7.3/10
3,950
54 user 27 critic

The Whales of August (1987)

Not Rated | | Drama | 19 August 1987 (France)
Two aged sisters reflect on life and the past during a late summer day in Maine.

Director:

Lindsay Anderson

Writers:

David Berry (screenplay), David Berry (play)
Reviews
Popularity
914 ( 8,237)

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A woman who left home 20 years ago under acrimonious circumstances finds out that she is terminally ill. She returns home and tries to rebuild her relationship with her embittered mother ... See full summary »

Director: Milton Katselas
Stars: Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, Ford Rainey
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

A mother/daughter pair of witches descend on a yuppie family's home and cause havoc, one at a time since they share one body & the other must live in a cat the rest of the time. Now it's up... See full summary »

Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Bette Davis, Barbara Carrera, Colleen Camp
As Summers Die (TV Movie 1986)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The plot centers around a large area of land owned by an old black lady, Elvira Backus. It had been given to her by her one time employer and secret father of her two children, a southern ... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Claude Tramont
Stars: Scott Glenn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bette Davis
Right of Way (TV Movie 1983)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A dying woman and her husband agree to a joint-suicide pact, whether others like it or not.

Director: George Schaefer
Stars: Bette Davis, James Stewart, Melinda Dillon
White Mama (TV Movie 1980)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A poor, elderly white woman living in a tenement in a black ghetto is befriended by a neighborhood boy, and the two of them form a mutually beneficial relationship: he provides her ... See full summary »

Director: Jackie Cooper
Stars: Bette Davis, Ernest Harden Jr., Eileen Heckart
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh
A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (TV Movie 1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An elderly widow must find meaning and activity in her life when her son suggests she is no longer capable of handling her own affairs.

Director: George Schaefer
Stars: Bette Davis, Penny Fuller, Christopher Guest
Way Back Home (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Phillips Lord, Effie Palmer, Frank Albertson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Explores the relationships shared by the residents of a seedy boarding house in London.

Director: Franklin Gollings
Stars: Bette Davis, Michael Redgrave, Alexis Kanner
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Mary Donnell, a young legal secretary with a past, elopes with a client's son, but his father has the marriage annulled without knowing she's pregnant.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Anita Louise
Bunny O'Hare (1971)
Certificate: GP Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Bunny is a penniless widow who blackmails a robber into teaching her the trade. Soon the pair starts a successful crime spree, and the cops aren't turning a blind eye.

Director: Gerd Oswald
Stars: Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Cassidy
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Jailbird is hired to lead a dimwitted candidate's campaign for governor.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Warren William, Bette Davis, Guy Kibbee
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Libby Strong
Lillian Gish ... Sarah Webber
Vincent Price ... Mr. Maranov
Ann Sothern ... Tisha Doughty
Harry Carey Jr. ... Joshua Brackett
Frank Grimes ... Mr. Beckwith
Margaret Ladd ... Young Libby
Tisha Sterling ... Young Tisha
Mary Steenburgen ... Young Sarah
Frank Pitkin Frank Pitkin ... Old Randall
Mike Bush Mike Bush ... Young Randall
Edit

Storyline

It's August. Like they have most summers, elderly widowed sisters Libby Strong and Sarah Webber, who live in Philadelphia, are staying together in the family's summer cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. The cottage, which now belongs to Sarah, has been in their family most of their lives, was the family's summer getaway from Philadelphia when they were younger. There are a few people who have been friends or acquaintances on the island, including the outspoken Tisha Dought, and Joshua Brackett. Someone new at least to Sarah's social circle is Mr. Maranov, a former Russian aristocrat. His stay on the island is threatened when his landlady, Hilda Partridge, passes away. Sarah and Libby have come to the realization they are in the respective twilight of their lives, Sarah, who still keeps busy and wants to savor life's pleasures, acts as now sightless, cantankerous and bitter Libby's caregiver. Sarah knows she can no longer take care of Libby. As such, Sarah has to make ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Screen's Immortals... A movie you'll never forget. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 August 1987 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

As Baleias de Agosto See more »

Filming Locations:

Maine, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,338,198

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,338,198
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nelson Entertainment See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Black and White (flashbacks)| Color (TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Penultimate theatrical feature film of actress Bette Davis whose final picture would be Wicked Stepmother (1989). See more »

Goofs

When Sarah blows out the candle, the supplementary light from above stays on a beat or two longer before going out. See more »

Quotes

Sarah Webber: Oh, I couldn't burden you with my troubles.
Tisha Doughty: [scoffs] Half of life is troubles, Sarah. The other half's gettin' over 'em.
See more »


Soundtracks

Roses of Picardy
(uncredited)
Music by Haydn Wood
Lyrics by Frederick Edward Weatherly
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A Golden Tribute
25 July 2002 | by Rainsford55See all my reviews

I will attempt to be as impartial as possible in my review, but right from the outset, I do believe that the flaw in this magnificently presented ‘tribute' is not in the actresses (as most commentary' seem to be intent – particularly on Davis), but in the film itself.

Libby (Davis) provides with gusto a controlled, deep and thoughtful portrayal of ageing that has soured with time. Hating being dependent on anyone, she has to rely heavily on her sister Sarah (Gish) because of her physical limitations and her near blindness. She provides the backbone to this gentle fable and without her strength we would have little to learn from. Her solo scene in her bedroom with her late husbands clip of hair, is touching and heart-warming. Here she is photographed superbly and you come away from this shot reassured that there is timeless and unconditional love still around us in the world somewhere. If there is one fault in her overall performance, it is her first scene, where appearing to almost glow in the dark like a ghostly image, wanting to convey to us her blindness, she relies heavily upon her trademark hand and eye movement, for which she is renowned for instead of allowing us to observe more gently the introduction of Libby Strong.

Gish stands out as truly magnificent. Her denial of an `Oscar' nomination for Best Actress is a sad fact, for if ever she earned it in the last twenty or so years, this was the one. Her expressions and reactions to her fellow characters are without blemish. We feel for `Sarah' and are delighted when she gets her picture window. Not solely for the ‘picture window' but more for the fact that `Libby' shows her first sign in possibly many years of not giving in to death. Gish also carries her solo scene effortlessly when celebrating alone, her beloved husband Philip's memory on their 46th Wedding Anniversary. It's beautiful and elegant.

Sothern, Carey Jr. and Price add substantial weight to their respective supporting performances and they also give us a little uplift when the ‘spirits' almost seemed to be weighing down with age. Sothern, though, appears too young for the storyline though in fact she wasn't. Price is grand. His ‘sponge' is likeable and meticulously interpreted; though I was always glad when his part had finished, I wanted back to the ladies. Carey Jr. could have hung around a bit longer. He was a delight in his too few scenes. He gave it a charge. Davis and Carey Jr. where a good match – I must say!!

The fault as far as I'm concerned lay in the storyline and the static photography with the conversation pieces. We didn't need the real estate scene and we could have had more in depth conversation between Sarah and Libby alone. The hand held photograph viewer scene was the perfect opportunity for a journey into the realm of their respected lives – the sad moment and the happier moment. Again it escaped us on the shoreline when seated on an upturned dinghy. A breath of fresh air, from the almost claustrophobic feel of being confined to and around Sarah's home, beautiful though it was – this was cinema after all.

Then there is the cinematography. Heavily reliant upon editing, the camera didn't seem to have any interest in following the cast nor the story. It broke off as if bored to show us ‘Sothern' picking a berry from a bowl, then upon approval, taking it to share with the others. The entrance back inside the house after their walk to the edge (Gish and Sothern), broke off from Davis hanging her coat to seating herself, when I feel that we could have had more interest for the viewer if we could have done that in a single take. Some POV shots from the arm of the Libby's armchair or her pondering over the ocean when recalling the November chill in her bones (remembering her late husbands passing) to see the scene as she could only feel it and not seen it, could all have been handled better – much better. These are only two of the faults as I have seen them.

Anderson deserves much credit for allowing this opportunity see the light of day in such a ‘commercial' day and age. And also some of his handling is gentle and sensitive. However it is obvious that he holds a long held passion for `Lillian Gish' in her hey day and this somewhat overshadows the whole project – a deserved as it may be. When you consider the wealth of talent dabbling in their shallow pool of opportunity, you can't help but wish that they had made more of their Whale of an opportunity and given us something deeper for the Whales of August to dive away into.

Still…. it's a golden tribute to America's greatest. Thank you Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Sothern, Carey Jr. and Price. It's well worth the 88 minutes of watching time, just to see you on the screen where you always belonged.


32 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 54 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed