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Curse of the Starving Class (1994)

Sam Shepard's coming of age drama about a dirt-poor 1950's-era farm family. Dad's a foul talking drunk, and Mom is desperately trying to save what's left of their family life.


J. Michael McClary


Bruce Beresford (screenplay), Sam Shepard (from the stage play by)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Woods ... Weston Tate
Kathy Bates ... Ella Tate
Randy Quaid ... Taylor
Henry Thomas ... Wesley Tate
Kristin Fiorella Kristin Fiorella ... Emma Tate
Louis Gossett Jr. ... Ellis
Jim Fitzpatrick ... Emerson (as James Fitzpatrick)
Joel Anderson Joel Anderson ... Slater
Lauren Abels Lauren Abels ... Taylor's Assistant
John Cannon Nichols John Cannon Nichols ... Des
Jerry Biggs Jerry Biggs ... Policeman
David McDavid David McDavid ... Will
Gary Mitchell Carter Gary Mitchell Carter ... Weston's Buddy #1 (as Gary Carter)
Peyton E. Park Peyton E. Park ... Weston's Buddy #2 (as Peyton Park)
Del Roy Del Roy ... Ellis' Buddy
Learn more

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This cinema version of the Sam Shepard play is set well after the mid-century. James Woods as the alcoholic farmer drives a huge beater with a rusted roof which is emblematic of the general disrepair of his farm. A lovingly tended lamb with maggots is the reverse emblem of something helpless, needy and cared for. The refrigerator is spoken to as a character, as if standing in for absent nurturing from Woods' self-centered wife. The couple have two kids who must come of age as their home is being torn apart around them and the parents pursue fantasies of "better things" offered by crook Randy Quaid. Henry Thomas as the son copes by holding on to the land and creating a poetic commentary, and the responses of his sister to the crisis become a powerful and surprising tribute to womanhood. Written by <abbyskl@earthling.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and for a scene of nudity | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


James Woods and Randy Quaid appeared in Next Door (1994). See more »


Weston Tate: Now I've got all figured out. See, the only way a curse sticks is if you let it.
See more »


Referenced in Breaking News (2008) See more »


The Long Slow Slide
Written by Randy Erwin-Skalicky
Performed by Cafe Noir
Orchestrated by Norbert Gerl
Published by Carpe Diem Record/BMI
Copyright 1993
See more »

User Reviews

Have you read the play?
9 February 2004 | by SalgirlSee all my reviews

This message mainly goes out to satisil2. Have you read the play? Nothing happens. That's it. It just goes and goes and goes. . . Not to say I didn't enjoy it, I'm quite a Sam Shepered fan, myself (for a real thrill, watch True West)but that's how his plays are. It's more about the characters than the plot. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. Pretty good depiction of the dirt poor (or starving class, as one may call it)

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Release Date:

5 May 1995 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Al otro lado del paraíso See more »

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA


Box Office


$12,577,385 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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