Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Herbert Ross|
|Produced by||Ray Stark
|Written by||Robert Harling|
|Music by||Georges Delerue|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||117 minutes|
The film is about the bond among a group of women from a parish in the Natchitoches, Louisiana, area. The movie is based on a 1987 play Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, which in turn dealt with the playwright's experience with the death of his sister.
Annelle Dupuy (Daryl Hannah), a recent beauty school graduate, is hired by Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) to work in her home-based beauty salon. M'Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field), a good friend of Truvy's, and her daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts), arrive at Truvy's to prepare for Shelby's wedding, which is taking place later that day. Also arriving at the salon are Ouiser (pronounced "Weezer" or "Weeza") Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine), a grouchy, two-time widow, and Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis), also a widow, who is cheerful and enjoys taking cracks at Ouiser whenever possible. During an argument with her mother over whether or not she should bear a child, Shelby, who has type one diabetes, falls into a state of hypoglycemia, but she recovers quickly with some orange juice provided by her mother and the other women in the salon.
Several months pass, and Shelby announces to her family that she and her husband Jackson (Dylan McDermott) are expecting their first child. The family are thrilled, but M'Lynn is far too worried that Shelby's body may not be able to withstand childbirth to think anything positive about it. Shelby is successfully delivered of a baby boy, Jackson Jr. However, several months later Shelby begins showing signs of kidney failure and starts dialysis. M'Lynn offers to donate a kidney to her daughter and the transplant takes place the day after Jackson Jr's first birthday.
Three to four months following the transplant, Shelby's body rejects the kidney and she collapses into a coma. The doctors inform the family that Shelby is likely to remain comatose indefinitely, and her family and husband jointly decide to remove life support from Shelby. At the funeral, after the other mourners have left, M'Lynn breaks down in hysterics in front of Clairee, Truvy, Annelle and Ouiser, but the other women give support to M'Lynn through humor and love.
Later, at the wake, M'Lynn begins to accept her daughter's death and focuses her energy on helping Jackson raise Jackson Jr. Annelle, who is now married and pregnant, asks M'Lynn if she could name her own baby after Shelby. Months later, on Easter morning, Annelle goes into labor during an Easter egg hunt, is rushed to the hospital and another life begins.
- Sally Field as M'Lynn Eatenton
- Dolly Parton as Truvy Jones
- Shirley MacLaine Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux
- Daryl Hannah as Annelle Dupuy Desoto
- Olympia Dukakis as Clairee Belcher
- Julia Roberts as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie
- Tom Skerritt as Drum Eatenton
- Sam Shepard as Spud Jones
- Dylan McDermott as Jackson Latcherie
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Sammy Desoto
- Bill McCutcheon as Owen Jenkins
- Ann Wedgeworth as Aunt Fern
- Knowl Johnson as Tommy Eatenton
- Jonathan Ward as Jonathan Eatenton
- Ronald Young as Drew Marmillion, Clairee's brother
- Bibi Besch as Belle Marmillion, Drew's wife
- Janine Turner as Nancy-Beth Marmillion, Drew and Belle's daughter; Clairee's niece
- James Wlcek as Marshall Marmillion, Drew and Belle's son; Clairee's nephew
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2011)|
As noted in the Special Features on the Steel Magnolias DVD, the story is based on the death of Robert Harling's younger sister, Susan Harling Robinson, a diabetic. As her best friend and closest sibling, Harling found it difficult to cope with her death. His friends advised him to write about his feelings as a coping method. It began as a short story and evolved into a full-length play due to the complexity of the relationships and emotions that existed within the characters.
Harling felt it important to include the way the characters utilized humor and lighthearted conversations to cope with the seriousness of the underlying situations, Harling wanted the audience to have a true experience of what his family endured during his sister's hospitalization. One of the ways he did this was by employing the nurses, doctors and other hospital staff who worked with his sister as characters in the movie portraying their real-life roles.
Stage play 
The stage play was originally staged Off-Broadway in 1987, and then was produced on Broadway in 2005. All of the action of the play takes place solely on one set — Truvy's beauty salon, which is part of her house. There are only six characters (all female) who appear onstage; a disc jockey's voice is also heard (from a radio in the background) during the play. All the other characters who appear in the film version, such as the males in the ladies' lives, are only referred to in the play's dialogue.
The film was released by Tri-Star Pictures in the United States on November 15, 1989 and grossed more than $83.7 million at the box office. Robert Harling adapted his own play, which was heavily rewritten to incorporate many more characters. It was his first produced screenplay and he also appears in the film as the preacher.
The film starred Dolly Parton as Truvy Jones, Olympia Dukakis as Clairee Belcher, Shirley MacLaine as Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux, Sally Field as M'Lynn Eatenton, Julia Roberts as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie and Daryl Hannah as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto. Roberts received her first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The sets and casting go far beyond the modest means of the original play to include male characters, ensembles and outdoor scenes. The sequence of the action was more tightly linked with major holidays in the film than in the play. Much dialogue was added and several lines in the play were cut or assigned to other characters than originally intended. In addition, Truvy is given only one son instead of two.
The movie received a limited release on November 17, 1989, and entered the us box office at #4, with an opening weekend gross of $5,425,440, when it received a wider release three weeks later it had already grossed $15,643,935. The film stayed in the top 10 for 16 weeks and went onto gross $83,759,091 domestically with a further $12,145,000 in the foreign markets to give a worldwide gross of $95,904,091.
CBS commissioned a television pilot in 1990 in hopes of continuing the story as a weekly half-hour sitcom. The story picked up where the film left off and therefore Shelby was not included in the show. The cast featured Cindy Williams as M’Lynn, Sally Kirkland as Truvy, Elaine Stritch as Ouiser, Polly Bergen as Clairee and Sheila McCarthy as Annelle. CBS declined to pick up the series for the 1990 fall season, although the pilot was broadcast on August 17, 1990. 
Home media 
The film was released on VHS on June 19, 1990 and on DVD July 25, 2000, allowing the film to gross a further $40 million. The movie's overall gross was $135,904,091. The film was released on Blu-Ray through the boutique label, Twilight Time, on September 11, 2012.
On October 10, 2011, Lifetime Television Network announced a remake of the film is planned featuring black actors in the lead roles. Kenny Leon, the director of the 2008 ABC movie A Raisin in the Sun, directed this version. The film was set in Louisiana and starred Queen Latifah as M'Lynn, Jill Scott as Truvy, Alfre Woodard as Ouiser, Phylicia Rashād as Clairee, Adepero Oduye as Annelle, and Condola Rashād as Shelby. 
See also 
- Steel Magnolias on IMDb
- "Steel Magnolias at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Scanlon, J. (2007) "If My Husband Calls I’m Not Here: The Beauty Parlor as Real and Representational Female Space". Feminist Studies, 33 (2)
- "The 62nd Academy Awards (1990) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "VIDEO RENTALS : 'Internal Affairs' Has Appeal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Hilton, Perez. "Steel Magnolias To Be Remade With All-Black Cast". Retrieved 12 October 2011.
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