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Page 8 DTH Omnibus
Thursday November 30, 1989
C II IN j M A
Olympia, Shirley: Slink and trundle
The Dukakis who could
jn is the season of the Olympia '
j " Dukakis Film Festival, since
I. the Academy Award winner
is simultaneously appearing in
three major films.
"It seems that way," she says with ?
a throaty laugh, "but actually, it's a
coincidence. These films, which
have been done over the past 2
years, just happened to be coming
out at the same time." They are:
Look Who's Talking, as the nagging
mother of Kirstie Alley; Steel Mag- :
noUas, as a sardonic widow; and Dad,
as Jack Lemmon's overbearing wife
and Ted Danson's mother.
The trio may seem like a bounti
ful harvest from her warmly ap
plauded win of the supporting ac
tress Oscar for Moonstruck earlier
this year. But all were in the works
before that happy event,
SteelMagnolias threw six volatile
actresses together, a potentially
explosive situation. But Olympia
said she and her co-stars had a ball.
"Sometimes it was very raucous,
and lewd and lascivious " she chuck
led. "We had a lot of fun together,
bawdy. At other times it was very
reflective, philosophical, we dis
cussed life, liberty and the ptnrsuit :
It was different on Moonstruck.
She recalled when two of the actors
had a blowup and in the scuffle she
had coffee spilled on her.
In Steel Magnolias, Dukakis played
her own age (50ish). For Dad she
endured two hours in the makeup .
chair to age her 15 to 20 years.
"The makeup helped to assume
the age," she said. "Also the length
of the sleeves, the hump in the back,
the jewels oversized, the pocketbook
a little too big. There was a kind of
physical tightness about her that
matched her feelings."
,The actress was surprised when
Look Who's Talking went through
the roof (No. 1 five weeks in a row,
$85 million in 38 days).
"I have to admit that I never
thought it would have this kind of
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Dukakis is a late starter in the
business. Born in Lowell, Mass., she
grew up in the same political fer
ment that produced her cousin,
Michael, the Massachusetts gover
nor and presidential candidate.
After graduating from Boston Col
lege, she worked as a physical thera
pist, then returned to college to
study theater arts.
She worked in a Boston regional
theater, then moved to New York
with her actor-husband Louis Zor
ich. She taught at New York Uni
versity while playing in soap op
eras and off-Broadway. This might
have been the story of her career
except for a series of events that
started six years ago.
ul did a Christopher Durang play,
The Marriage ofBette and Boo, that
Nora Ephron saw," the actress re
lated. "She recommended me to
Mike N ichols for Heartburn. I played
Meryl Streep's mother and was
eventually cut out of the film. He
cast me in the play Social Security,
which ran for quite a while. Nor
man jewison saw me in that and
put me in Moonstruck."
And what has been the result of
her Oscar win?
"We no longer have a mortgage,"
she said with a laugh. She and her
:; husband live in a 1 00-year-old house
in Montclair, N.J. Associated Press
Some casts are star-studded.
Others are star-crossed.
With five veterans and one
up-and-coming neophyte thrown to
gether for no apparent reason, Steel
Magnolias looks and feels a lot like a
big-screen Love Boat.
And director Herbert Ross (Funny
Girl, The Secret of My Success) has a
little trouble with the vision thing.
He apparently never decided whether
the film was a pithy comedy of man
ners or a top-heavy, tear-jerking ode
to Southern womanhood.
Two of the movie's six stars do
turn in good nay, excellent
performances, though. Olympia
Dukakis, best known for slapping
Cher and yelling "Snap out of it!
You've got a love bite on your neck!"
in Moonstruck, slinks through her
southern-accented role as Clairee
Belcher, the catty grande dame of
Chinquapin, La. Her sultry drawl drips
like honey but stings like a bee. "Like
I always say," she tells Dolly Parton,
"if you can't say anything nice about
anybody, come sit by me."
And that Shirley MacLaine! She
may be kooky, but boy can she act.
As the batty curmudgeon Ouiser
(pronounced "Weezer") Boudreaux, '
MacLaine (with nary a crystal about
her neck) trundles around with her
dog Rhett, the slobbering, neurotic,
balding excuse for a Saint Bernard
(and a fine testimony to Southern
manhood Rhett is, too), and com
plains, complains, complains. She's
just about had enough, what with
marrying two of the most sorry ex
amples of Louisiana manhood ever
produced and spawning three incredi
bly ungrateful children. "I'm not crazy,
M'Lynne," she tells Sally Field. "I've
just been in a bad mood for the last
Dukakis and MacLaine steal the
show with their smart-ass quips. But
a movie can only have so many catchy
one-liners before it becomes trite, and
Steel Magnolias goes back and forth
across that line more often than an
East Berliner on a shopping spree.
Still, they carry the film with
The other Louisiana ladies drift in
and out with agreeable, if not great,
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Dolly Parton (Best Little Whore
house in Texas, Rhinestone) shines in
her first "real" role as the buxom (what
else?), gregarious owner of Truvy's
Hair Salon. Truvy's is the sun around
which the action revolves. (The play
on which the movie is based takes
place entirely at the beauty parlor.)
Because everyone knows Southern
women couldn't live without their
hairdos and gossip.
Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine,
Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts,
Darryl Hannah, Sam Shepard,
directed by Herbert Ross
Speaking of hairdos, Darryl Han
nah (Splash, Blade Runner) does well
finally playing a character whose
thighsfins aren't a motif. But as An
nelle Dupuy, she has this flick's worst
role. Hannah's character is little more
than a stereotype. Mousy. Slow. Des
perate. Religious. Annelle could have
been played by a cardboard cutout
picture of a hayseed; she is almost as
irrelevant as the movie's men.
Hannah has only one good line,
but it's a doozy. "Let me assure you,
my personal tragedy will not inter
fere with my ability to do good hair."
Annelle is a recent beauty school
graduate valedictorian in her class,
it turns out. A newcomer to town,
she was just left by a man who may
or may not have been her husband.
On the other hand, Sally Field
(Gidget, The FlyingNun, Smokey and
the Bandit Part II) has the lead role
and comes very close to botching it.
She reeeeeally stretches for that
best-actress Oscar at the climax. As
the emotional M'Lynn Eatenton,
Field takes the "Would Someone
Please Explain To Me Why Life Is
So Damn Unfair" speech to such a
dramatic extreme that it almost
almost, mind you comes off cheap.
We don't know if we should let her
have another shot at the Academy
Award. Remember last time? "You
All these women are catty, but in
a nice way. Except for Julia Roberts.
Julia Roberts isn't catty.
When Roberts (Mystic Pizza), as
Field's daughter Shelby, walks out in
the first scene, she has a big sign
strapped across her that reads, "I'm
the tragic heroine. Feel sorry for me."
Shelby is a diabetic, and her doc
tor has warned her against having
children. Her body simply cannot take
the strain. Of.course, director Her
bert Ross makes sure it's drummed
into us that Shelby just loves babies
to death. So to speak. .
The ending is telegraphed and
overdone. Shelby gets pregnant.
Shelby suffers, etc., etc., etc. Bring
two hankies and some eyedrops. Ross
wields the movie's final scenes like a
turkey baster, squeezing out every last
Steel Magnolias is a lot like a Chi
nese dinner. It's great at the begin
ning, but two hours into it you're left
feeling a bit empty.
With six you get egg roll.
Erik FUppo and Tom Parks are sen
ior music and psychology majors from
Los Angeles. Syke.
2 no way
11 buzz crush
111 l laughed. I cried. It became
a part of me'
1111 l saw it twice and enjoyed
it both times'
They're up b omeUiing big.
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