The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond

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The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jodie Markell
Produced by Brad Michael Gilbert
Robbie Kass
Brad Stokes
Roxanna Raanan
Written by Tennessee Williams (Screenplay)
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard
Chris Evans
Ellen Burstyn
Jennifer Sipes
Music by Mark Orton
Cinematography Giles Nuttgens
Edited by Barry Malkin
Distributed by Screen Media Films
Release dates
  • September 12, 2008 (2008-09-12) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • December 30, 2009 (2009-12-30) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is a 2008 independent film by director Jodie Markell. The film is based on Tennessee Williams' long-forgotten 1957 screenplay. The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard in the leading role of Fisher Willow.


The film tells the story of heiress Fisher Willow (Bryce Dallas Howard). Fisher returns home from overseas to find that her father has become a hated man in Memphis as he had intentionally blown up the southern half of his levee earlier that year, resulting in the deaths of 8-9 people and enormous property damage for anyone downstream. Fisher is to come out to society this season, but because of her father's reputation – and her inappropriate/wild behavior – she is unable to find a man willing to be her escort. She asks Jimmy (Chris Evans) to be her escort for the season.

Jimmy is not her social equal, but she was always taken with him. His father works on Fisher's land though he is a heavy drinker and is at risk of losing his job, and his mother was committed to an insane asylum and no longer recognizes her son. Jimmy agrees to be her escort as she is willing to pay him and he could use the money to help his parents. Fisher arranges for him to be outfitted properly, and promises that there are better places for Jimmy's mother.

Fisher borrows $10,000 teardrop diamond earrings from her aunt to wear to these social events. Fisher and Jimmy attend the first society party together, where she causes a scene when she has the band play controversial music and dances in "flapper" fashion. Soon the entire party views her as a joke and laughs at her, insulting her father and the fact that she had to pay a man to be her escort. In response, Jimmy yells at everyone to shut up and helps Fisher to the car.

The only other social gathering that Fisher is invited to is a Halloween party, given by her friend Jules in northern Memphis, where no one knows of her father's previous actions. As he waits for Fisher to pick him up for the next party, Jimmy mentions to his father that Fisher seemed to be sending him the message that she wanted to become more intimate. Jimmy suggests that if he were to agree to be more than her escort, then it would certainly lead to marriage. This would mean a permanent job for his father and better care for his mother.

On the way to the Halloween gathering, Fisher asks Jimmy to stop up at the levee so she can look at the water. She rests her head on his shoulder before moving to kiss him. Jimmy, in spite of what he said to his father earlier, pulls back instead, causing Fisher to be hurt and embarrassed. When they arrive at the party, Fisher is so angry with Jimmy that she gets out of the car before it fully stops. When she straightens out her clothes, she realizes that one of her teardrop earrings has fallen off. Becoming frantic and somewhat hysterical – especially when Jimmy recognizes a girl outside, Vinnie, an old romantic interest of his – Fisher believes that the earring fell off when she walked away from the car and begins searching the ground for it. When she is unsuccessful, she remembers that she had rested her head on Jimmy's shoulder earlier and asks him to check his pockets to see if the earring was there. Jimmy misunderstands and thinks that Fisher is accusing him of stealing the jewelry. He becomes furious, as his father was fired from a job once for stealing, and demands that she search his jacket. Fisher, confused as to why he is so angry, refuses, causing Jimmy to go into the party and demand that he be searched down to the skin in order to clear his good name.

Fisher, needing to get away from all the commotion, goes upstairs where she meets her friend's Aunt Addie, who is bedridden and unable to move her limbs due to a series of severe strokes. Addie says that she senses a kindred spirit in her, the same character that will not bend to the rules of society, and tells Fisher of a drug she used to use – opium – before she was sick. She points to a bottle on the shelf and says it contains the last of her stash. She asks Fisher to give her all of the pills (since she is unable to move herself) so she can die and stop the pain. Fisher agrees, but before she can go through with it, she is interrupted by Vinnie telling her that Jimmy was searched and the earring was not on him. Fisher puts the bottle back on the counter and places her remaining earring next to it, promising Addie that when she comes back to get her earring, she would give her the rest of the opiates.

Fisher goes back downstairs to find everyone suspects her of "losing" her diamond on purpose so that she could blame Jimmy and not have to pay him for being her escort. Jimmy is still angry at Fisher for her accusation of theft and leaves her alone to go be with Vinnie. Soon, the people begin to play Post Office, a kissing game. Jules gives her the highest card so that she can call Jimmy away from the other girl and kiss him herself. Fisher, growing increasingly distant, hides in the bathroom. She finds a bottle of Addie's "medicine" which contains a small amount of opium and drains it. Drifting through the party, in a dreamy haze, she reveals to everyone that, while overseas, she was actually at a mental institution. Still in a daze, Fisher misses when Jules asks who has the highest card and so Jimmy, who had the next highest, calls Vinnie to go out on the porch with him instead of Fisher. When she realizes that he chose Vinnie over herself, Fisher goes to the piano and plays a beautiful song, crying the whole time.

In the meantime, Jimmy and Vinnie have sex in a car outside. Vinnie tells Jimmy that she had an offer of marriage from a respectable man, but turned him down because she wasn't attracted to him like she was to Jimmy. Claiming that she didn't want any secrets between them, she brings him over to the back garden and digs in the ground to unearth the missing teardrop diamond. She had seen it on the ground and taken it herself. Vinnie says she knows where the other one is (she saw where Fisher put), and that she and Jimmy could run away with the jewelry and start a life together. Jimmy refuses, telling her that just because they are poor, it doesn't mean they are without honor, and she should return the earring to Fisher. Vinnie, angry, runs away with the earring.

Jimmy goes to look for Fisher and finds her in the car. She says she wants to go home, but Jimmy won't let her leave (he wants to find Vinnie and get the earring back). Jimmy pulls Fisher out of the car and there is a brief moment when they are close and Fisher looks longingly at him, before they are interrupted by Vinnie. She came back to return the earring to Fisher. Jimmy yells that they can leave now that she has her damn earring back, but Fisher remembers her promise to Addie and runs back inside. After she leaves, Jimmy thanks Vinnie for doing the right thing. Vinnie says that they will probably never see each other again as her only option now is to go marry the gentleman who proposed earlier. They embrace, and Jimmy returns to the car to wait for Fisher. Fisher retrieves her other teardrop diamond and fulfills her promise to Addie, giving her the entire contents of the bottle and bidding her farewell. Addie tells her to go with God. Fisher replies that she is: she's leaving with Jimmy.

On the way home, Fisher asks Jimmy to stop at the same levee they went to before the party so she can see the moon on the water. They stand on the levee together, and Fisher tells him that she intends to fix her father's mistake and that she can't run away anymore. She makes an offer to Jimmy: that his mother will be taken care of, his father will always have a job, and while she knows that no one could ever love her, he could get used to her. She reaches up to touch his face, but he pulls away again. Heartbroken, Fisher turns to walk away, only to find that Jimmy had grabbed her hand – a silent agreement to her proposal. She turns back to him and once again rests her head on his shoulder.



Tennessee Williams wrote The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond in 1957; at that time, director Elia Kazan (who previously worked with Williams on A Streetcar Named Desire and Baby Doll) was attached to the project, reuniting with Williams for a third time. Kazan, however, went to work on other projects.[1][2] Williams was interested in casting Julie Harris in the lead role.[3]

Jodie Markell recalled how she first became aware of the script: "I had been interested in Tennessee Williams since I was a teenager. I'd read a lot of his work, everything I could find. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and it really spoke to me. When I was in acting school one of my teachers showed me a collection of his screenplays, and when I read The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond I couldn't believe it had never been made. I really related to the character, Fisher Willow – mostly in her struggle to be heard in a society that keeps those who are more sensitive, more perceptive, more artistic, more romantic, witty – those people, he had an affinity for. He makes us understand them, he makes us see their vulnerabilities."[1]

Markell then sought out the rights to do the film from Williams' estate. She was fairly young, and at the time the estate was extremely tight and not giving the rights to a lot of Williams' work. Markell said, "In time things changed, and the people who were in control of the rights changed, and we kept approaching them every few years with producer Brad Gilbert, who was really great and obtained the rights eventually. Together, we sought out the actors we wanted and the project started to come alive and the financing came together."[1] Markell filmed in CinemaScope to evoke the rich coloration of Williams films of the 50s, and was at pains not to make a film that was "dusty and overbaked, like so many Williams productions you see these days."[4]

In November 2006, it was announced that Lindsay Lohan was going to play the lead role, but in March 2007, Bryce Dallas Howard was under negotiations for Lohan's role and went on to be cast.[5] However, Markell later stated that the casting of Lohan never happened; that the reported announcement was an error by the press. Howard was her first choice, and later went on to be cast.[2] Shooting for the film began on August 13, 2007 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


The film has received generally negative reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 26% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 38 reviews, with an average score of 4.4/10.[6] Metacritic, however, gave it an overall 51 out of 100 rating.[7]


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