44 user 14 critic

Stanley & Iris (1990)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 9 February 1990 (USA)
A struggling widow falls in love with an illiterate short-order cook whom she teaches to read and write in her kitchen each night.


Martin Ritt


Pat Barker (novel), Harriet Frank Jr. (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Fonda ... Iris King
Robert De Niro ... Stanley Cox
Swoosie Kurtz ... Sharon
Martha Plimpton ... Kelly King
Harley Cross ... Richard King
Jamey Sheridan ... Joe
Feodor Chaliapin Jr. ... Leonides Cox (as Feodor Chaliapin)
Zohra Lampert ... Elaine
Loretta Devine ... Bertha
Julie Garfield Julie Garfield ... Belinda
Karen Ludwig ... Melissa
Kathy Kinney ... Bernice
Laurel Lyle Laurel Lyle ... Muriel
Mary Testa ... Joanne
Katherine Cortez ... Jan


Stanley Cox is an illiterate short-order cook who has never taken a chance at love. Iris King is a newly widowed factory worker who has vowed never to love again. Still grieving eight months after her husband's death, she lives from paycheck to paycheck and raises two children. To make ends meet, she rents out space to her sister and brother-in-law who have financial and marital problems as well. Her daughter seeks escape through the company of boys resulting in an out of wedlock pregnancy, which makes matters worse. However, as their friendship slowly blossoms and Iris helps Stanley learn to read, his strong yet gentle kindness helps mend her broken heart. And where two lonely strangers stood trapped within the past, Stanley and Iris can now begin a new chapter of their lives - together. Written by MGM/UA Home Video

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Two ordinary people. One extraordinary love story. See more »


Drama | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


After completing this film, Jane Fonda took a fifteen year hiatus from acting until Monster-in-Law (2005). See more »


When Stanley returns from Detroit, his car is shown to have a Michigan license plate on the front of the vehicle. Unlike many states that issue license plates for both the front and rear of the vehicle. Michigan issues plates for the rear of the vehicle only. See more »


Iris King: You live at home with your father, you do you own cooking, and you're not married. I that the whole story?
Stanley Cox: I'm think that's about as much as I'm gonna talk about.
See more »

User Reviews

rather undramatic
1 February 2015 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

Iris King (Jane Fonda) is recently widowed and working at the bakery factory. Money is tight. Her purse is stolen and Stanley Cox (Robert De Niro) helps her. He's an illiterate cook at the factory canteen. She has two kids Kelly (Martha Plimpton) and Richard. Her unemployed sister Sharon (Swoosie Kurtz) and her no-good husband Joe (Jamey Sheridan) are staying with her. Kelly reveals that she's pregnant. Iris and Stanley start hanging out together and she finds out his secret. She lets the cat out of the bag to his boss and he's fired. He's left with menial work and forced to leave his father in an old-age home. When his father dies, he can't even spell the name for the death certificate. He asks her to teach him how to read.

The story has a lot of tough things going on for these poor people. The problem is that it's done with little drama. Both Fonda and De Niro are going low key with their performances. The romance is a slow boil. The movie doesn't hit big points hard or stay with them. The first big move is Joe hitting Sharon. Yet there is little follow up with them. Kelly is pregnant but that's another side trip. The most compelling part of the movie is the illiteracy but I'm not impressed with them transitioning to a romance. The acting is solid but it's all done without much tension or drama.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

9 February 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Letters See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,102,831, 11 February 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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