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Dolores Claiborne (1995)

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A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.



(book), (screenplay)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Roy Cooper ...
Weldon Allen ...
Tom Gallant ...
Kelly Burnett ...


Dolores Claiborne works as a maid for a wealthy woman in remote Maine. When she is indicted for the elderly woman's murder, Dolores' daughter Selena returns from New York, where she has become a big-shot reporter. In the course of working out the details of what has happened, as well as some shady questions from the past and Selina's troubled childhood, many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife. This is cleverly portrayed with present reality shot in cool blue tones blending seamlessly into flashbacks shot in vivid color. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewers.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They were separated by a death...and reunited by a murder. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and domestic abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 March 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dolores  »

Box Office


$24,361,867 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The ferry at the end of the movie is called the "Joshua Slocum", named for the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone. See more »


The eclipse is dated early in the movie as occurring in 1975. However, according to the NASA Sunsearch database records, there were no solar eclipses (total or annular) on Earth in all of 1975. Additionally, from 1961 to 1980 there were no total eclipses visible in the filming locations. The closest was visible only in the Pacific Northwest in February of 1979. See more »


Dolores Claiborne: If anyone is going to accuse me of killing my husband, go right ahead and call me Dolores!
See more »


Referenced in Scream: The TV Series: Let the Right One In (2016) See more »


Happy Days Are Here Again
Written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

What Is Past Is Prologue...
23 May 2004 | by (Ithaca, NY) – See all my reviews

Few Stephen King works of fiction translate well to the screen. Horror elements are best left described rather than shown - so that the darkest recesses of our own imaginations can fill in the details. The horror visions of others may or may not affect us the same way - more often than not, they fall short of true terror.

But DOLORES CLAIBORNE is the exception - a masterful condensation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. More compact and deeply psychological than the novel, the film focuses almost exclusively on telling the story (in both present-day AND multiple flashback story lines) of Dolores Claiborne and her daughter, Selena.

Charged with murdering her wealthy but crippled employer, Dolores (Kathy Bates) is reunited with her estranged daughter, Selena (Jennifer Jason-Leigh). Sullen, brilliant, but deeply disturbed by a past that still obviously haunts her, Selena returns to the lonely and isolated Maine fishing village to help her mother face the legal and familial issues raised by the murder accusation.

We learn that Dolores had previously been suspected of killing her abusive and alcoholic husband. The same detective who had been unable to press the case 17 years earlier is now assigned to the new investigation. And as his work proceeds, secrets from the past reveal themselves, through brilliant use of flashbacks.

The acting by all concerned is first rate, with Bates giving probably her finest non-Oscar-nominated performance. Jason-Leigh is spot-on as the psychologically damaged and cynical Selena - more a victim than even she knows. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the detective.

Taylor Hackford's direction is absolutely brilliant - as is the use of color saturation and creative scene blending and transition to move seamlessly between present and past.

This is an outstanding film - well worth the Oscar nominations it received (as well as those it did not!). HIghest rating!

45 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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