Monday, March 2, 2015

Places in the Heart: An Oldie but Goodie

Sony Pictures (1984)
I first saw this movie probably in the late 80's (Yes, I’m giving away my age), so it had been around a while even then, since it was made in 1984 and released in September of that year. I recalled loving it at the time, but I had forgotten exactly why, other than that I had enjoyed it immensely, so when I noticed it was playing on Encore the other night, I informed my hubby that I would like to see it. Granted, he was a bit reluctant, probably because, since I recalled loving it, he most likely thought it was some kind of “chick-flick.” Not that he said as much, but I could see it in his eyes. 

Anyway, long story short, we watched Places in the Heart, and no more than 15 minutes into the movie, Chet said, “Honey, this is really good;” and he said it several times thereafter. He also commented upon the “extraordinary” performances of the actors, the “stunning” cinematography, and the “outstanding” sound track. Though it was admittedly difficult, I bit my tongue and refrained from saying, “See, told you so.”

All of that said, this is definitely a see-again movie, and if I live long enough, I will see it again. It’s that good. It’s a beautifully acted, poignant drama that will have you teary-eyed at times and smiling through those tears at other times. It is rated PG-13, however, for language (a few curse words) and violence (none of it graphic), so I wouldn’t recommend it for really young children, though those older than 12 should have no problem with it whatsoever.

Sony Pictures (1984)
Then again, most children that age today are probably too much into computer-generated special effects and pulse-pounding digitally synthesized music to enjoy a film like Places in the Heart. For one, other than the tornado scene, there really aren’t any special effects to speak of and the sound track consists of old-time gospel songs like the ones I grew up singing at Campbellton Baptist Church, for example, “I Come to the Garden Alone,” and “Blessed Assurance.”

Brief Overview of the Storyline

Written and directed by Robert Benson and set in Waxahachie, Texas during the Depression, Places in the Heart tells the story of a young mother’s struggle to survive following the accidental shooting of her husband, the town sheriff, by a young black man, who is later killed by a vigilante mob.

Sony Pictures (1984)
Despite the disapproval of certain members of the community, some of whom belong to the Ku Klux Klan, Edna Spalding (Sally Field) hires a drifter, Moze, played by Danny Glover, to help her plant 30 acres of cotton in order to save the farm from foreclosure and keep her family together. She also takes in a blind boarder, Mr. Will (John Malkovich), who happens to be the brother-in-law of the banker who holds the note on her farm.

Sometimes it’s rather like watching “The Perils of Pauline” because poor Edna has to endure so much, as do Moze, Mr. Will, the children (Frank and Possum), and other characters, for example, Edna’s sister Margaret, whose philandering husband is carrying on with the town’s elementary-school teacher Viola, who just happens to be Margaret’s closest friend. There’s also a tornado (it’s a harrowing scene) and the Ku Klux Klan to contend with, along with the challenge of picking cotton, which is grueling work and can do really nasty things to one’s hands. My hands started to hurt, in fact, just watching them picking that cotton.
Sony Pictures (1984)

I don’t want to give away anything, but be prepared for the movie’s final scene. At first you think it’s really happening—at least I did—but you then realize it’s only a dream, or maybe “fantasy” is a better word, depicting a world where all the characters—friends and enemies, black and white, living and dead—are united and taking communion at the little Baptist church in Waxahachie, Texas. Fantasy or not, though, it is a powerful scene that you will not soon forget.

Cast of Characters

Though there are too many actors to list them all, the main characters include:     

  • Sally Field as Edna Spalding 
  • Danny Glover as Moze 
  • John Malkovich as Mr. Will 
  • Ed Harris as Wayne Lomax 
  • Lindsay Crouse as Margaret Lomax 
  • Ray Baker as Sheriff Royce Spalding 
  • Amy Madigan as Viola Kelsey 
  • Yankton Hatten as Frank Spalding 
  • Gennie James as Possum Spalding 
  • Lane Smith as Albert Denby 
  • Terry O'Quinn as Buddy Kelsey   

Sally Field deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, and Robert Benson won the Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Moreover, though it didn’t win, the movie was nominated for Best Picture, while John Malkovich and Lindsay Crouse were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, and Robert Benson for Best Director. Of course, had I any say in the nominations, Danny Glover would have been nominated for Best Actor, but then, if the decision had been left up to me, Places in the Heart would have won Best Picture of 1985. It’s really that good, so if you haven’t seen it, please do.

Source of Photos: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (1984)

No comments:

Post a Comment