Places in the Heart

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Places in the Heart
Places in the Heart (1984), poster.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Robert Benton
Produced by Arlene Donovan
Written by Robert Benton
Music by John Kander
Cinematography Néstor Almendros
Edited by Carol Littleton
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
September 21, 1984
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9.5 million
Box office $34,901,614

Places in the Heart is a 1984 American drama film written and directed by Robert Benton about a U.S. Depression-era Texas widow who tries to save the family farm with the help of a blind white man and a black man. It stars Sally Field, Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, John Malkovich, Danny Glover, and Terry O'Quinn. It was filmed in Waxahachie, near Dallas, Texas.


1935 Waxahachie, Texas is segregated. Sheriff Royce Spalding leaves the family dinner to investigate trouble at the rail yards, and dies after being accidentally shot by a young black boy, Wylie, who is dragged behind a truck of white vigilantes for all the community to see, including Spalding's family.

Edna Spalding has a family to raise and farm to maintain especially with the pressure coming from her sister and brother-in-law about having to come to terms with their new conditions. The cotton crop is planted and the bank has a note on the farm; money is scarce and the price for cotton is decreasing. There is work for the a black drifter and handy-man Moze but no money, so Edna offers him a meal. He makes off with some of her silver spoons.

Edna is set on keeping both the family together and the farm. in Moze is caught with the stolen silver but Edna decides there is more to gain from the situation because of what he knows about growing and marketing cotton so she will forgive the thief's transgression and hire him. The frustrated banker has a disadvantaged brother-in-law, Will, who becomes a lodger at Edna's farm. He has been blinded in the war.

Edna sees the possibility of winning the Ellis County prize of $100 for the first bale of cotton brought to market but more pickers will be needed and they can be paid only if the prize is won. Edna sees that everyone recognize just what needs to be done for everyone to win including the blind Will cooking food especially for the feeding of the hired workers.

Edna and Moze are first in line at the wholesaler and lets the owner know that if he did not see that she got a good price for her crop that another wholesaler would be pleased to have the distinction of buying the crop that wins the prize as her husband had been the winner for such a long run.

That night Moze is accosted by Klan members, but is rescued by Will, who recognizes all their voices. Reluctantly, Moze moves on. Viola Kelsey ends her affair with Edna's brother-in-law when she departs with her husband, Buddy, for Houston. The movie ends, as it began, in church. Wayne passes communion to Margaret and it's passed from character to character from the movie, both living and dead. The last words are “Peace of God” spoken by the black boy Wylie to the Sheriff he had accidentally killed.



The film features a performance by 1930s Western Swing musician Cliff Bruner.


Places in the Heart was met with critical acclaim, earning a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 96% based on 26 reviews with the consensus: "Places in the Heart is a quiet character piece with grand ambitions that it more than fulfills, thanks to absorbing work from writer-director Robert Benton and a tremendous cast."


In 1985, when Sally Field reached the lectern to accept her second Oscar (the first was for Norma Rae), she uttered the memorable (and much-mocked) line, "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" It is often misremembered as, "You like me—you really like me!"

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Arlene Donovan Nominated
Best Director Robert Benton Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Actress Sally Field Won
Best Supporting Actor John Malkovich Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lindsay Crouse Nominated
Best Costume Design Ann Roth Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture – Drama Arlene Donovan Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Sally Field Won
Best Screenplay Robert Benton Nominated
Silver Bear Best Director[1] Won


  1. ^ "Berlinale: 1985 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-01-08. 

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