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Silent Tongue [VHS] (1994)

Alan Bates , Richard Harris , Sam Shepard  |  PG-13 |  VHS Tape
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alan Bates, Richard Harris, River Phoenix, Dermot Mulroney, Sheila Tousey
  • Directors: Sam Shepard
  • Writers: Sam Shepard
  • Producers: Bill Yahraus, Carolyn Pfeiffer, Catherine Scheinman, Gene Rosow, Ludi Boeken
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Vidmark / Trimark
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303113192
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,674 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Sam Shepard, the writer/director of "Silent Tongue," is one of the big names in contemporary American theatre. So it comes as no surprise that his two feature films--also, "Far North"--have a distinctly theatrical tone. General audiences may not have a taste for this, but Shepard's films do reward additional viewings, and both have grown on me in a big way.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal ghost story. Very theatrical in tone. November 22, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Sam Shepard, the writer/director of "Silent Tongue," is one of the big names in contemporary American theatre. So it comes as no surprise that his two feature films--also, "Far North"--have a distinctly theatrical tone. General audiences may not have a taste for this, but Shepard's films do reward additional viewings, and both have grown on me in a big way.

"Silent Tongue" is a ghost story which uncovers a disturbing sickness at the heart of the Old West. River Phoenix becomes mentally unhinged when his Native American bride dies in childbirth. This sends his father, Richard Harris, on a journey to try and find another woman for his son. Exhibiting tragically limited imagination, the father returns to the traveling circus where he traded horses for the first woman, and he attempt a second bargain for the woman's sister. In the end, the sister must confront the dead woman's ghost, and we learn the dark secret of their past.

Phoenix is eerily convincing as the mad Talbot Roe, and Richard Harris is uncharacteristic low-key as the world-weary Prescott Roe. My only complaint is Dermot Mulroney who is miscast and unable to make his character's diction convincing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is love? October 15, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In a tribute, a Rolling Stone reviewer suggested this was the quintessential River Phoenix movie. I disagree, he gives a much better performance in 'My Own Private Idaho' but this story is better written. It's not really a western, though it is set in that time and place we nostalgically yearn for, with stark wide open spaces in hues of tan and brown. There's lots of dust and horses and broken people trying to mend their fragile lives. There's even a snake oil salesman and his son, complete with sideshow and assorted freaks. Richard Harris plays a father who loves his son (Phoenix) so much that he will purchase a wife for his sad and lonely child, but when she dies in childbirth, why not purchase her twin sister from the shifty, snake oil hawker who fathered them? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Phoenix broods over the body of his lost love wrapping her in hides and suspending her body in a dead tree. He will not let her go and her spirit doesn't want to stay. Her soul visits him in visions that become so real to him that he almost shoots himself. He can't or won't do it, to join her would be love, to hold on to her is pure selfishness. Her twin sister knows that the dead are powerful and she agrees to help Harris break the hold his son has on her sister, but then she's outta there. Conceived in rape, she knows that she is a double second class citizen. One, she's a woman, and two she's half white and half native. She has nothing but her wits and a dark opportunity to free herself from her father and his mad schemes. She'll take four horses for her trouble and the hope for a new life. (Even the female actresses, who deliver wonderful performances, are overshadowed by their male co-stars in the marketing of this film. Read more ›
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, NO, BELIEVEABLE February 16, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
One of the best. I've read the critics' reviews of Sam Shepard's directorial effort, hogwash. If you don't like what Shepard did in this one, you've missed the point of the movie. You can't roller-skate in a buffalo herd! There are two tragedies to this film: one, it has gone so unnoticed as a whole; two, Sheila Tousey has gone so unnoticed. I believe this is the greatest Native American actress. Couple this with Mr. Bates, Harris, Mulroney, Pheonix, Shepard and Ms. Arredondo, and it was a loser in any way??????
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy - 2.35:1 image is cropped to 1.33:1 June 26, 2005
Format:DVD
Regional encoding is a sly device. People in the U.S., for instance, who want to see Sam Shepard's 1994 film 'Silent Tongue' will have to watch this bottom-of-the-barrel, pan-and-scan frisbee thrown out by Lions Gate. Meanwhile, folks in Germany have a decent 2.35:1 transfer with Region 2 encoding, which excludes most interested U.S. consumers.

Lions Gate. These folks are getting worse, more brazen in their lack of integrity. I mean, consider their cynical chop-and-dub job on the new release 'High Tension,' or their heavy promotion and wide distribution of garbage like 'House of 1000 Corpses' and 'Confidence' and simultaneous neglect of acclaimed films like 'Stevie' and 'May.'

The expense associated with giving consumers a 2.35:1 transfer is only marginally above that of a 1.33:1 transfer. The Lions Gate people are clearly bottom-line bean-counters who we must all hope will go bankrupt and disappear into a pile of ashes, if there's any justice in the world. Lot 47, Cowboy Pictures... it's the good guys who usually die, while rotters like Lions Gate live on with an undeserved longevity.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If only... November 18, 2001
By Brandon
Format:VHS Tape
As a true fan of River Phoenix I approach any film he's done with an incredibly open mind - maybe moreso than I should. Silent Tongue is a beautifully scripted and written Western revolving around a young man's loss of a loved one. Phoenix actually has only a dozen or so lines - with his silence though, he speaks volumes. His absorbtion of this character is flawless and eerily truthful. Richard Harris is wonderful here as in everything he does. His part is also not very wordy. In fact much of the film is wihtout dialogue. This creates a wonderful sense of the isolation of that era. It also allows the characters to be explored introspectively and with great depth. The true test of an actor is if he can embody the character with no lines; existing solely with his very being. Here River shows sheer perfection; conveying painfully his character's torment with only his body and his eyes!
However, this is where my praise for the film stops. Though it must have been an amazingly beautiful story to read, much was lost in translating it to film. Dermot Mulrooney has a large role. He botches it masterfully by grunting/shouting all his lines as though trying to reach predominately deaf people in the back row of a Theater he's not in. The effect is that none of what he says sounds honest, but more like a experimental, high school drama class failure. This is sad because in every other film I've seen him, he does a solid acting job worthy of much notice. There are also several scenes which are unnecessarily drawn out and campy. And as someone who loves the 1956 classic "Giant" which runs 3 1/2 hours, it takes a lot for me to call any scene in a Western drawn out.
Sam Shephard, Writer and Director of Silent Tongue, has produced dozens of brilliant plays etc.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Silent Tongue
I like all three of the actors and the potential for a good western story. The story just wandered and had no depth. Wouldn't buy thid DVD.
Published 12 months ago by Kermit
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth Watching
Silent Tongue, 1996 film

This story is set in 1873 (the time of an economic depression). We see objects suspended from a tree. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ray Stephanson
3.0 out of 5 stars you can't con a conman
Irishman Richard Harris played a Western adventurer many times, including the successful A Man Called Horse franchise. Read more
Published 14 months ago by likes good books, music, movies
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a watch again; Keeper
I ordered it for a friend who wanted it for the " Red Clay Ramblers " blue grass band, who appear as the music on stage, and wrote the score, but I love the story. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Thomas A. Owen Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars silent tongue
I love the movie . Saw it years ago when it was fairly new . I just can't undersatnd why I can't find this movie in widescreen . I know it exist cause I've looked it up before . Read more
Published on March 18, 2012 by Gerry Hodges Jr.
3.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, hypnotic, and sometimes confusing
A young man (River Phoenix) is grief-stricken by the death of his Indian wife. So much so that he guards over her corpse in the middle of the desert, with nothing but a rifle and... Read more
Published on June 28, 2010 by Eric S. Kim
1.0 out of 5 stars The most boring western I have ever seen.
Shut it off after a while. It was so slow getting started that I just could not get into the dull plot. I guess I'm not artsy-fartsy enough to understand it. Read more
Published on November 3, 2004 by Steven Rhodes
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star gem
this is great work,the story line alone is 5 stars all the actors male/female are extremely good.veiw this asap
Published on September 29, 2004 by graham
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