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The Grass Harp
The Grass Harp
Actors: Joe Don Baker, Charles Durning, Wilson, Scott
Director: Charles Matthau
Genres: Comedy, Drama
PG     2005     1hr 47min

Following the death of his parents young Collin Fenwick (Edward Furlong) comes to a small southern town to live with his father's cousins Verena and Dolly Talbo. He soon discovers that the Talbo household is anything but n...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Joe Don Baker, Charles Durning, Wilson, Scott
Director: Charles Matthau
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: New Line Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/19/2005
Original Release Date: 10/11/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 10/11/1996
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Undiscovered Gem of Wonderful Surprises & Great Perfomances
The Fan Report | Southern California | 04/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Set in the 30's, The Grass Harp is a story about an orphan boy who is sent to live with his eccentric aunts. The story follows the plight of social "outcasts" with humor and insight.

On the surface this story is about love and our connections to others - both living and dead. Yet underneath run themes of social prejudice, racial inequality, religion, morals and the struggles of social conformity vs. individual expression - but the film never preaches. It just reveals.

Director Charles Matthau accomplished the near-impossible task of adapting Truman Capote's classic book into a beautiful rendered film. Wisely, he approached this multi-layered story with a light touch, allowing the material and talent to shine. Matthau skillfully captures a myriad of complex relationships and emotions, allowing the characters to live and breathe without placing judgment on who they are.

The boy's coming-of-age story is entertaining, humorous and poignant. As the film unfolds, Collin encounters a diverse group of characters, from which he gains valuable insights about life. Now an adult he looks back (as the narrator) reflecting on this formative time.

Each character is uniquely distinct and true-to-life. The entire all-star cast is at the top of their game.

This is the best performance of Piper Laurie's career. She is delicate and mesmerizing as the fragile Dolly Talbo. Her scenes with Spacey and Matthau will break your heart.

For those of you who have only seen Walter Matthau in grumpy curmudgeon roles, you are in for a treat! Matthau is wonderful as a Judge Cool, a Southern gentleman struggling to find meaning in his retirement years. As Piper Laurie's love interest he is tender and charming yet dignified. A man of integrity and honor, Judge Cool is the only "accepted" towns person with compassion for the outcasts.

As a collective, the ensemble cast captures the social pecking order with uncanny accuracy.

Jon Don Baker is great as the Sheriff, Nell Carter is a hoot as the eccentric housekeeper and Sissy Spacek is an amazing blend of steely resolve masking her conflicted feelings of vulnerability and insecurity.
Roddy McDowell is the delightfully sarcastic barber. Jack Lemmon and Mary Steenbergen are great fun as out-of-towners who stir things up. Mary as a traveling cowgirl evangelist out to save souls - never mind that she is a single- mother of fourteen kids...all by different fathers! She pulls it off with comic charm and sad poignancy. Lemmon is a "chemical engineer" (read quack potions salesman) with a scheme to get his hands on Dolly's herbal potion. Although some locals may be skeptical about Lemmon and Steenbergen motives, they never play their roles in black and white terms.

The film is exceptionally well written, particularly considering how many characters there were to juggle. All the characters are well-developed and performed. Even the shady characters are oh-so-human in their desperate schemes to survive the Great Depression.

There is also one of the most delightful casts of furry creatures ever assembled: a host of cats, dogs, fish, and a scene-stealing Rooster named Ralph. It looked to me like Ralph was huffing around wishing he had more lines. I'd be all for him getting his own sequel."
The Grass Harp sings!
Mark Koenig | New York, NY | 03/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Truman Capote's memoir of his past is translated to the movie screen with the right kind of homage that it deserves. Colin Fenwick, orphaned in his youth, is sent to live with his two maiden aunts and their eccentric housekeeper. The awakening of his senses of the outside world is shaped by these women. Vereena-the hardened bussinesswoman, Dolly-the free spirit filled with a warmth that is like a comfortable blanket on a cold winter morning, and Catherine-the opinionated but loyal and protective housekeeper. Charles Matthau has given us a movie devoid of the tastelessness that permeates most Hollywood movies these days. We move lazily along (as it was in the South) getting to know each character intimately and at the end, we are the richer for it. BRAVO!"
Lovely performances and interesting casting
Hollis Greenspan | Northwest New Jersey | 07/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I adore this movie. I saw it quite awhile ago, so I can't give many specifics, but you can read the other reviews for commentary on the performances. An ensemble cast rather than a real star turn for anyone, with the exception of Piper Laurie. Laurie is always wonderful in her varied roles, and this is a very sweet and graceful conception of a child-like character. She never plays it for laughs, and the portrayal does not indicate that childlike here is equivalent to childish or emotionally disturbed. Poor Sissy Spacek is cast as a typical "old maid/prude", unfortunately; the writer(s) might have made the two women's roles less extreme in their behavior, but it does contribute to the reconciliation at the end. I think I will put this movie on my wishlist. By the way, I came across this movie on an [...] list that gave a rundown of all the movies the very interesting Mia Kirshner has been in. I don't remember her being in the movie, and apparently she had a small role, but it makes me even more eager to see the movie again. She's hot, and I love her on "The L Word". One more note--I have never particularly liked
Walter Matthau, but he does an amazing job with his role. It's worth it to see the very elderly Matthau wrap up his career with an attractive acting job. The title of the movie aptly reflects the airy tone of the story--there is a kind of windy music flowing throughout the performance.
See it at least once!"
The Grass Harp
travelin' lite | 06/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you like movies like "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Crimes of the Heart", or "Practical Magic" then you'll love this Southern tale. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy recently orphaned by his mother and a seemingly uncaring, grieving father. Sent to live with a mis-matched pair of spinster Aunts, the boy learns that love is not always what it seems and can be found in the most unlikely characters."