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The Grass Harp (1996)

Joe Don Baker , Charles Durning , Charles Matthau  |  PG |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0XAA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,752 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Grass Harp" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Following the death of his parents young Collin Fenwick (Edward Furlong) comes to a small southern town to live with his father's cousins Verena and Dolly Talbo. He soon discovers that the Talbo household is anything but normal. Verena (Sissy Spacek) rules the house as well as the entire town with a stern hand. Meanwhile her older sister Dolly (Piper Laurie) charms Collin with her gentle romantic spirit. To escape Verena's oppression Dolly Collin and the Talbo's eccentric maid Catherine (Nell Carter) run away to an old tree house in the woods. But their adventure sparks a series of events that will change not just their lives but the future of the entire town as well.Running Time: 107 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA UPC: 794043803628

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely performances and interesting casting July 25, 2007
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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9 of 10 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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5 of 5 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Story March 4, 2007
"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 Sweet story
This is just a sweet movie with a fun cast.
Published 1 month ago by NellieB
5.0 out of 5 stars A most see!
The story is intriguing, and you actually feel for the different characters. The actors do well, and the story is thougtful. A good movie for a rainy day.
Published 2 months ago by Beth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my most favorite Truman Capote stories. Watch it over and over again.
Published 2 months ago by Doña María
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
no comment
Published 2 months ago by none
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good old fashion movie. The filming was excellant
Published 3 months ago by Arnie
1.0 out of 5 stars Movie was great, quality of video was terrible
First of all, this was a fabulous movie, I could watch it again and again. I paid for the HD version of the movie. HD was sporadic, at best. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Karen Stitt
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies
HIGHLY underrated! Based on a wonderful book by Truman Capote. It is like a painting by a talented artist: light touches in the story line here and there are not, in themselves,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lori
1.0 out of 5 stars bad recording
Sound is faulty on DVD
Not usable. Look elsewhere for your purchase.waste of money.It is a lovely story, just not on this recording.
Published 5 months ago by carol an
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this film
. Rare and moving. Very beautiful. Older film that holds up with a wonderful performance by Piper Laurie. Don.t miss!
Published 5 months ago by Gale Bradley
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
I like Capote's stuff and most of the actors and actresses did well with the roles he wrote of. Mary Steenburgen can kill a movie faster than any actress I know though. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dianne Price
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