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Steel Magnolias

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Herbert Ross
Produced by Ray Stark
Andrew Stone
Victoria White
Written by Robert Harling
Starring Sally Field
Dolly Parton
Shirley MacLaine
Daryl Hannah
Olympia Dukakis
Julia Roberts
Tom Skerritt
Dylan McDermott
Kevin J. O'Connor
Sam Shepard
Music by Georges Delerue
Studio Rastar
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date(s) November 15, 1989
Running time 117 min[1]
Country United States
Language English

Steel Magnolias is a 1989 comedy-drama film about the bond among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana. The movie is based on a 1987 off-Broadway play by Robert Harling and on the author's experience with the death of his sister. The title suggests the female characters are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.[2]



The action centers on Truvy's beauty parlour and some women who regularly gather there. The drama begins on the morning of Shelby's wedding to Jackson 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 also get a glimpse of the unlikely friendship between Clairee and Ouiser; Annelle's transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town to a partying woman and then to a religious fundamentalist; and Truvy's relationships with the men in her family. Although the main storyline involves Shelby, her mother and Shelby's medical battles, the underlying group-friendship among all six women is prominent throughout the drama.[3]


As noted in the Special Features on the Steel Magnolias DVD, the story of Steel Magnolias is based on the death of Robert Harling's younger sister, Susan Harling Robinson, a diabetic. As her best friend and closest sibling, Harling found it very difficult to cope with her death. He was advised by many of his friends to write about his feelings as a coping method. It began as a short story and evolved into a full length play due to the complexity of the relationships and emotions that existed within the characters. Harling felt it important to include the way the characters utilized humor and light hearted conversations to assist them in coping with the seriousness of the underlying situations. Harling wanted the moviegoers to have a true experience of what his family endured during his sister's hospitalization. One of the ways he did this was by employing the nurses, doctors and other hospital staff that worked with his sister as characters in the movie portraying their real life roles. Because of the true to life situation, this movie is received by viewers in many different ways.

The setting for the movie is the fictional small town of Chinquapin, Louisiana which is located in the (also fictional) parish of Chinquapin. The movie was actually filmed in Natchitoches, Louisiana which is located in Natchitoches Parish.

Stage play

The stage play, written by Robert Harling, is still popular today and has frequent productions mounted throughout the United States. It was originally staged Off-Broadway. All of the action of the play takes place solely on one set — Truvy's beauty salon, which is part of her house. There are only six characters (all female) that appear on stage. There is the voice of a DJ on the radio that is heard during the play. All the other characters (like the male characters) that appear in the film version are only referred to in the dialog. The original stage production opened at the WPA Theatre, in New York City, on 28 March 1987. It was directed by Pamela Berlin and featured Margo Martindale as Truvy, Constance Shulman as Annelle, Kate Wilkinson as Clairee, Mary Fogarty as Ouiser, Blanche Baker as Shelby and Rosemary Prinz as M'Lynn. The production moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre on 19 June 1987, with Betsy Aidem taking over the role of Shelby.

The premiere London production was produced in 1989 at the Lyric Theatre. It was directed by Julia McKenzie and featured Rosemary Harris as M’Lynn, Jean Boht as Ouiser Janine Duvitsky as Annelle, Stephanie Cole as Clairee, Maggie Steed as Truvy and Joely Richardson as Shelby.

In the spring of 2005, the play made its Broadway debut at the Lyceum Theatre. Previews of the production began March 15, 2005 and officially opened on April 4. The cast included Delta Burke as Truvy, Christine Ebersole as M'Lynn, Rebecca Gayheart as Shelby, Marsha Mason as Ouiser, Lily Rabe as Annelle and Frances Sternhagen as Clairee. At the close of its run, the staging had played 23 previews and 136 regular performances. A touring production of Steel Magnolias was expected for the 2007-08 season. Many regional theaters also perform the play each year.

There have been a number of Japanese language productions of the play. The most recent was staged by the Haiyuza Theatre Company from 14 November to 25 November 2007, in Tokyo. The production featured Mayuko Aoyama in the role of Truvy, Kaoru Inoue as Annelle, Mayumi Katayama as Clairee, Midori Ando as Shelby, Atsuko Kawaguchi as M'Lynn and Minae as Ouiser. The play was translated and directed by Hajime Mori.

A Swedish production premiered 16 November 2008 at Vasateatern in Stockholm in presence of Robert Harling. The cast included Cecilia Nilsson as Truvy, Pernilla August as M'Lynn, Melinda Kinnaman as Shelby, Suzanne Reuter as Ouiser, Linda Ulvaeus as Annelle and Gunilla Nyroos as Clairee. The play, called Blommor av Stål in Swedish, was directed by Emma Bucht and translated by Klas Östergren and Edward af Sillén.


The film was released by Tri-Star Pictures in the United States on November 15, 1989 and grossed more than US$83.7 million at the box office. Robert Harling adapted his own play, which was heavily rewritten to incorporate many more characters. It was his first produced screenplay and he also appears in the film as the preacher. The film was directed by Herbert Ross.

The film starred Dolly Parton (Truvy Jones), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee Belcher), Shirley MacLaine (Louisa "Ouiser" Boudreaux), Sally Field (M'Lynn Eatenton), Julia Roberts (Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie) and Daryl Hannah (Annelle Dupuy-Desoto). Julia Roberts received her first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress. The location for the filming was Natchitoches, Louisiana. Historian Robert DeBlieux, a former mayor of Natchitoches, was the local advisor on the film.

The casting and sets of the film go far beyond the modest means of the original play to include male characters, ensembles and outdoor scenes. The sequence of the action as well was more tightly linked with major holidays in the film than in the play. Much dialog was added and several lines in the play were cut or assigned to other characters than originally intended. In addition, Truvy is given only one son instead of two.

Among the men added to the cast for the movie were Tom Skerritt as Drum Eatenton (M'Lynn's husband), Dylan McDermott as Jackson Latcherie (Shelby's husband) and Sam Shepard as Spud Jones (Truvy's husband).

Film cast


CBS commissioned a television pilot in 1990 in hopes of continuing the story as a weekly half-hour sitcom. The story picked up where the film left off and therefore the character of Shelby was not included in the show. The cast featured Cindy Williams as M’Lynn, Sally Kirkland as Truvy, Elaine Stritch as Ouiser, Polly Bergen as Clairee and Sheila McCarthy as Annelle. CBS declined to pick up the series for the 1990 fall season, although the pilot was broadcast on August 17, 1990.

Diabetic awareness

The film portrays the seriousness of Type 1 diabetes and this portrayal of one woman's experience with being pregnant and having diabetes has created an awareness in diabetic women to be more cautious in regards to pregnancy. However, it is possible and quite common for women with diabetes to have a child without the deadly consequences that the film shows. Endocrinologists have expressed dismay that the film does not portray diabetes and diabetes management in an accurate light.[4]


  1. ^ Steel Magnolias on IMDb
  2. ^ (Scanlon, 2007)
  3. ^ Harling, Robert. Steel Magnolias. New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 1988.
  4. ^ How Hollywood Kills Diabetes Education by Jennifer Dyer, MD

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Steel Magnolia Quotes

"M'Lynn, your husband is the boil on the butt of humanity." Ouiser to M'Lynn

"Annelle, honey, what do you say we talk some trash" - Truvy to Annelle

"Don't you decorate your sisters car with condoms, it's tacky" - M'Lynn to the boys

"Drink the juice Shelby, drink the juice" - M'Lynn to Shelby

"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

"I'm a beautician!" - Annelle..."Ah, ah, glamour techician" - Truvy

"It's got gray icing, I can't even begin to think how you'd make gray icing" - M'Lynn about the red-velvet armadillo grooms cake

"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion" - Truvy

"There is no such thing as natural beauty" - Truvy to Annelle

"There's so much static electricity in this room....I pick up everything but boys and money" - Truvy to Annelle

"This is the 80's....if you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past" - Truvy to Clairee

"This is going in the Hairdo Hall of Fame" - Truvy about Shelby's hair

"What are your colors Shelby? - Truvy ... "Her colors are pink and pink" - M'Lynn ... "My colors are blush and bashful...I have chosen two shades of pink, one is much deeper than the other" -Shelby ... "That sanctuary looks like it's been hosed down with Pepto Bismol" - M'Lynn

" You can't mess up her just tease it and make it look like a brown football helmet" - Shelby to Annelle about M'Lynn's hair

"When it comes to suffering, she is right up there with Elizabeth Taylor." - Truvy to Anelle about Ruth Robeleine.

"That Jackson is one big hangin' man" - Nancy Beth.... "Yes, I know..." - Shelby

Retrieved from ""

"I want to hit something! I want to hit something hard!" - M'Lynn

Clairee: I've just been to the dedication of the new children's park.
Truvy: Yeah, how did that go?
Clairee: Janice Van Meter got hit with a baseball. It was fabulous.
Truvy: Was she hurt?
Clairee: I doubt it. She got hit in the head.

Truvy: In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight.

Truvy: Time marches on and sooner or later you realize it is marchin' across your face.

Ouiser Boudreaux: I am just about at the end of my rope with you.
Drum: Well, then why don't you tie a noose and slip it 'round your head?

Truvy: I kind of like hiring somebody with a past.
Clairee: She can't be more than eighteen. She hasn't had time to have a past.
Truvy: Oh get with it, Clairee. This is the eighties. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past.

Ouiser Boudreaux: I do not see plays, because I can nap at home for free. And I don't see movies 'cause they're trash, and they got nothin' but naked people in 'em! And I don't read books, 'cause if they're any good, they're gonna make 'em into a miniseries.

Clairee Belcher: All gay men have track lightin'. And all gay men are named Mark, Rick, or Steve.

Ouiser Boudreaux: I'm not crazy, M'Lynn, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!

Ouiser Boudreaux: This is it, I've found it, I'm in hell.

Drum: Ouiser, can we call a truce long enough for me to get a piece of cake?

[Ouiser slices him the tail piece of an armadillo cake]

Drum: Aww, thanks Ouiser. Nothin' like a good piece of ass.

Annelle: I think we should pray.
Sammy: I'd rather eat dirt!

Annelle: Sammy Wayne Desoto, what is this in my Frigidaire?
Sammy: Beer.
Annelle: I don't care what you do with your refrigerator, but you will not keep liquor in mine.

[dumps the beer out in the yard]

Sammy: Oh, Annelle, for Christ's sake!
Annelle: Who? Who did you say?
Sammy: Christ, Christ, Christ!
Annelle: Are you speaking of our Lord? Is that whose name you're taking in vain?
Sammy: That's the one.
Annelle: Well, I'm sorry, Sammy. But I am not about to spend the next fifty years of my life with someone I'm not gonna run into in the hereafter.
Sammy: Oh, Annelle, goddammit!
Annelle: I think we should pray.
Sammy: Oh, I'd rather eat dirt!

[about the new mayor's wife dancing]

Clairee Belcher: Looks like two pigs fightin' under a blanket.

Shelby: Well, we went skinny dipping and we did things that frightened the fish.

Annelle: Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.

Shelby: Truvy, you know what you need in here? You need a radio, takes the pressure off of everyone feeling they have to talk so much.
Truvy: I had one once, but I threw it up against the wall when I couldn't figure out where the batteries went. I know now I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome.

Shelby: I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

Clairee Belcher: Well, you know what they say: if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!

Truvy: I'm just screamin' at my husband; I can do that any time!

Clairee Belcher: They were both high. They'd been smokin' everything but their shoes.

Truvy: Oh, Sammy's so confused he don't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.

Ouiser Boudreaux: The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God.

Ouiser Boudreaux: I'm not as sweet as I used to be.

Truvy: I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence.

Clairee Belcher: I love ya more than my luggage.

Ouiser Boudreaux: You are a pig from hell.

Annelle: [quietly] That wasn't a very Christian thing to do.
Clairee: Oh Annelle, lighten up.

Ouiser Boudreaux: Clairee, you are too twisted for color TV!

Ouiser Boudreaux: I'm not crazy, I've just been a very bad mood for the last 40 years!

Clairee Belcher: That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

Clairee Belcher: The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.

Ouiser Boudreaux: My God, you look different. Have you shrunk?

[Sammy is wearing an Easter bunny contume]

Annelle: We'll talk about uncomfortable when you're nine months pregnant!

Ouiser Boudreaux: Yes, Annelle, I pray! Well, I do! There, I said it, I hope you're satisfied.
Annelle: I suspected this all along!
Ouiser Boudreaux: Oh! Well don't you expect me to come to one of your churches or one of those tent-revivals with all those Bible-beaters doin' God-only-knows-what! They'd probably make me eat a live chicken!
Annelle: Not on your first visit!
Clairee Belcher: Very good, Annelle! Spoken like a true smart-ass!

Truvy: Smile! It increases your face value.

Clairee Belcher: You know, you would be a much more contented, pleasant person if you would find ways to occupy your time.
Ouiser Boudreaux: I'm pleasant. Damn it! I saw Drum Eatenton at the Piggly Wiggly this morning, and I smiled at the son of a bitch 'fore I could help myself.

Clairee Belcher: Ouiser could never stay mad at me; she worships the quicksand I walk on.

Ouiser Boudreaux: Drum, eat shit and die.

Ouiser Boudreaux: You are evil, and you must be destroyed.
Clairee Belcher: Mother Nature's taking care of that faster than you could.

Ouiser Boudreaux: Annelle, take your Bible and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

Truvy: Oh, honey, God don't care which church you go, long as you show up!

Ouiser Boudreaux: Clairee, this is just a gesture. We're not feedin' Drum until the end of time.
Clairee Belcher: Drum loves pork and beans. Eats 'em with everything.
Ouiser Boudreaux: Well, that explains a lot.

Annelle: We are in the house of the Lord!
Clairee Belcher: A lot she cares. Ousier's never done a religious thing in her life.
Ouiser Boudreaux: Now that is not true. When I was in school, a bunch of my friends and I would dress up as nuns and go bar-hoppin'.

Ouiser Boudreaux: A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Truvy: You are playin' hard to get!
Clairee Belcher: At her age, she should be playin' beat the clock.

Clairee Belcher: Ouiser, I'd recognize this penmanship anywhere. You have the handwritin' of a serial killer.

Sammy: Oh, Annelle, for Christ's sake!
Annelle: Who?
Sammy: Christ.
Annelle: Who did you say?
Sammy: Christ, Christ, Christ!
Annelle: Is that our Lord whose name you're taking in vain?
Sammy: That's the one.

Clairee: Ouiser, you sound almost chipper what happened today you run over a small child or something?

Clairee Belcher: The older you get, the sillier you get.
Ouiser Boudreaux: Yeah, well the older you get, the uglier you get.

Clairee: And I can also report that a mysterious car is parked in her driveway at least once a week...
Ouiser Boudreaux: There. My secrets out. I'm having an affair with a Mercedes Benz!

Annelle: That is one ugly dog. What kind of dog is that?
Clairee: If it had hair, it'd be a Saint Bernard.

Truvy: Well, these thighs haven't gone out of the house without lycra on them sice I was 14.
Clairee: You were brought up right.

Truvy: There is no such thing as natural beauty.

M'Lynn: Shelby, the boys bought the car around.
Shelby: What did they do to it?
M'Lynn: Well, let me put it this way... If you and Jackson want to practice safe sex, you're all set!

Truvy: I don't like her. I don't trust anyone who does their own hair. I don't think it's natural.

Tommy and Jonathon Eatenton: Hello Miz Ouiser
Ouiser Boudreaux: [Makes a face] Ugh! Leave me alone!

M'Lynn: Oh Ouiser, Drum would NEVER point a gun at a lady!
Ouiser Boudreaux: Oh! He's a real gentleman! I bet he takes the dishes out of the sink before he PEES in it!

Annelle: [stands up after praying] Amen.
M'Lynn: [looking confused at Truvy] Was she just praying?
Truvy: [rolling eyes, frustrated] Yes.
M'Lynn: Why?
Truvy: Maybe she's praying for Marshall and Drew and Belle. Maybe she's praying for us because we're gossiping. Maybe she's praying because the elastic is shot in her pantyhose! Who knows! She prays a the drop of a hat these days.

Truvy: Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly.

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*!

[continues sobbing]

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 Boudreaux: [Taken aback and confused] Are you crazy?
Clairee: *Hit her*!
Ouiser Boudreaux: *Are you high, Clairee*?
Ouiser Boudreaux: [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 Boudreaux: [snatches away] Let go o' me!

M'Lynn: I find it amusing. Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something. I just sat there. I just held Shelby's hand. There was no noise, no tremble, just peace. Oh god. I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.

Annelle: Does your dress have to go over your head?
M'Lynn: No
Annelle: OH! Thank God!

Shelby: [to Annelle] Relax! You can't screw up her hair. Just tease it and make it look like a brown football helmet.

Truvy: What are your colors, Shelby?
Shelby: My Colors! My Colors! My colors are "blush" and "bashful."
M'Lynn: Her colors are "pink" and pink."
Shelby: My colors are "blush" and "bashful" Mama!
M'Lynn: How precious is this weddin' gonna get, I ask you?

Clairee Belcher: [discussing the color of the football uniforms] ... But I love the top - such a vibrant purple. Bob, would you call this color "grape" or "aubergine'?
Ouiser Boudreaux: SHUT UP!
Clairee Belcher: What?
Ouiser Boudreaux: You're makin' a fool outta yourself, Clairee.
Clairee Belcher: I am not.
Ouiser Boudreaux: This is football. All people care about are touchdowns and injuries. They don't give a damn about that grape shit.

Ouiser Boudreaux: Don't try to get on my good side, Truvy. I no longer have one!

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