Stephanie Billen tackles the bosom-buddies cast of Steel Magnolias; plus Renegades, Glory. Dancin’
Thru’ the Dark, Let’s Get Lost and more.
INDEX: 18 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 25 WEEK TWO 26
Stephanie Billen meets the cast of Steel Magnolias and finds them less than riveting.
If there is anything more humiliating than being savaged by a dead sheep it is probably the experience ofcoming out of a film and realising you‘ve been emotionally manipulated by a bunch ofSindy dolls.
Steel Magnolias is the story of a bevy of Southern belles who support each other with a combination of hugs and wisecracks. Just when you thought the film had nowhere else to go — we‘ve had ample local colour. we‘ve had the big wedding and we‘ve had it up to here with scenes
inside the hairdresser‘s salon — there comes the Terms ofEndearrnent style twist. Diabetes and death are just around the corner. though thankfully the funeral is not as overblown as every other social occasion in the film.
As it happens. Steel Magnolias is based on a true story. Writer Robert Harling originally wrote a New York stage play about a group of women friends and the death of his sister aged 33 after she risked her health by having a baby. Although the protagonists have been made younger to embrace newcomer Julia Roberts as the ill-fated Shelby and Sally Field as her mother. much of the film‘s ornate preposterousness is said to be true. In Nachitoches. Louisana. Harling‘s
1 home town and where the film was shot. people
really do dress like Dolly Parton. ‘A lot ofpeople
see the film and saythere couldn‘t possibly be 1
that many flowers. but there are. and those were
all the town‘s local people wearing their own
clothes. . . ‘says Harling.
Partly (so the cast would have you believe)
because of the ever-present loving spirit of
Harling‘s sister. and partly. it must be said.
because of the film‘s benefits to the town's
economy. the local people took the production
team very much to their bosom. Bouquets and
food appeared from nowhere and according to
Olympia Dukakis. a sign supporting her
husband‘s campaign popped up in the garden ofa !
known Republican. ‘lt seemed a neighbourly I
thingto do‘. the well-wisher explained. |
The Magnolias who have made it to London — Dukakis. Julia Roberts. Daryl Hannah and Robert Harling— positively radiate warmth and fellowship. Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts are like school-girls together. Hannah is absurdly . nervous. giggling underapunky mane ofshaggy ' hair as she fields questions from the slavering press such as: ‘Where did you get that jumper?‘. I ‘Did you learn anything about hair'?‘ and ‘Did you mind playing the dork?‘ Daryl seems to mind I
nothing. although persistent questioning about
her hair becomes a little wearisome: ‘Was your hair its natural colour?‘ — ‘No. it was a wig. several wigs‘ — ungracious pause - ‘How long have you been blonde'." — 'All my life‘. Luckily Julia Roberts renders further discussion impossible by picking up a strand of the peroxide-style looks and declaring cryptically: 'You don't get this out of a bottle!’ (‘learly this is friendship indeed and the team was lyrical about the lovely time they had with each other making the film. Even cracks about Shirley MacLaine are kept to a minimum (Dukakis darkly: ‘Shirley had plenty ofsuggestions. . .' Harling smoothly: ‘Yes. but always good . . .‘)
Britons are suspicious of this sort of happiness and at one stage. Quentin Falk. the chairman of the press conference. questions whether the writer‘s experience ofworking with a Hollywood producer (Ray Stark) and director (Herbert Ross) was always ‘as wonderful as it all seems.‘ For a moment it looks as if Olympia Dukakis is about to blow the gaff. Cackling. she begins: ‘Oh. tell about the walking back and forth biting your lip. . .‘ Harling titters: ‘Walking back and forth?‘ ‘I saw you! Don‘t you remember that? You‘ve got to tell them about that. Otherwise they won‘t believe us. Unless you tell them something difficult. they won‘t buy any of this? They‘ll think it‘s too sugary!‘
Needless to say. Harling tells nothing. admitting only to minor anxiety on what was otherwise a ‘dream trip‘ for him. As if in apology for so much schmaltz he tells the press about his new script for Paramount called Soap Dish about day-time soaps. ‘It‘s edgy and brittle and wickedly funny . . . Steel Magnolias was all about the warm and wonderful people I knew back home. Soap Dish is about New Yorkers.‘
Steel Magnolias opens on Fri 9 at Glasgow Cannon The Forge and Grosvenor; at all Odeons, and at both UCls.
_ ? Phone ' Fatale
ll llim-noir and manic gloom is your screen scene, then Maggie
Greenwald’s adaptation oi The Kill-Oil
ls loryou. This is not the lirst time Hollywood has converted a Jim Thompson crime novel into celluloid, but previous ettorts like Peckinpah’s The Getaway (1972) have, according to Greenwald, been stripped bare oi Thompson's typically downbeat touch, and so imbuing The Kill-Oil with a grim sense at helplessness became a ’ priority. ‘I don’t think I put much hope
her Into a telephone torturer
these people’s lives.’
' into It, butto me llndlng a movie
. depressing Isn’t a criticism!’
Set in winter In a dying East Coast
American beach resort, llle Is made all the more hellish by bedridden demon Luane Devore (Loretta Gross), whose lust tor control over people’s lives turns
manipulativer spreading malicious rumours and gossip. Having previously failed in her ellorts to get another
Thompson project roiling, itwas this central character at Luane that
‘ attracted Greenwald to The Kill-Oil. ‘I was fascinated by this woman who was an invalid,’ she explains, ‘who never left her house but managed to wield this incredible amount of power over
Influenced at a glance by Scorsese
and the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, the film’s bleak, sterile environment , appealed to hervlsual sense, but the | llnal leel oi the piece is rooted In both
the modest budget and Thompson's original narrative structure, which Greenwald to some extent retained. ‘The Kill-Oil is unconventional in that It has a split point at view. It's out of keeping with the conventional, supposedly entertaining way oi telling a story.’ This much is true, but the overall etlect, emphasised bythe stark cinematography and a tight theatrical cast of raw intensity, is hypnotic to watch and thoroughly recommended. (Dylan Matthew)
The Kill-Oil (18) is at Edinburgh
. Filmhouse lrom Wed 21 to Sat 24
The List 9 — 22 March I990 15