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The Piano Lesson (Hallmark Hall of Fame) (1995)

Charles S. Dutton , Alfre Woodard , Lloyd Richards  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Price: $24.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles S. Dutton, Alfre Woodard, Carl Gordon, Tommy Hollis, Lou Myers
  • Directors: Lloyd Richards
  • Writers: August Wilson
  • Producers: August Wilson, Brent Shields, Craig Anderson, Richard Welsh, Robert Bennett Steinhauer
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Hallmark Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 17, 2002
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006SFKF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,888 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Piano Lesson (Hallmark Hall of Fame)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Story of a family divided by their heritage and their dreams for the future. Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, August Wilson's lively domestic drama focuses on a black family in the 1930s and their piano, which dominates the living room of Doaker Charles and his niece Berniece in Pittsburgh. The piano is adorned with the faces of their slave ancestors, carved by a distant relation who was owned by the Sutter family in Mississippi before Emancipation. Berniece's brother Boy Willie, recently released from a prison farm, has come to Pittsburgh from Mississippi with his friend Lymon, determined to sell this ancient piano in which he claims half-ownership.

Charles Dutton, as Boy Willie, Berniece's brother, endows his role with a humor and good-naturedness not obvious from a reading of the play, and his passion to use the money from the sale of the piano to buy a hundred acres of Sutter farmland, which his slave ancestors once worked, is palpable. Courtney B., as Boy Willie's friend Lymon, is credulous and innocent as he explores the city, responding to its differences from the life on the farm, and bringing Berniece (Alfre Woodard) out of the grief she has borne since the shooting death of her husband three years before. Woodard herself is a fierce Berniece, protective of her young daughter and determined to preserve the piano and its heritage.

Directed by Lloyd Richards for the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1995, the screenplay was adapted by August Wilson from his own play. A bit shorter than the original, with offensive expletives omitted for television, the script remains close to the original.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
If you are seriously into dramatic theatre plays, you may agree that re-creations made for movies or televisions are often substandard to the book! In this case, the re-creation was geared toward television/movie quality rather than a reproduction of a stage theatre performance.

And if you are familiar with the works of August Wilson, you will recognize that to adher to the vernacular - spoken language of a region - is critical to the element of his works. In this DVD movie, the use of the N word was omitted and that omission is part of history.

African American playwright, August Wilson was born in 1945 and has received numerous, that include Pulitzer Prize honors, "Fences" in 1987; and "The Piano Lesson" in 1990. Each of his works chronicle a decade in black experience. The Piano Lesson takes place in the depression era, the 30's.

The story revolves around an old carved upright piano that is symbolic with rich family history that dates back to trading slaves. The carvings are stunning and each scene depicts a story filled with vivid description. The plot includes supernatural elements.

Actor Charles Dutton has performed as other characters in Wilson's plays and here he plays Boy Willie. With dreams of owning land like his ancestors, his plan involves selling a piano that belongs to him and his sister Berniece, played by the well-known Alfre Woodard. However, the piano, an heirloom, is a representation of the past and she refuses to sell it. The carvings were done by her grandfather, an enslaved plantation carpenter.

The movie version of the Piano Lesson was done quite well with some stunning performances by seasoned actors.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lesson of My Own January 17, 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I teach language arts, including drama, at a rural high school. I read "The Piano Lesson" and was hoping for a film version that I could show to my students to go along with their reading. This film is true to the play and shows viewers what happens when we don't carry on family traditions and make good use of the gifts and talents we have. The cast and production crew have done a marvelous job of creating a compelling version of this Pulitzer Prize winning play. I highly recommend it for its many levels of enjoyment and learning.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hallmark censorship February 24, 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An already posted review claims that this TV version is true to August Wilson's play. Only partly--and the differences are almost certainly attributable to Hallmark. Wilson adapted his own original stage script, but this version is shorter than the original (which may be a good thing--Wilson does like to let his characters gab) and the language is very different. For example, the nice, politically correct folks who want to sell greeting cards at Hallmark no doubt forced Wilson to remove the numerous instances of the word "ni____" from his play. Some other "rough" language (which can now be heard on the evening news, much less TV fiction) also failed to pass Hallmark's censors.
The TV production also "opens" the play from its original setting in Doaker's living room and kitchen and adds a silent, visual accompaniment to Doaker's marvelous tale about the family piano.
Do these changes damage the play? No, but they certainly do alter its flavor.
On one hand, I'm very happy that this great Black American playwright allowed one of his scripts to have a TV production and that we now have this video record of that production. On the other hand, it seems a shame that Wilson had to compromise his artistry in order to reach a wider audience than theatre itself can supply.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movie.
Published 13 days ago by Penny
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Family favorite
Published 1 month ago by daqueshea mccarty
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see
Awesome story. My family laughs and cries every time we see this movie. One of my all-time favorites.
Published 1 month ago by FitFemmeFatale
5.0 out of 5 stars August Wilson's classic Piano Lesson
Wonderful acting. Great story. I loved it. See The Piano lesson.
Published 1 month ago by Derrick Emerson
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a wonderful adaptation of the August Wilson play
This was a wonderful adaptation of the August Wilson play. I am a High School English teacher and after reading the play my students viewed the DVD as a cinema arts study project. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lisa Cooper-Merriman
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PIANO LESSON
Published 4 months ago by Robert R. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars It was okay
Came on time as was what it was advertised to be. Good for the purpose it was purchased for. Would recommend it.
Published 5 months ago by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST BUY!
Why Hallmark has not promoted this movie as much as the other ones, I do not know. SUPERB MOVIE. 10 STARS.
Funny, full of history, brings back memories. Read more
Published 7 months ago by LM
4.0 out of 5 stars Piano Lesson Feedbac
The piano lesson was a long time movie that i wanted on dvd i am so glad to have it. The price was good as well, this is a very good movie i think about family ties, and how we as... Read more
Published 10 months ago by cynthia lindsay
5.0 out of 5 stars I've always loved this movie
I first watched this movie in middle school over 15 years ago. I had to buy it because i kept renting it from the library.
I let my kids watch it and they love it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Christina S.
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