7.3/10
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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
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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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
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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:

You're never too old to see things anew. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The nick-name for sea perch fish was "cunners". The dictionary definition for a cunner is "an edible greenish-grey wrasse (fish) which lives along the Atlantic coast of North America". See more »

Goofs

When the radio (or wireless) is switched on in order for Libby to listen to her favourite programme, the sound of the broadcast is heard immediately as though it were a modern transistor or digital radio. But the film is set in the mid-1950s during the era of valve wireless receivers (see also the prop used in the scene), meaning that the ladies would have to wait for several seconds while the set warms up before the programme could be heard. See more »

Quotes

Libby Strong: What are you doing?
Sarah Webber: I'm dusting.
Libby Strong: Busy, busy, busy. Always busy. I wish we were in my house in Philadelphia.
Sarah Webber: Oh, but it's so hot in Philadelphia now.
Libby Strong: I like the heat. It keeps you from being so busy.
Sarah Webber: Well, dear, this is Maine... and this is my house... and somebody has to keep it tidy.
See more »


Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Quiet, contemplative little drama
10 November 2002 | by khatcher-2See all my reviews

This is a delightful piece set on the magnificent shores of New England's Atlantic Ocean, with an absolutely unrepeatable cast. Starring not only Bette Davis and Lilian Gish, alone worth anybody's money, well advanced into the autumn of their years, but also a very welcome Vincent Price, and a magnificent Ann Sothern together with her real daughter, Tisha Sterling.

A slow sensitive story in which each one looks back on life from differing perspectives; as usual, Bette Davis is in a dominating rôle, which, despite her advanced years, carries off quite well; Lillian Gish is just superb, lending that toned-down equanimous nature of hers which pervades the whole atmosphere of the film. And as the film develops around their house and in the garden and on the cliff-tops looking out to sea in earnest attempts to see the whales making their way south, the quiet contemplativeness of the film holds you. This is a film you will cherish and savour long afterwards. Which is why it is in my video collection since 1993 and why IMDb contributors 15 years on are still commenting on this heart-warming piece, half a dozen of them only so far this year.

So as to make a contrast, I suggest that impressive classic 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' (1962), with Bette Davis playing against Joan Crawford: an intense dramatic piece.

Just a few weeks after being invited to the San Sebastián Film Festival – her last public engagement – Bette Davis died, as has Lillian Gish: unrepeatable.


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