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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


Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend 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?


While filming the scene on the ferry between Dolores and Selena, Jennifer Jason Leigh became seasick. A student from the local high school was pulled out of class to act as a stand-in. See more »


During the flashback scene in the kitchen which culminates with Joe hitting Dolores across the back, the thickness of the roll of kitchen paper hanging underneath the cupboard behind Dolores changes drastically at one point. See more »


Selena St. George: [when leaving her mother] I'm sorry, Mother. Sometimes being a bitch is the only thing a woman has hold onto.
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

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User Reviews

Expert story-telling+fine acting=good entertainment
7 April 2005 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

I first saw "Dolores Claiborne" when it came out in 1995 and have seen it again some 3 or 4 times since, a practice I dedicate only to "certified" masterpieces. At first, I couldn't figure out why I kept revisiting "D.C." when it showed up on cable - it's not a cinematic wonder or a work of art (something it doesn't strive to be, by the way), not even a story that you can say it's really original. But as I became more familiar with the film, I could see why it always pulled me in: it's a triumph of story-telling, of the WAY and PACE the story is revealed in small precise doses much like slowly completing a puzzle, the kind of film you can only let go when the last missing piece (Selena's final flashback) fits into place.

How the story manages to make such initially repulsive characters (all of them!!) develop into sympathetic (or at least pathetic) ones is of course Stephen King's special talent, expertly translated by the fine jobs by the screenwriter, actors and director of "Dolores Claiborne". The cinematography is kind of obvious in its distinct color treatment of past and present, but the entire cast is inspired, including Kathy Bates' best-ever performance (she has stated so herself), especially in the flash-back scenes; delightfully virtuoso Judy Parfitt (you just keep hoping along for more Vera's scenes, and each one of them is a knockout); and reliable pros Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn (such an underrated actor!) and John C. Reilly. Even Jennifer Jason Leigh for once has her irritating mannerisms fit perfectly to build her terribly tormented character.

That's what good story-telling is all about: even if you already know the plot from A to Z, you just want to see once again the way it unfolds, like a good scary fairy tale. "Dolores Claiborne" is not without faults, but it's certainly worth your time, and even more than once.

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