Steel Magnolias was a 1987 off-Broadway play by Robert Harling, that was made into a movie in 1989. Based on the author's experience with the death of his sister, Steel Magnolias is a comedy-drama about the bond among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana.
The women in this story routinely gather at Truvy's Beauty Parlor for some female bonding. The movie begins on the morning of Shelby's (Julia Roberts) wedding to Jackson (Dylan McDermott) and covers events over the next three years, including Shelby's decision to have a child despite having Type 1 diabetes and the complications that result from the decision.
We get to see the unlikely friendship between Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) and Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine); Annelle's (Daryl Hannah) transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town, to a partying woman, then to a religious fundamentalist; and Truvy's (Dolly Parton) relationships with the men in her family. Although the main storyline involves Shelby and her mother, M'Lynn (Sally Field), the underlying group-friendship among all six women is prominent throughout the drama.
This movie has one of the saddest funeral scenes and it always brings me to tears, but the same scene also contains one of the funniest moments in movie history.
Some of my favorite quotes from this movie include:
"M'Lynn, your husband is the boil on the butt of humanity" - Ouiser to M'Lynn
"I heard you got so screwed you cut your dog out of your will and had an ungrateful nephew put to sleep" - Drum to Ouiser
"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion" - Truvy
"This is the 80's....if you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past" - Truvy to Clairee
"In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight" - Truvy
"I'm not crazy, M'Lynn, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!" - Ouiser
"Ouiser, I'd recognize this penmanship anywhere. You have the handwritin' of a serial killer" - Clairee
"I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special" - Shelby
"They were both high. They'd been smokin' everything but their shoes." - Clairee
"The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God" - Ouiser
"Ouiser could never stay mad at me; she worships the quicksand I walk on" - Clairee
"Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly" - Truvy
And last but not least, the sad/happy scene from the funeral:
M'Lynn: [crying] I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine.
M'Lynn: I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I am so mad I don't know what to do! I wanna know why! I wanna know *why* Shelby's life is over! I wanna know how that baby will *ever* know how wonderful his mother was! Will he *ever* know what she went through for him! Oh *God* I wanna know *why*? *Why*? Lord, I wish I could understand!
[In a firm tone]
M'Lynn: No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way! I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I just wanna *hit* somebody 'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna *hit* something! I wanna *hit it hard*!
Clairee: *Here*! [Grabs Ouiser by the shoulder and positions her in front of M'Lynn]
Clairee: *Hit this*! Go ahead M'Lynn, *slap her*!
Ouiser: [Taken aback and confused] Are you crazy?
Clairee: *Hit her*!
Ouiser: *Are you high, Clairee*?
Ouiser: [In a frightened tone] Clairee, have you lost your mind?
Clairee: We'll sell t-shirts sayin' "I SLAPPED OUISER BOUDREAUX!" Hit her!
Annelle: [in a scared tone] Ms. Clairee, enoough!
Clairee: Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man! Knock her lights out, M'Lynn!
Ouiser: [snatches away] Let go o' me!
Clairee: M'LYNN, YOU JUST MISSED THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME! HALF O' CHIQUAPIN PARISH'LL GIVE THEIR EYE-TEETH TO TAKE A WHACK O' OUISER!
This Week's Oz Short Story
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