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Before Women Had Wings (1997)

TV-14 | | Drama | TV Movie 2 November 1997
A black woman helps a white girl cope with her father's suicide and escape her alcoholic mother's abuse.


Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Glory Marie Jackson
Avocet Abigail 'Bird' Jackson
Phoebe Jackson
Billy Jackson
Louis Ippolito
Hank Jackson
L.J. Ippolito
David Hart ...


Alcoholic Billy reflects on his country-music career that never happened and beats his wife Glory Marie, also a drunk. Grown-up son Hank has moved away, but teenaged Phoebe and sensitive nine-year-old Bird have to live in the bleak alcoholic atmosphere. Problems escalate after a tragic event. The three females move into a trailer where the girls are subjected to a torrent of abuse from their mom. Fortunately, benign Miss Zora appears like a guardian angel to lift their spirits. Written by Anonymous

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Plot Keywords:

alcoholism | child abuse | 1960s | See All (3) »


One of them brought her into this world. The other gave her life.




TV-14 | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

2 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ring of Fire
Written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore
Performed by Johnny Cash
Courtesy of Columbia Records
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User Reviews

Stunning social drama
20 August 2002 | by See all my reviews

A poor working class woman and widow can't handle the suicide of her violent husband and turns her despair violently against her own two daughters. When the younger daughter is seeking friendship with a black neighbor widow, her mother runs amok. This very slow and silent working class family drama is one of the best of its genre that I've seen for a very long time. It's intense, touching, thrilling, although sometimes a bit too "schmaltzy" and teardrop-dominated.

The male actors like Jon Savage and Burt Young are only playing supporting roles in this movie, and the all-female main actors are all brilliant - Ellen Barkin as an alcohol-addicted, children-beating and depressed housewife in one of her best roles, Julia Stiles and Tina Majarino as her suffering children and Oprah Winfrey as the lonely, elderly widow. This is no mainstream nostalgia like "Fried Green Tomatoes" but a breath-taking, silent family drama.

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