A political appointee risks her job and her life to expose corruption.


Roger Donaldson


Peter Maas (book), John Briley (screenplay)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sissy Spacek ... Marie Ragghianti
Jeff Daniels ... Eddie Sisk
Keith Szarabajka ... Kevin McCormack
Morgan Freeman ... Charles Traughber
Fred Thompson ... Fred Thompson
Lisa Banes ... Toni Greer
Trey Wilson ... FBI Agent
John Cullum ... Deputy Attorney General
Don Hood ... Governor Blanton
Graham Beckel ... Charlie Benson
Macon McCalman ... Murray Henderson
Collin Wilcox Paxton ... Virginia
Robert Green Benson III Robert Green Benson III ... Dante Ragghianti
Dawn Carmen Dawn Carmen ... Therese Ragghianti
Shane Wexel Shane Wexel ... Ricky Ragghianti


It's the mid 1970s. Marie Ragghianti left an abusive marriage and moved back home with her mother Virginia in Tennessee to eke out a better life for herself and her three young children. She waited tables, while also completing the degree requirements at Vanderbilt to obtain a B.A. in English and Psychology. She is unapologetic in asking a college acquaintance, Eddie Sisk, for a job, when he is appointed legal counsel for the just-elected governor Ray Blanton. In what he considers a win-win situation, Eddie offers Marie a job as the Extradition Officer for the state, which she accepts. From there, Marie quickly moves up the chain of command, first becoming the liaison to the Governor on Parole Board recommendations - the role which is meant to be a two way street, where there is an understood quid pro quo in recommendations from the Board to the Governor, and from the Governor back to the Board - then becoming the Parole Board Chief. While working in these jobs, Marie becomes more and... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She challenged the state of Tennessee and put criminal justice on trial. See more »


Biography | Drama


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Lawyer and politician Fred Thompson, appearing in this film as himself, launching his acting career with this movie. See more »


The song playing in the nightclub a day or two after her son chokes on the pistachio, is "Honey Honey" by ABBA. That song wasn't recorded until January of 1974, and the screen had previously just read that it was 1973, moments earlier. See more »


Honey Honey
By Benny Andersson (uncredited) and Björn Ulvaeus (uncredited)
Performed by ABBA
Courtesy of Polar Music International AB Sweeden
See more »

User Reviews

good actors
28 June 2019 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

Marie Ragghianti (Sissy Spacek) has enough of her abusive husband. She leaves him taking her three children back home to Tennessee. In 1973, she goes back to school. She gets a job from former classmate Eddie Sisk (Jeff Daniels). The head of the parole board, Charles Traughber (Morgan Freeman), is uncooperative. Bill Thompson is an unscrupulous operator behind the scenes. Sisk tells her to release a prisoner for the sake of a contributor to the Governor. He surprises her by making her the new chairman expecting more cooperation.

Sissy Spacek is great. I kinda remember this story from the news. Jeff Daniels is also great as something more than his normal nice guy. The ending is a little bland. The courtroom has some nice turns but the tension flattens out. More could have been done with Kevin's character. This is a compelling true story with some good acting.

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Official Sites:

HBOMAX [United States]





Release Date:

27 September 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Marie: A True Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Wilmington, North Carolina, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$241,423, 29 September 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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