172 user 53 critic

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

2:09 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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)
3,046 ( 3,189)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Misery (1990)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
Apt Pupil (1998)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, Joshua Jackson
Crime | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A mysterious new shop opens in a small town which always seems to stock the deepest desires of each shopper, with a price far heavier than expected.

Director: Fraser C. Heston
Stars: Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A widowed mother and her son change when a mysterious stranger enters their lives.

Director: Scott Hicks
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis
Pet Sematary (1989)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Director: Mary Lambert
Stars: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne
Cujo (1983)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.

Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Danny Pintauro
Thinner (1996)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

An obese lawyer is cursed by a gypsy to lose weight...and lose weight...and lose weight...

Director: Tom Holland
Stars: Joe Mantegna, Robert John Burke, Lucinda Jenney
The Dead Zone (1983)
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic detective ability.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt
The Dark Half (1993)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A writer's fictional alter-ego wants to take over his life...at any price.

Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker
Firestarter (1984)
Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A couple who participated in a potent medical experiment gain telekinetic ability and then have a child who is pyrokinetic.

Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: Drew Barrymore, David Keith, Freddie Jones
Christine (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A woman advertising for a new roommate finds that something very strange is going on with the tenant who decides to move in.

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Stars: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Steven Weber


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
See  »

Did You Know?


Judy Parfitt was recommended for the role of Vera by director Taylor Hackford's wife, Helen Mirren. Parfitt, who had largely confined her career to the stage, was virtually unknown to film audiences at the time. After auditioning with Kathy Bates, Bates reportedly turned to Hackford and gasped "Who was that?" They agreed to cast Parfitt on the spot. See more »


After the brief shot of Dolores turning over her glass on the tabletop and booze dripping out, it slowly dissolves into a shot of clouds, then a pan of the shoreline to reveal the St. George house. During that pan, a portable toilet is very visible. A company in Nova Scotia rents a model that is blue with a bright yellow roof - exactly what you see in the scene. That's a fairly distinctive color scheme, which arguably makes this a geographic goof as well. See more »


Dolores Claiborne: [to Joe] That is the last time you ever hit me! Next time, one of us is going to the bone yard.
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

Very successful film
10 November 2004 | by (St. Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

Kathy Bates made quite an impact, so to speak, on the movie-going public with her bravura performance in another Stephen King adaptation, 'Misery.' But showy (and fun) as that role was, it wasn't really much of an acting part--the real heavy lifting in that film was done by James Caan in his quieter, subtler role as the object of Bates's affection.

In 'Dolores Claiborne,' Bates finally gets a King role fully worthy of her range and subtlety. She pulls off the age transformations beautifully--I actually wondered at times whether young Dolores or old Dolores was closer to her real age. She still gets to have fun with King's trademark Maine dialect ('Now you listen to me, Mr. Grand High Poobah of Uppah Buttcrack!' is a line that gets me every time), but she never goes too far, and her every gesture tells of her great loves for her daughter and her friend, without ever exaggerating or sentimentalizing them. It's a remarkable performance, and the actress is probably right to remember it as her best role.

The rest of the film into which the performance fits creaks a bit in places (the final melodramatic scene at the hearing is pretty hokey), and it's complicated somewhat by Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance, which may be *too* good--her Selena comes off as so angry and selfish that we don't particularly *want* her to reconcile with her mother. But overall, the film's an artistic success, done in a classic American style, and using the simple but effective device of changing the color scheme to ease us from the present to the past.

The supporting cast more than stands up to Bates, too. Judy Parfitt is all too believable as Vera Donovan, especially in her younger incarnation--those of us who grew up in tourist towns are very familiar with this kind of harpy queen who comes to town and sets up shop for good. But the part isn't a simple caricature--those tears of anger and pride that Vera cries for Dolores and her daughter feel very real indeed. Christopher Plummer, with his mushy red nose and schoolteacher's diction, overdoes it a bit, perhaps, but it basically goes with the character he's been given. And David Strathairn's Joe St. George surely deserves a high place in the canon of Stephen King movie villains. Strathairn makes him as bad as can be, and yet there's occasionally a playful touch that *almost* makes us see why Dolores married him in the first place.

In the end, a rather underrated film, successful on many levels. 8.5. out of 10.

54 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What movies contain the same atmosphere as this? Ante_Mulari
'Remember, he dies at five.' mitch_rh
How the Oscars should have looked in 1995. mitch_rh
To Florida2 and those who agreed with him genco-5
Didn´t Kathy Bates deserve an oscar? Grisling
Discuss Dolores Claiborne (1995) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: