South of the early 20th century, Miss Amelia is the town eccentric, selling corn liquor and dispensing medicine. She takes in her half-sister's son, a diminutive crook-back named Lymon. He suggests they open a café in the downstairs of her large house. Marvin Macy gets out of prison and returns to town; turns out he was married to Amelia but it wasn't consummated. He pleaded, then got angry. Is he back for revenge? Eventually, Amelia and Marvin stage a no-holds-barred fight in the café. Lymon's complicated response to Marvin and to Cousin Amelia figures in the resolution. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a scene of violence | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

June 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Ballad of the Sad Café  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$184,890 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of a number of collaborations of director Simon Callow with Merchant Ivory Productions (MIP) where Callow in all the other productions has worked as an actor except for The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1991). Callow's MIP films as an actor include Maurice (1987), Howards End (1992), Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990), A Room with a View (1985) and Jefferson in Paris (1995) and as himself in In Ismail's Custody (1994). See more »

Goofs

Several times earlier in the film, we are shown how the only way to arrive at Miss Amelia's secret still is by wading - neck-deep - through a muddy swamp. Yet late in the film when Marvin Macy and Cousin Lymon are shown at Miss Amelia's still, their clothes are clean and dry. See more »

Quotes

Mary Hale: Marvin changed himself. That time he loved Miss Amelia. Well, it seemed like he changed completely -- he was -- he was good to me, and to Henry... You remember that, doncha'?
Rev. Willin: I remember that.
Mary Hale: Why'd she throw him out? Why'd she marry him and then throw him out? Why?
Rev. Willin: I don't know. All I know is... that it takes two people to be in love. It takes the... lover... and the beloved. But these two, they come from... diff'rent countries. And sometimes, the... the belove is the cause for all the, all the...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

By far the best movie version of McCullers' work
18 May 2001 | by (Weaverville, NC) – See all my reviews

This film adaptation of Carson McCullers' novella is the best of all the screen versions of her works. Cinematography is excellent. Vanessa Redgrave turns in a great performance as the stoic Miss Amelia, unlucky in love but yearning to fulfill her thwarted desire to love and be loved. With the arrival of a dwarf claiming to be a relation, Miss Amelia finds herself able to live and love again. But with the arrival of Marvin Macy, her absentee husband, things take a change for the worse.

The other performances are good, and the scenery and costumes accurately reflect a Depression-era southern backwater. A near-literal transcription from book to screen, without annoying time changes, character elimination, or overacting to distract from it. Good.


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