23 user 16 critic

The Grass Harp (1995)

PG | | Drama, Comedy | 11 October 1996 (USA)
2:54 | Trailer

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After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3 wins. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Riley Henderson
Grayson Fricke ...
Eugene Fenwick
Maude Riordan


After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city slicker comes to town and convinces Verena to market Dolly's locally-famous tonic, Dolly finally gets some backbone, refuses to divulge the formula, and heads for a tree house with Collin and Catherine, the loyal maid. Verena, who has most of the town in her pocket, sics the law on the renegades. Dolly, Catherine, and Collin find a supporter in a retired judge, Charlie Cool, who's attracted to Dolly. Will Verena's venom win out? And what about that city slicker? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Love is a chain of love... as nature is a chain of life. See more »


Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El arpa de hierba  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$117,161 (USA) (11 October 1996)


$493,007 (USA) (29 November 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Final filmed screenplay written by Stirling Silliphant. See more »


Dolly Talbo: Love is a chain.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Remembers Walter Matthau (2001) See more »


Written by Jerome Kern, Ira Gershwin
Performed by Glenn Miller and The Army Air Force Band
See more »

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User Reviews

This movie is a FEAST for the Eyes and Soul!
24 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

After watching The Grass Harp I felt I had just experienced a feast! If you are tired of the McDonald's diet of recent Hollywood formula movies than you will welcome this gourmet quality film!

Based on Southern writer Truman Capote's boyhood, the story reveals the nuances of small town life with humor and wit. The lush visuals and lyric pace create a leisure mood befitting the 1930's when life was simpler. The golden sepia tones of the scenes subtly transport us into the memories of Collin, through whose eyes the story is told. The Southern ambiance, social graces and simple pastimes of a bygone era are beautifully recreated in the world surrounding the characters.

I love the barbershop scenes, where locals gather to socialize and get the latest news. You just want to hang out in the shop and shoot the breeze with Walter Matthau and Roddy McDowell. Joe Don Baker is the perfect southern sheriff and his sidekick Ralph (a rooster) adds a hilarious touch of eccentricity to his tough good-old boy demeanor. Charles Durning is hilarious as a self-righteous preacher that can't wait to kick Mary Steenbergen and her brood of a dozen kids out of town.

Piper Laurie is the heart and soul of the movie as Dolly Talbo. The timid and ethereal Dolly has been living under the thumb of her overbearing sister (Sissy Spacek) but manages to create a unique life of meaning for herself. Edward Furlong plays their teen nephew Collin who comes to live with them.

Dolly and her housekeeper (Nell Carter) take Collin under their wing and try to help him adjust to life in this small southern town. As Dolly advises Collin about the girl he has a crush on, she too falls in love for the first time in her life.

Piper Laurie glows like a young girl around the young-at-heart Judge Cool (Walter Matthau). Their scenes together are sweet and heartbreaking.

The movie is beautiful, both visually and emotionally. It is funny, sad, and touching. Don't rush this viewing. Sit down with a glass of wine and savor.

The Grass Harp is a feast for the eyes and soul!

28 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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