Before Women Had Wings

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Before Women Had Wings
Wings 1997 film dvd.jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Lloyd Kramer
Produced by Jay Benson
Oprah Winfrey
Written by Connie May Fowler
Starring Ellen Barkin
Oprah Winfrey
Tina Majorino
Julia Stiles
John Savage
Burt Young
William Lee Scott
Louis Crugnali
David Hart
Music by Anton Sanko
Cinematography Ericson Core
Edited by Stephen Semel
Distributed by ABC
Release date
2 November, 1997 (USA)
26th October, 1997 (Canada)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Before Women Had Wings is a 1997 television film, based on the story by Connie May Fowler about a mother whose abusive husband commits suicide. She then starts to violently abuse her two daughters. It is only then that a kindly black woman becomes good friends with her youngest daughter and helps the daughter escape her tortured life. The film stars Ellen Barkin, Oprah Winfrey, Tina Majorino, and Julia Stiles. Barkin won an Emmy for her role.


Life is hard for Avocet Abigale 'Bird' Jackson (Tina Majorino) and her sister Phoebe (Julia Stiles), constantly putting up with their parents' arguments. Their father, Billy (John Savage) is always beating their mother Glory Marie (Ellen Barkin) and every time things seem to go right between Glory Marie and Billy, yet another argument begins. Unable to put up with it any longer Glory Marie tells Billy she's taking the girls and leaving him. He punches her and knocks her teeth out, then drives off in the car. Later that evening a policeman (David Hart) shows up at the door to tell them that Billy has killed himself.

Set on starting a new life, Glory Marie takes her daughters and moves to a motel in Florida, where she gets a job as a bookkeeper in the motel office run by Louis Ippolito (Burt Young). They move into an old trailer because there are no rooms. Bird becomes friends with a kind black woman named Zora Williams (Oprah Winfrey) whom Glory Marie warns her to stay away from. Glory Marie begins to drink heavily, and beats Phoebe with a brush for staying out late with Louis' son L.J (Louis Crugnali). She later hits Bird on the head with a mug for asking for a bike for Christmas. Glory Marie's estranged son Hank (William Lee Scott) comes to visit for Christmas, as he left home because of his parents and there is still some friction between them. Bird spends more and more time with Zora, behind Glory Marie's back, and realizes there can be a better life for her. Phoebe finally stands up to Glory Marie when she calls Phoebe a tramp for the way she's dressed and slaps her, Phoebe slaps her back.

Glory Marie eventually discovers that Bird has been visiting Zora and violently beats her with a belt and leaves. Phoebe takes her to Zora. When Glory Marie returns the next morning she barges into Zora's and demands her daughters come back with her, but Zora has a word with her and tells her she understands. When her husband died she ignored her daughter, but she never hit her, and she is going to see her daughter again, but she is not going anywhere until she knows Glory Marie's daughters are safe. Glory Marie makes the hardest decision of her life when she decides to send her daughters away with Zora. On their last day together, Glory Marie makes them dinner, washes folds, and packs all their clothes and she brushes Bird's hair, with the same brush she used to beat Phoebe. When the girls leave with Zora, Bird is unsure if she will ever see her mother again.


Ellen Barkin as Glory Marie Jackson
Oprah Winfrey as Zora Williams
Tina Majorino as Avocet Abigale 'Bird' Jackson
Julia Stiles as Phoebe Jackson
John Savage as Billy Jackson
Burt Young as Louis Ippolito
William Lee Scott as Hank Jackson
Louis Crugnali as L.J. Ippolito
David Hart as The Sheriff


Year Result Award Category
1998 Nominated Aritos Best Casting for TV Movie of the Week - Francine Maisler
1998 Won Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie - Ellen Barkin
1998 Nominated Golden Globe Award Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV - Ellen Barkin
1998 Won Golden Satellite Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television - Ellen Barkin
1998 Nominated Young Artist Award Best Performance in a TV Movie/Pilot/Mini-Series/Made-for-TV Movie - Tina Majorino
1998 Nominated YoungStar Award Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Mini-Series/Made-for-TV Movie - Tina Majorino

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