Prudence Crandall establishes herself in Cantenbury, and starts a girls-school. When Eliza Harris, a black girl, wants to take lessons at this school, the local people resist and forbid ... See full summary »




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Credited cast:
Chris Anthony ...
Catherine Ann
Anthony Chris ...
Catherine Ann
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sarah Harris
Wilson Bell ...
William Harris
Eliza Hammond
Fredric Cooke ...
Rev. Samuel May
William Lloyd Garrison
Parker Elsworth
Jim Deken ...
Andrew Gibson
School Girl
Harry Gibbs ...
Judge David Dagget
T. Max Graham ...
Sheriff George Cady
Dr. Rufus Adams


Prudence Crandall establishes herself in Cantenbury, and starts a girls-school. When Eliza Harris, a black girl, wants to take lessons at this school, the local people resist and forbid their daughters to go to the school any longer. William Lloyd Garrison, writer of The Liberator, helps Prudence to turn her school to a black girls-school. Written by Tony Kessen <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

15 April 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

E lei rimase sola  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Prudence knows best
23 October 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Mare Winningham is Prudence Crandall, an ex-Quaker and teacher who opens the Canterbury Boarding School for Young Ladies in Connecticut in 1832. After she allows a colored maid Marcia Davis (Lisa Marie Russell) to sit in the back of the class, Prudence than accepts other colored girls as students, which causes a town uproar.

As Prudence who is described as `the most stubborn stiff-necked female in the entire country', Winningham wears her brown hair in a bun, except when she is in bed when it is down in a long plait, and her clothes are period - bonnets, capes, and petticoated dresses. As in her 1990 Crossing to Freedom, she uses a `hmm?' at the end of her sentence to emphasise her statement, she speaks French, and sings hymns. When townspeople crowd outside her school, Winningham enters yelling `I will not be patronised', and looks into the camera when she is imprisoned and says `When I am weak, then I am strong'.

The teleplay by Bruce Franklin Singer, based on a true story, is painfully didactic, which isn't a surprise for a Disney production. Prudence's romantic life is shown to be sacrificed for her career, she has terrible luck with her first partner lawyer Andrew Gibson (Robert Desiderio) and William, the editor of The Boston Liberator, her situation indicated by her referring to her students as her `children'. Prudence is also shown to have a strong fantasy life, where she invokes visions of William, and Singer has her appear to make a letter she reads in prison a dialogue. A trial incorporates whimsy such as a speech defending Prudence that no prosecutor would allow, and Prudence's students singing a song they appeared to have composed for the day. However one exchange is funny in a politically incorrect way. When asked if he is familiar with the school, Daniel replies `I oughta be. I'm down wind of it'.

Director Jack Gold doesn't lighten the didacticism, but he frames Prudence at the top of a triangle formation of the students as she speaks.

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