Whoa! It’s been so long since the last of these that I think it’s only appropriate for me to legitimately begin a new round of it all. What with crashing computers, summer laziness and whatnot I never came around to getting a plethora of screencaps to perform a screen analysis.
I suppose, in truth, Steel Magnolias is just a mass of Southern clichés. However, that doesn’t stop me from finding it to be a completely charming bit of craziness – with or without its chick flick moniker. (I’m not from anywhere near the south of America, so I can’t say if the clichés are stretched or accurate.) It’s an ensemble cast, and all the women are up to scratch but it’s Sally Field who continually turns in the strongest of performance as M’Lynn. Sally’s name has become somewhat marred, even though she still turns in credible work on Brothers & Sisters but I’m at a loss to why she wasn’t Oscar nominated for her work here (though she did get the Golden Globe nod).
The scene in question occurs nears the end after Shelby’s death – M’Lynn’s daughter. (Er, retrogressive spoiler alert.)
All the women start gathering around...
I can’t give effusive praise to Herbet Ross’s direction, it’s not groundbreaking in the least, but he works well with the usual bits.
Truvy: “How you holding up, honey?”
M’Lynn: “I’m fine.”
Clairee: “It was a beautiful service.”
Ouiser: “The flowers were the most beautiful I have ever seen.”I love the look on Sally’s face as Olympia recites that line, because – really – who cares about the service?
Annelle: “Miss M’Lynn...it should make you feel a lot better that Shelby is with her King.”
I can never NOT roll my eyes at that line. Seriously? All religion aside, that’s about the worst thing to tell any grieving parent.
M’Lynn: “Yes, Annelle, I guess it should.”
Annelle: “We should all be rejoicing.”
M’Lynn: “Well you go on ahead, I’m sorry if I don’t feel like it, I guess I’m a bit selfish. I’d rather have her here.
Annelle: “Ms, M’Lynn. I don’t mean to upset you by saying that.”
Annelle: “It’s just that...when something like this happens I pray very hard to make heads or tails of it, and I think that in Shelby’s case: she just wanted to take of that little baby, and of you...of everybody she knew and her poor little body was just worn out.”
Annelle: It just wouldn’t let her do all the things she wanted to. So she went on to a place where she could be a guardian angel.”
Annelle: “She will always be young...she will always be beautiful.”
Annelle: “And I personally feel much safer knowing that she’s up there on my side.
Annelle: “It may sound real simple and stupid...and maybe I am, but, that’s how I get through things like this.”
Daryl is my least favourite of the film’s main cast. But, perhaps, that’s just because Annelle is just irritating at times. She sells that short monologue well, though (who imagined Annelle would grow up to become this.)
M’Lynn: “Thank you, Annelle. I appreciate that. And it’s a real good idea.”
M’Lynn: “Shelby as you know, wouldn’t want us to get mired down and wallow in this. We should handle it the best way we know how...and get on with it. That’s what my mind says. I wish somebody’d explain to my heart.”
Truvy: “Drum says you never left her side for a second.”
Not to interject, but what is with these names? Drum? Truvy? M’Lynn? I still don’t know what the last one is indicative of.
M’Lynn: “No, I couldn’t leave my Shelby. I just sat there and kept on pushing the way I always have where Shelby’s concerned. I was hoping she’d sit up and argue with me. And finally we realised there was no hope. We turned off the machines.”
M’Lynn: “Drum left, he couldn’t take it. Jackson left. I find it amusing. Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something.”The title of the play/movie is never explained, but we could only infer that in their flowery natural state that the women are ones really made of state.
M’Lynn: “But I just sat there. I just held Shelby’s hand. There was no noise.”
M’Lynn: “No tremble. Just peace.”
M’Lynn: “Oh, God. I realise...as a woman, just 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.”
M’Lynn: “I gotta get back. Has anybody got a mirror?”
That line just seems inappropriate, but it still makes me chuckle.Truvy: “Does anybody have a mirror? I don’t know how you’re doing on the inside, honey, but your hair’s just holding up beautiful.”
“M’Lynn: “Shelby was right. This is a brown football helmet.”That series of shots is another great showcase for Sally, she moves throw the range of emotions so well that you’re right there with her.
Another silly question that’s always asked at funerals...but it leads into Sally’s looooooooooooooong monologue, and what’s probably the strongest part of the film.Clairee: “Oh honey, are you okay?”
M’Lynn: “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’M FINE!
M’Lynn: “I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can’t.”
M’Lynn: “She never could.”
M’Lynn: Oh God, I’m so mad I don’t know what to do. I wanna know why. I wanna know why Shelby’s life is over.”
I can only imagine how difficult is for someone who’s on screen while a character delivers a monologue, in school I hated being on stage during a play when someone else had a monologue. What were you supposed to do? These ladies seem to be doing well enough...
M’Lynn: “I wanna know how that baby will ever know how wonderful his mother was. Will he ever know what she went through for him?”
M’Lynn: “Oh, God, I wanna know why!”
M’Lynn: “WHY?! Lord, I wish I could understand.”
M’Lynn: “No, no, no, it’s not supposed to happen this way.”
M’Lynn: “I’m supposed to go first I’ve always been ready to go first.”
M’Lynn: “I don’t think I can take this.”
M’Lynn: “I don’t think I can take this.”
M’Lynn: “I just wanna hit somebody till they feel as bad as I do. I just wanna hit something.”
M’Lynn: “I wanna hit it hard!”
Clairee: “Here! Hit this!
Clairee: Go ahead, M’Lynn. Slap her!”
Ouiser: “Are you crazy?
Clairee: “Hit her!”Ouiser: “Are you high, Clairee?”
Truvy: “Clairee, have you lost your mind?”
Clairee: “We’ll sell T-shirts saying I slapped Ouiser Boudreaux! Hit her!”
Annelle: “Miss Clairee, enough!”
Clairee: “Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man.
Clairee: “Knock her lights out!”
Ouiser: “Let go of me!”
Clairee: “M’Lynn you missed the chance of a lifetime.
Clairee: “Half of Chinquapin would give their eyeteeth to take a whack at Ouiser.”
....and the laughter...
Ouiser: “You are a pig from hell!”A brilliant line delivery there.
M’Lynn: “Ouiser, don’t leave!”
Clairee: “Ouiser, I was just kidding. Come back!”
Annelle: “That was not a very Christian thing to do.”
Clairee: “Annelle, you gotta lighten up.”I think it was Heather who said that Steel Magnolias is one of those movies that would take you from tears to laughter in a few moments only, and she’s right. And, it’s all balanced so well that it really is an impressive feat. Perhaps, it’s not the most technically savvy film – but that doesn’t say much, what is? It’s an acting showcase at its best, and no one impresses more than Sally Field.
Are you a fan of Steel Magnolias? Do you believe the ladies’ chemistry? ...or Sally’s grief?
Season One: Scene On a Sunday