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Steel Magnolias (1989)

0:32 | Trailer
A young beautician, newly arrived in a small Louisiana town, finds work at the local salon, where a small group of women share a close bond of friendship, and welcome her into the fold.


Herbert Ross


Robert Harling (screenplay), Robert Harling (play)
1,089 ( 293)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sally Field ... M'Lynn Eatenton
Dolly Parton ... Truvy Jones
Shirley MacLaine ... Ouiser Boudreaux
Daryl Hannah ... Annelle Dupuy Desoto
Olympia Dukakis ... Clairee Belcher
Julia Roberts ... Shelby Eatenton Latcherie
Tom Skerritt ... Drum Eatenton
Sam Shepard ... Spud Jones
Dylan McDermott ... Jackson Latcherie
Kevin J. O'Connor ... Sammy Desoto
Bill McCutcheon ... Owen Jenkins
Ann Wedgeworth ... Aunt Fern
Knowl Johnson Knowl Johnson ... Tommy Eatenton
Jonathan Ward ... Jonathan Eatenton
Bibi Besch ... Belle Marmillion


Pivoting around the lively Truvy Jones' Louisiana beauty parlour, a tightly-knit band of friends, confront griefs, loss, life's unforeseen tragedies and heartaches with what they do best: gossiping and sharing. The spirited diabetic and bride-to-be, Shelby; her always supportive mother, M'Lynn; Truvy's gawky assistant, Annelle; the city's curmudgeon, Ouiser; and the town's former first lady, Clairee, are the warm Southern belles who know how to survive life's challenges with their unwavering friendship. But when Shelby decides to conceive, things will turn upside down.. Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes laughter is a matter of life and death. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

22 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Steel Magnolias See more »

Filming Locations:

Louisiana, USA See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,425,440, 19 November 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shirley Maclaine and Tom Skerritt played antagonists in this movie. However, they played a married couple in The Turning Point (1976), which was also directed by Herbert Ross. See more »


When M'Lynn is feeding Shelby the orange juice, the level of juice in the class changes from halfway full to empty back to halfway full as the camera changes angles. See more »


M'Lynn: Shelby, as you know, wouldn't want us to get mired down and wallow in this. We should handle it the best way we know how and get on with it. That's what my mind says, I just wish somebody would explain it to my heart.
See more »


Written by Marsha Brown
Performed by Monty Brown (as Monty) and Marsha Brown
Courtesy of Swallow Records
See more »

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User Reviews

An effective enough weepy if you like that sort of thing
13 January 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In a smalltown America town, the lives of a collection of friends revolve around their regular meetings at Turvy's Beauty Parlour. When we join them M'Lynn Eatenton is preparing for her diabetic daughter, Shelby, to be married to lawyer Jackson Latcherie. Meanwhile Turvy takes on a new girl at the saloon in the shape of the religiously uptight Annelle, while the bickering Ouiser and Clairee continually argue in the background. Everything is happy until Shelby decides to have a baby despite the risks that her condition pose – needless to ay M'Lynn is nothing but disapproving and concerned.

I always struggle to write a review when I dip into a genre that I'm really not fond of – I know that my criticisms could be unfair because it could be brilliant but be lost on me. I only watched this film because I read a commentary on Julia Roberts where it noted that she had made it to be a massive star but had a questionable collection of films behind her, without the quality you would expect from her – specifically it mentioned Steel Magnolias so I thought I'd give it a stab to see if that was a fair dig or just a comment by someone who doesn't like the genre anyway. Needless to say that fans of heavily sentimental weepies will be pleased with this star studded affair that never misses a chance to squeeze a laugh or a tear out of you, even if it has to do it with the most forced of devices. The plot can be seen coming a mile off and it never once tries to do anything out of the ordinary. I won't spoil the film but suffice to say that it has fights, making up, love worries, births, death, laughs and tears all in the mix. None of it really engaged me because I felt it was going through the motions but, like I said, if this is your type of thing then by all means.

The characters are also pretty by the numbers – female friends including the bickering ones, the serious one, the hopeful one, the uptight one etc; they are acted well enough but that is basically what they come down to and none of the cast can do enough to make them more than that. Despite this, the cast are pretty good even if they really pander to the material and tone of the film. Roberts made her name in the film with a fairly par for the course performance that is matched by Sally Field just pushing all the emotional buttons at the right times. I didn't like Hannah or her character but Parton is better albeit she just does the same gutsy Texan broad she always does. Dukakis and MacLaine are both enjoyable enough with plenty of amusing lines to reduce the sap. The male actors are all put to one side for the vast majority of the film but support is good from Skerritt, McDermott and Shepard.

Overall I didn't like this film and can understand why the TV networks have taken to running it in the middle of the afternoon, because it fits perfectly with the unimaginative weepies and melodramas that fill those slots. The all star cast do well enough and make it a bit more interesting but generally the material is just too bland and unoriginal and the film relies less on this and more on emotional music, weepy acting and easy action to draw emotions out of the audience by force. I know this stuff has an audience but Steel Magnolias just proved to me that I'm not part of it.

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