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The Grass Harp (1995)

PG | | Drama, Comedy | 11 October 1996 (USA)
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After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city ... See full summary »

Director:

Charles Matthau

Writers:

Truman Capote (novel), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Piper Laurie ... Dolly Talbo
Sissy Spacek ... Verena Talbo
Walter Matthau ... Judge Charlie Cool
Edward Furlong ... Collin Fenwick
Nell Carter ... Catherine Creek
Jack Lemmon ... Dr. Morris Ritz
Mary Steenburgen ... Sister Ida
Sean Patrick Flanery ... Riley Henderson
Joe Don Baker ... Sheriff Junius Candle
Charles Durning ... Rev. Buster
Roddy McDowall ... Amos Legrand
Grayson Fricke Grayson Fricke ... Young Collin
Scott Wilson ... Eugene Fenwick
Bonnie Bartlett ... Mrs. Buster
Mia Kirshner ... Maude Riordan
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Storyline

After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city slicker comes to town and convinces Verena to market Dolly's locally-famous tonic, Dolly finally gets some backbone, refuses to divulge the formula, and heads for a tree house with Collin and Catherine, the loyal maid. Verena, who has most of the town in her pocket, sics the law on the renegades. Dolly, Catherine, and Collin find a supporter in a retired judge, Charlie Cool, who's attracted to Dolly. Will Verena's venom win out? And what about that city slicker? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Life's Best Adventures Are Journeys Of The Heart. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fine Line Features

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El arpa de hierba See more »

Filming Locations:

Wetumpka, Alabama, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$117,161, 13 October 1996

Gross USA:

$559,771

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$559,771
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final filmed screenplay written by Stirling Silliphant. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Peters: Shame on you Dolly Talbo, sittin up in that tree like a drunken Indian, smoking on cigarettes like a common... Floozy
Mrs. Buster: Floozy
Catherine Creek: Preacher lady don't you be callin Ms. Dolly here no floozy now, why I come down there and slap you bow-legged.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Be That Way
Written by Benny Goodman, Edgar M. Sampson, Mitchell Parish
Performed by Benny Goodman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nice Story
4 March 2007 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

"The Grass Harp" (1995) will remind a lot of viewers of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Not a huge surprise given that both stories involve Truman Capote's childhood (Harper Lee based the Dill Harris character on Capote). Both films also use small Alabama towns for their locations.

Capote loosely based his 1951 "The Grass Harp" novella on the eccentric maiden cousins of his childhood. For the film Piper Laurie plays good Aunt Dolly and Sissy Spacek bad Aunt Verena (who is even less likable than Pollyanna's Aunt Polly). Spacek gets to do something out of character and nicely underplays this one. Laurie gets to have even more fun and turns in a joyful performance. She is a little too good to be true but Laurie manages to sell the character with a remarkable performance. In the 1950's Laurie was an extremely pretty (and hot) young starlet but it is obvious from this and her performance in "Carrie" (playing Spacek's mother) that there was a lot of substance in that pretty package.

Edward Furlong (best know as John Conner in "Terminator 2") avoids the "Pollyanna" trap and is pretty easy to take. The coming-of-age side of the story works quite well.

"The Grass Harp" is a bit underrated, probably because the screenplay fails to capture the lyrical quality of Capote's storytelling, giving the viewer a surfeit of sentimentality compounded by a too sweet score. The title is a reference to the musical sound of blowing grass, a metaphor about intergenerational connections and the primary theme of the story.

The film would have benefited from a little more restraint. This is not a fatal flaw but the film would have been more powerful with Mockingbird's toned down production design and less colorful characters; maybe even going so far as to release it in black and white.

Those looking for action adventure and hot romance should look elsewhere. But there are a lot of "Mockingbird" fans out there who should really enjoy "The Grass Harp".

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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