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Dolores Claiborne (1995)

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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.

Director:

Taylor Hackford

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathy Bates ... Dolores Claiborne
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Selena St. George
Judy Parfitt ... Vera Donovan
Christopher Plummer ... Det. John Mackey
David Strathairn ... Joe St. George
Eric Bogosian ... Peter
John C. Reilly ... Const. Frank Stamshaw
Ellen Muth ... Young Selena
Bob Gunton ... Mr. Pease
Roy Cooper 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
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Storyline

Dolores Claiborne works as a maid for a wealthy woman in remote Maine. When she is indicted for the elderly woman's murder, Dolores' daughter Selena returns from New York, where she has become a big-shot reporter. In the course of working out the details of what has happened, as well as some shady questions from the past and Selena's troubled childhood, many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife. This is cleverly portrayed with present reality shot in cool blue tones blending seamlessly into flashbacks shot in vivid color. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewers.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 March 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dolores See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,721,920, 26 March 1995

Gross USA:

$24,361,867

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$24,361,867
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.40 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A fire on the set in Nova Scotia, Canada, caused one million dollars' damage. See more »

Goofs

When Selena reveals her secret to Dolores on the ferry boat, another boat passes by which uses Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS did not become commercially available until the mid-1980's. See more »

Quotes

Vera Donovan: [Dolores is crying in front of Vera in the drawing room] I insist that all women who have hysterics in my drawing room call me by my Christian name.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Secret Window (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Days Are Here Again
Written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Very successful film
10 November 2004 | by kintopf432See all my reviews

Kathy Bates made quite an impact, so to speak, on the movie-going public with her bravura performance in another Stephen King adaptation, 'Misery.' But showy (and fun) as that role was, it wasn't really much of an acting part--the real heavy lifting in that film was done by James Caan in his quieter, subtler role as the object of Bates's affection.

In 'Dolores Claiborne,' Bates finally gets a King role fully worthy of her range and subtlety. She pulls off the age transformations beautifully--I actually wondered at times whether young Dolores or old Dolores was closer to her real age. She still gets to have fun with King's trademark Maine dialect ('Now you listen to me, Mr. Grand High Poobah of Uppah Buttcrack!' is a line that gets me every time), but she never goes too far, and her every gesture tells of her great loves for her daughter and her friend, without ever exaggerating or sentimentalizing them. It's a remarkable performance, and the actress is probably right to remember it as her best role.

The rest of the film into which the performance fits creaks a bit in places (the final melodramatic scene at the hearing is pretty hokey), and it's complicated somewhat by Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance, which may be *too* good--her Selena comes off as so angry and selfish that we don't particularly *want* her to reconcile with her mother. But overall, the film's an artistic success, done in a classic American style, and using the simple but effective device of changing the color scheme to ease us from the present to the past.

The supporting cast more than stands up to Bates, too. Judy Parfitt is all too believable as Vera Donovan, especially in her younger incarnation--those of us who grew up in tourist towns are very familiar with this kind of harpy queen who comes to town and sets up shop for good. But the part isn't a simple caricature--those tears of anger and pride that Vera cries for Dolores and her daughter feel very real indeed. Christopher Plummer, with his mushy red nose and schoolteacher's diction, overdoes it a bit, perhaps, but it basically goes with the character he's been given. And David Strathairn's Joe St. George surely deserves a high place in the canon of Stephen King movie villains. Strathairn makes him as bad as can be, and yet there's occasionally a playful touch that *almost* makes us see why Dolores married him in the first place.

In the end, a rather underrated film, successful on many levels. 8.5. out of 10.


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