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Dolores Claiborne (1995)

2:17 | Trailer
A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.


Taylor Hackford


Stephen King (book), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathy Bates ... Dolores Claiborne
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Selena St. George
Judy Parfitt ... Vera Donovan
Christopher Plummer ... Detective John Mackey
David Strathairn ... Joe St. George
Eric Bogosian ... Peter
John C. Reilly ... Constable Frank Stamshaw
Ellen Muth ... Young Selena
Bob Gunton ... Mr. Pease
Roy Cooper ... Magistrate
Wayne Robson ... Sammy Marchant
Ruth Marshall ... Secretary
Weldon Allen Weldon Allen ... Bartender
Tom Gallant Tom Gallant ... Searcher
Kelly Burnett Kelly Burnett ... Jack Donovan


Instead of heading to Arizona for her next big story in what has been her illustrious career in her relatively young life, New York based investigative journalist Selena St. George heads to her hometown on a small island just off the coast of Jonesport, Maine upon receiving a fax from an anonymous sender that her mother, Dolores Claiborne, is the only suspect in what looks to be the murder of her wealthy employer of twenty-three years, Vera Donovan. Dolores, who reassumed her maiden name following the death of Selena's father, Joe St. George, started working as one of Vera's domestics upon her moving permanently into what used to be the Donovans' summer house after Jack Donovan's passing, Dolores ultimately moving into the Donovan house full time as her caregiver when Vera required 'round the clock care. Dolores' employment, which was solely to save money for Selena's education, was despite miserly and overly particular Vera only paying a pittance. Selena has been estranged from ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and domestic abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


During the fight scene between Joe and Dolores, Dolores threatens Joe with a stay in Shawshank prison. Shawshank prison is the primary setting for The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which was based on a story by Stephen King. The prison is mentioned in other King stories. Bob Gunton who plays the bank president in this film had previously played Warden Samuel Norton in the film adaptation of "The Shawshank Redemption" the previous year. See more »


The eclipse is dated early in the movie as occurring in 1975. However, according to the NASA Sunsearch database records, there were no solar eclipses (total or annular) on Earth in all of 1975. Additionally, from 1961 to 1980 there were no total eclipses visible in the filming locations. The closest was visible only in the Pacific Northwest in February of 1979. See more »


Dolores Claiborne: Go ahead and take what you want. I ain't doin' any beauty pageants today.
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Night in the Afternoon
Written by Hendrik Muerkens
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User Reviews

Wonderful performances, compelling story
4 February 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Selena St George returns to her Maine island home to be reunited with her estranged mother Dolores. Dolores has been charged with the murder of her long time wealthy employer Vera, and all the evidence points to her guilt. Inspector Mackey leads the investigation, however his view is tainted as he failed to convict Dolores for the murder of her husband Joe, almost 20 years ago - his only unclosed case. As the present murder is investigated the truth about the past is slowly revealed.

How many Hollywood films give good roles to women. Not many - certainly not older women. This stands out because it has three good roles for women and a very strong supporting cast. The story is compelling, the present murder is slowly revealed, while the back story between Dolores, Selena, Joe and Vera is slowly spun out in memories. The various strands are all gripping - the level of detail and back story is excellent. The way the past is weaved into the present is well handled and you never feel like there's too much going on - each strand compliments the others.

The flashbacks are well filmed - each memory is painted bright with sunshine and gaudy colours. Like Selena's memory, it all seems better in hindsight. The present is filmed in pale greys, not even flesh colours come across - everyone looks ashen and grey. The director also deserves praise with the way he blends the present scenes into the past - the camera moves slightly revealing past action. At the end, every story is revealed and it's very satisfying.

As I said, the cast are excellent. If Bates got an Oscar for Misery then she more than deserved one here. She is superb in older and younger roles. She has some annoying habits, mainly the phrases she uses - but she brings out so much hurt, so many layers and so much resentment really well. Jason-Leigh is as good as always and is suitably disturbed - she is very well matched by her younger version, Ellen Muth, who matched Leigh's manner and speech well. Parfitt is an excellent Vera, she has a smaller role but deals with the changes very well. The support cast are all excellent - three stand out. Strathairn is excellent as the abusive Joe, Plummer is great as the cop, who turns out to have as many unresolved issues as Selena. The cast is rounded off by John C Reilly, who is always great.

Overall this is a well-acted compelling story. It lacks the sudden horror of Misery, but is a much more fully developed character piece.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

24 March 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dolores Claiborne See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,721,920, 26 March 1995

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.40 : 1
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