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The Grass Harp (1996)

Joe Don Baker , Charles Durning , Charles Matthau  |  PG |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joe Don Baker, Charles Durning, Wilson, Scott
  • Directors: Charles Matthau
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 19, 2005
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0XAA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,383 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Grass Harp" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Truman Capote's autobiographical story is turned into a sweet-natured coming-of-age film centered on a young boy who is sent by his widower father to live with his two aunts in a small Southern town in the 1940s. The boy learns a series of important lessons from the women, one of whom is stern and greedy, the other simple and good-natured. The superb cast includes Edward Furlong, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Piper Laurie, Jack Lemmon, and Walter Matthau. 107 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo Surround; Subtitles: English, Spanish; theatrical trailer. NOTE: This Title Is Out Of Print; Limit One Per Customer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Set in the 30's, The Grass Harp is a story about an orphan boy who is sent to live with his eccentric aunts. The story follows the plight of social "outcasts" with humor and insight.

On the surface this story is about love and our connections to others - both living and dead. Yet underneath run themes of social prejudice, racial inequality, religion, morals and the struggles of social conformity vs. individual expression - but the film never preaches. It just reveals.

Director Charles Matthau accomplished the near-impossible task of adapting Truman Capote's classic book into a beautiful rendered film. Wisely, he approached this multi-layered story with a light touch, allowing the material and talent to shine. Matthau skillfully captures a myriad of complex relationships and emotions, allowing the characters to live and breathe without placing judgment on who they are.

The boy's coming-of-age story is entertaining, humorous and poignant. As the film unfolds, Collin encounters a diverse group of characters, from which he gains valuable insights about life. Now an adult he looks back (as the narrator) reflecting on this formative time.

Each character is uniquely distinct and true-to-life. The entire all-star cast is at the top of their game.

This is the best performance of Piper Laurie's career. She is delicate and mesmerizing as the fragile Dolly Talbo. Her scenes with Spacey and Matthau will break your heart.

For those of you who have only seen Walter Matthau in grumpy curmudgeon roles, you are in for a treat! Matthau is wonderful as a Judge Cool, a Southern gentleman struggling to find meaning in his retirement years. As Piper Laurie's love interest he is tender and charming yet dignified.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely performances and interesting casting July 25, 2007
Format:DVD
I adore this movie. I saw it quite awhile ago, so I can't give many specifics, but you can read the other reviews for commentary on the performances. An ensemble cast rather than a real star turn for anyone, with the exception of Piper Laurie. Laurie is always wonderful in her varied roles, and this is a very sweet and graceful conception of a child-like character. She never plays it for laughs, and the portrayal does not indicate that childlike here is equivalent to childish or emotionally disturbed. Poor Sissy Spacek is cast as a typical "old maid/prude", unfortunately; the writer(s) might have made the two women's roles less extreme in their behavior, but it does contribute to the reconciliation at the end. I think I will put this movie on my wishlist. By the way, I came across this movie on an [...] list that gave a rundown of all the movies the very interesting Mia Kirshner has been in. I don't remember her being in the movie, and apparently she had a small role, but it makes me even more eager to see the movie again. She's hot, and I love her on "The L Word". One more note--I have never particularly liked
Walter Matthau, but he does an amazing job with his role. It's worth it to see the very elderly Matthau wrap up his career with an attractive acting job. The title of the movie aptly reflects the airy tone of the story--there is a kind of windy music flowing throughout the performance.
See it at least once!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Grass Harp sings! March 26, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Truman Capote's memoir of his past is translated to the movie screen with the right kind of homage that it deserves. Colin Fenwick, orphaned in his youth, is sent to live with his two maiden aunts and their eccentric housekeeper. The awakening of his senses of the outside world is shaped by these women. Vereena-the hardened bussinesswoman, Dolly-the free spirit filled with a warmth that is like a comfortable blanket on a cold winter morning, and Catherine-the opinionated but loyal and protective housekeeper. Charles Matthau has given us a movie devoid of the tastelessness that permeates most Hollywood movies these days. We move lazily along (as it was in the South) getting to know each character intimately and at the end, we are the richer for it. BRAVO!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grass Harp June 28, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you like movies like "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Crimes of the Heart", or "Practical Magic" then you'll love this Southern tale. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy recently orphaned by his mother and a seemingly uncaring, grieving father. Sent to live with a mis-matched pair of spinster Aunts, the boy learns that love is not always what it seems and can be found in the most unlikely characters.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the grass harp, excellent! February 22, 2006
Format:DVD
I loved this film adaptation of Truman Capote's classic novel. Even if you haven't read the book, the movie stands on its own and conveys the wit, humor and depth of the characters as intended by the author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Undiscovered Gem August 21, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
One of the best films EVER made. Hypnotic, beautifully acted and photographed, treasure. Sure to inspire, amuse, and forever change anyone who opens their heart to this stunning film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very heartwarming October 13, 2012
Format:DVD
I love this movie! It is full of great actors. I have watched it over and over again! This movie has humor, drama and it touches you in an unique way.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Story March 4, 2007
Format:DVD
"The Grass Harp" (1995) will remind a lot of viewers of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Not a huge surprise given that both stories involve Truman Capote's childhood (Harper Lee based the Dill Harris character on Capote). Both films also use small Alabama towns for their locations.

Capote loosely based his 1951 "The Glass Harp" novella on the eccentric maiden cousins of his childhood. For the film Piper Laurie plays good Aunt Dolly and Sissy Spacek bad Aunt Verena (who is even less likable than Pollyanna's Aunt Polly). Spacek gets to do something out of character and nicely underplays this one. Laurie gets to have even more fun and turns in a joyful performance. She is a little too good to be true but Laurie manages to sell the character with a remarkable performance. In the 1950's Laurie was an extremely pretty (and hot) young starlet but it is obvious from this and her performance in "Carrie" (playing Spacek's mother) that there was a lot of substance in that pretty package.

Edward Furlong (best know as John Conner in "Terminator 2") avoids the "Pollyanna" trap and is pretty easy to take. The coming-of-age side of the story works quite well.

"The Grass Harp" is a bit underrated, probably because the screenplay fails to capture the lyrical quality of Capote's storytelling, giving the viewer a surfeit of sentimentality compounded by a too sweet score. The title is a reference to the musical sound of blowing grass, a metaphor about intergenerational connections and the primary theme of the story.

The film would have benefited from a little more restraint. This is not a fatal flaw but the film would have been more powerful with Mockingbird's toned down production design and less colorful characters; maybe even going so far as to release it in black and white.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb cast.. heartwarming ensemble, Southern tale.
Excellent cast, appealing characters, southern tale which appears to be at least partially autobiographical of Truman Capote. Highly recommend this movie.
Published 1 month ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars loved this movie!
I really love this old movie. I first saw it many years ago and loved the stars and the story.
Published 1 month ago by Barbara Caffey
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
This is a great family movie to watch any time. The acting is great and the characters fit the part. They did a wonderful job with the set and everything. Read more
Published 2 months ago by MiMi
5.0 out of 5 stars What I thought of The Grass Harp
I love this movie it is one of my favorites. It is a very heartwarming story. The acting is wonderful. A wonderful family movie. I can watch it again and again.
Published 3 months ago by Becky Keaton
2.0 out of 5 stars don't bother
I was so happy to see the end of this disjointed, syrupy film. I almost laughed aloud at the soap opera scenes. Read more
Published 3 months ago by epterr
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
was a nice movie, would be good for the whole family to watch.
had some sad scenes, but that's life.
Published 7 months ago by James Richard Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart warming story with great acting to be sure.
How I enjoyed this film. It is a warm and touching story which is among those which the whole family can sit and enjoy. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Henri Pelletier
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies ever.
I love this movie and would recommend this movie to anyone. The seller got it to me very prompt. Anyone who loves a great family movie will love this one.
Published 10 months ago by melissa
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful movie
A star studded awesome movie. I really enjoyed it. Really listen next time you are in a meadow or near some tall grassy field.
Published 11 months ago by charlotte
5.0 out of 5 stars Why was THE star Piper Laurie not on the cover? A disappointment.
This was PIper Laurie's movie. The film and story were profoundly beautiful. Walter Matthau and Piper Laurie worked so well together. Read more
Published 16 months ago by iris
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