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Fried Green Tomatoes

Movie poster
Directed by Jon Avnet
Produced by Jon Avnet
Norman Lear
Written by Fannie Flagg
Carol Sobieski
Starring Kathy Bates
Mary Stuart Masterson
Mary-Louise Parker
Jessica Tandy
Music by JoJo Hailey
K-Ci Hailey
Thomas Newman
Cinematography Geoffrey Simpson
Editing by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) December 27, 1991 (USA)
March 13, 1992 (UK)
March 26, 1992 (Australia)
Running time 136 min.
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $80,100,000 (USA)
$119,418,501 (Worldwide)

Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 drama film based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. It was released in the UK under the novel's full title. Directed by Jon Avnet and written by Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski, it stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson. It tells the story of a Depression-era friendship between two women, Ruth and Idgie, and a 1980s friendship between Evelyn, a middle aged housewife and Ninny, an elderly woman who knew Ruth and Idgie.

The film received a mixed, but generally positive, reception from film critics and was nominated for two Academy Awards. The film makers drew criticism from some reviewers for removing the lesbian content of the book's plot, but the film won a GLAAD Media Award for 'best lesbian content'.



Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates), a timid and unhappy housewife in her forties, meets elderly Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) in a Birmingham, Alabama nursing home. Ninny, over several encounters with Evelyn, tells her the story of the now-abandoned town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, and the people that lived there.

Ninny's story begins with tomboy Imogene "Idgie" Threadgoode (Mary Stuart Masterson), the youngest of the Threadgoode children, who Ninny describes as her sister-in-law. Idgie's close relationship with her charming older brother Buddy (Chris O'Donnell) is cut short when he is hit by a train and killed. Devastated, Idgie recedes from formal society for much of her childhood and adolescence, until straight-laced Buddy's former girlfriend Ruth Jamison (Mary-Louise Parker), intervenes at the request of the concerned Threadgoode family.

Over the summer, Idgie first resists Ruth's attempts at friendship, but then gradually allows a deep attachment to develop. Ruth leaves Whistle Stop to marry Frank Bennett (Nick Searcy) and moves to Valdosta, Georgia. Idgie is upset at losing her friend and struggles to forget her. After some time she visits Ruth and discovers that she is now pregnant, and suffering from physical abuse from her husband. Against Frank's wishes, Idgie persuades Ruth to leave him and return to Whistle Stop, where her child, named Buddy Jr., is born. Papa Threadgoode gives Idgie money to start a business so that she can care for Ruth and Buddy Jr. Ruth and Idgie open the Whistle Stop Cafe, employing cook Sipsey (Cicely Tyson) and her son Big George (Stan Shaw), who makes a barbecue that quickly becomes popular with their patrons.

Frank Bennett eventually returns to Whistle Stop in an attempt to kidnap Buddy Jr., but is thwarted by an unseen assailant. Frank goes missing and his car is later found at the bottom of a nearby lake. Idgie is immediately a suspect, as she had publicly threatened violence against him for beating Ruth. She is arrested along with Big George Frank's murder. The police offer to release her and pin the crime solely on Big George, but Idgie refuses to sacrifice her friend. During the subsequent trial, the local minister lies, providing Idgie and Big George with an alibi for the time of Frank's disappearance. Taking into account Frank's reputation for drunkenness, the judge rules his death an accident and Idgie and Big George are cleared of all charges. Later it is revealed that Sipsey had accidentally killed Frank with a cast-iron skillet while trying to stop him from kidnapping Buddy Jr. Big George had barbecued Frank's body and served it to the café customers, including the Georgia police officers who were searching for Frank.

After the trial, Ruth develops cancer and dies. Following her death, the café closes and over time, many Whistle Stop residents eventually move away, bringing Ninny to the end of her story. Evelyn discovers that during Ninny's temporary stay at the nursing home, her house has been condemned and torn down. Evelyn, having become good friends with Ninny, offers her a room in her home which Ninny accepts. As the two friends walk away from Ninny's former home, they pass Ruth's grave, freshly adorned with flowers and a card from "The Bee Charmer", Ruth's old nickname for Idgie.

The film's subplot concerns Evelyn's dissatisfaction with her marriage and her life, her growing confidence, and her developing friendship with Ninny. The narrative switches several times between Ninny's story, which is set between World War I and World War II, and Evelyn's life in 1980s Birmingham.


Differences between the film and novel

Unlike the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the film adaptation does not explicitly present the lesbian romance between the two central characters, instead making the relationship between Idgie and Ruth ambiguous.[1] The DVD edition of the film has an audio commentary with the director acknowledging this and pointing out that a scene between the two women engaging in a food fight was intended to be seen as symbolic love-making. At the time of the film's debut, it was criticized by reviewers and activists for what was seen as "glossing over" the lesbian overtones of the relationship.[1][2] However, the film won an award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for best feature film with lesbian content.[3] At the end of the novel, Ninny Threadgoode dies, whereas in the film, she lives while Mrs. Otis dies and Evelyn invites Ninny to live with her and Ed.


Critical reception

Fried Green Tomatoes was generally well received by critics. Film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "fresh" score of 82% based on 22 reviews.[4]

Critics enjoyed the narrative, but found it conventional and predictable.[2][5] The adaptation of the separate narative of book to the screen was criticised by Time Out as "clumsy"; Roger Ebert agreed saying that the flashback device did not work.[5][6] Writing for The New York Times, Janet Maslin praised the costume and production design and Emanuel Levy praised the cinematography and score.[2][7] The cast drew praise for their performances, particularly Masterson and Tandy.[2][7]

Box office

The film grossed a total of $82,418,501 in the United States alone, and took in $37,000,000 outside the U.S., bringing the total to $119,418,501 worldwide.[8]


The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jessica Tandy) and for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski).[9] At the 46th British Academy Film Awards in 1992, Tandy was nominated for the Best Actress award, and Bates was nominated as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.[9]

Setting and the café

Inside the Whistle Stop Cafe, Juliette, GA

Although set in Alabama, Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed in Juliette in Monroe County, Georgia.[10] After the release of the film, Juliette saw an influx of tourists and, with John Avnet's encouragement, locals opened The Whistle Stop Café, recreated to mirror the film set.[11] Although "Whistle Stop Café" is now a registered trademark, other establishments have appeared using that name.[12]

When writing the novel, Flagg based Whistle Stop on Irondale, Alabama, and the café on a real-life restaurant, the Irondale Café.[10] She was a frequent visitor to the café which was formerly owned by her great-aunt.[13]


Fried Green Tomatoes
Studio album by Various Artists
Released December 31, 1991
Genre Soundtrack
Length 39:24
Label MCA
Professional reviews

Fried Green Tomatoes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the 1991 Academy Award-nominated film Fried Green Tomatoes. For the original score of the same film, composed by Thomas Newman, see Fried Green Tomatoes (score).

Track listing

  1. "I'll Remember You" (Grayson Hugh) — 5:08
  2. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" (Paul Young) — 4:34
  3. "Cherish" (Hip Hop Version) (Jodeci) — 3:58
  4. "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" (Taylor Dayne) — 3:20
  5. "Rooster Blues" (Peter Wolf) — 3:15
  6. "Barbeque Bess" (Patti LaBelle) — 2:54
  7. "If I Can Help Somebody" (Aaron Hall) — 3:49
  8. "Cool Down Yonder" (Marion Williams) — 3:10
  9. "Cherish" (Movie Version) (Jodeci) — 2:29
  10. "Ghost Train" (Main Title) (Thomas Newman) — 3:11
  11. "Visiting Ruth" (Newman) — 1:46
  12. "A Charge To Keep I Have" (Newman) — 1:50


  1. ^ a b Rockler, Naomi R. (March 22, 2001). "A Wall on the Lesbian Continuum: Polysemy and Fried Green Tomatoes". Women's Studies in Communication 24. Retrieved June 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Levy, Emanuel (January 6, 2006). "Fried Green Tomatoes". Retrieved June 15, 2009. 
  3. ^ Pryor, Kelli; Sharon Isaak (February 28, 1992). "Women in Love". Entertainment Weekly.,,309690,00.html. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Fried Green Tomatoes Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 11, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (January 10, 1992). "Reviews: Fried Green Tomatoes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ CM. "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café Review". Time Out. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (December 27, 1991). "Women Finding Strength In Women". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 5, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Fried Green Tomatoes — Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Park, Irby (May 7, 2003). "Fannie Flagg Captivates Audience at City Book Event". The Chattanoogan. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Little Town Where Movie was Made Finally Gets Café, Fried Tomatoes". Rome News. April 13, 1992.,4004503&dq=fried-green-tomatoes+juliette&hl=en. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  12. ^ Zganjar, Leslie (November 1, 2002). "The Whistle Stop name is just too popular". Birmingham Business Journal. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  13. ^ Nolan, Michael (October 20, 2002). "Fried Green Tomatoes At The Irondale Cafe". American Profile. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 

External links

Simple English

Fried Green Tomatoes
Directed by Jon Avnet
Produced by Jon Avnet
Norman Lear
Written by Fannie Flagg
Carol Sobieski
Starring Kathy Bates
Jessica Tandy
Mary-Louise Parker
Mary Stuart Masterson
Music by Jo Jo Hailey
K-Ci Hailey
Thomas Newman
Cinematography Geoffrey Simpson
Editing by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) December 27 1991
Running time 136 minutes
Country United States
Language English
IMDb profile

Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 drama film directed by Jon Avnet. It is based on a novel by Fannie Flagg called Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The film stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson.



A woman called Evelyn goes to a nursing home to visit her mother-in-law and meets an elderly lady called Ninny. They become friends. Ninny tells Evelyn stories about when she was younger, and about the people she used to know. In particular, she tells Evelyn about two young women, Idgie and Ruth.

In Ninny's stories, Idgie and Ruth are friends who run a café together and raise Ruth's son Buddy. Ruth has separated from her husband Frank because he used to hit her. One day, Frank goes missing and the police begin to think that Idgie has killed him.

Ninny tells Evelyn her stories over several visits. During that time, Evelyn, who was depressed, is inspired by Ruth and Idgie to have more power in her life. In the end, Ninny goes to live with Evelyn and her husband. There is a hint that Ninny and Idgie might be the same person.


  • Kathy Bates as Evelyn Couch
  • Mary Stuart Masterson as Idgie Threadgoode
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Ruth Jamison
  • Jessica Tandy as Ninny Threadgoode
  • Cicely Tyson as Sipsey
  • Chris O'Donnell as Buddy Threadgoode
  • Stan Shaw as Big George
  • Gailard Sartain as Ed Couch
  • Timothy Scott as Smokey Lonesome
  • Gary Basaraba as Grady Kilgore
  • Lois Smith as Mama Threadgoode
  • Danny Nelson as Papa Threadgoode

Differences from the novel

There are some differences between the film and the novel it was made from. In the novel, Idgie and Ruth are a lesbian couple. In the film they seem to be just friends.[1] The director, John Avnet said that he wanted viewers to make up their own minds. In one part of the film, Idgie and Ruth have a food fight. Avnet said that the food fight is symbolic of love-making.[2] When it was released, some critics and LGBT activists were angry that the lesbian part of the story had been "glossed over".[1][3] Even though the lesbian content had been hidden, the film won an award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for best feature film with lesbian content.[4]

Another difference is that at the end of the film, it seems possible that Ninny is really Idgie. In the novel, they are completely separate characters and are sisters-in-law.


The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and two BAFTA awards.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rockler, Naomi R. (2001-03-22). "A Wall on the Lesbian Continuum: Polysemy and Fried Green Tomatoes.". Women's Studies in Communication 24. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  2. DVD commentary
  3. Levy, Emanuel (2006-01-06). "Fried Green Tomatoes". Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  4. Pryor, Kelli; Sharon Isaak (1992-02-28). "Women in Love". Entertainment Weekly.,,309690,00.html. 
  5. "Fried Green Tomatoes - Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 

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