The Whole Wide World (1996)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  20 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,857 users  
Reviews: 86 user | 26 critic

In Texas in the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric, interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer - of the pulp stories of 'Conan ... See full summary »



(memoir One Who Walked Alone), (screenplay)
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6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Howard
Dr. Howard
Clyde Smith
Helen Cates ...
Leslie Buesing ...
Ethel (as Leslie Berger)
Chris Shearer ...
Sandy Walper ...
Marion Eaton ...
Woman on Bus
Dell Aldrich ...
Mrs. Hemphill (as Dell F. Aldrich)
Etna Reed Price
Booth Adams
Mrs. Smith


In Texas in the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric, interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer - of the pulp stories of 'Conan the Barbarian'; she's an aspiring one. A friendship develops into a sort of courtship. Based on a memoir by Novalyne Price. Written by Eileen Berdon <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A true story about the true love of the greatest pulp fiction writer of all time.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for a substantial amount of mild language and mature thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

20 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alle Liebe dieser Welt  »

Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,318 (USA) (20 December 1996)


$136,933 (USA) (3 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The budget for this movie was set at $1.3 million. Due to their shortened time frame and lack of money, actor 'Vincent D'Onofrio (I)' had to convince the Bond companies to let them shoot certain scenes. See more »


When the school principal welcomes the teachers for the new school year, the U.S. flag in the background has 50 stars, whereas in the 1930s the flag would have only had 48 stars. See more »


[first lines]
Novalyne Price: I met Bob Howard today. My old sweetheart, Clyde, brought him over.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During her interview on "Inside the Actor's Studio", Renee Zellweger revealed that the end credit for Woofgang Zellweger was an inside reference to her dog, "Woof." See more »


References Captain Blood (1935) See more »


A Lonely Tear
Composed by Roger-Roger (as Eric Swann) (SACEM)
Published by Chappell Recorded Music Library Ltd (PRS)
Courtesy of Universal Publishing Production Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Movie's Heart is as big as the Whole Wide World
26 November 2002 | by (Natick, MA, US) – See all my reviews

I saw online that this movie would be on TV and, since I love Renee Zellweger, I decided to give it a try. What I found was a rare movie that combines a tragic yet realistic romance with over-the-top performances that make the movie worth watching. For some it might get off to a slow start, but stay with it if you're the least bit interested. I made the mistake of playing around on the computer the first time I watched it, and I missed a lot. This movie deserves your full attention.

Based on the memoir by Novalyn Price about her relationship with pulp writer Bob Howard, the film does an excellent job of showing the on-and-off romance between grade-school teacher Novalyn and full-time writer Bob from both sides. Novalyn truly likes Bob, even loves him at one point, but Bob rides her off, saying "he can't be tied down." But once Novalyn starts dating Truett Benson, Bob's friend, Bob suddenly realizes what a special person Novalyn is and that he can't live without her. He tries several attempts to win her back, but all end either in tears or a fight. Every time Novalyn tries to give him a second chance to prove he loves her, he goes and spends all his time caring for his sick mother, not leaving her for a second. I know you're saying, "What's wrong with that? It just means he loved his mama." But as Novalyn points out, Bob is a grown man who should be leading his own life and being able to let go of his mother and get out once in awhile.

While most movies like these just go on and on about how one person can't live without the other, this one has you wondering if the two will really end up together. And unlike most romances where you're waiting for them to unlock lips, "Wide World" takes many twists and turns in the romance department;you may think you know what's going to happen, but you really don't [unless you already know the complete full story of Howard's life].

The performances by the two leads alone make the movie worth watching;anyone who appreciates good acting should definitely check this one out. Vincent D'Nofrio is amazing, in a performance that would make the real Bob Howard proud I'm sure. He was really overlooked and should have gotten way more recognition for this role. If his other movies are as good as this, it's really sad he doesn't have a more well-known career. There is some justice in the world though, because Renee Zellweger has gone on to become a major star after this part, as she should have. She has a warmth and sincerity that comes across in her acting and makes you root for her the whole time. You often forget she's acting because her delivery is so natural, and she has several emotional scenes to show her depth. I;m a big fan of hers, and this movie didn't disappoint. It's too bad this movie didn't get more recognition, but do yourself a favor and catch it the next time it's on TV. You won't be sorry.

13 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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