YEAR: 1989

ROLE:  Spud Jones

DIRECTOR:  Herbert Ross

THEATER PREMIERE:  November 5, 1989

Plot Summary

Based on Robert Harling's play. Pivoting around the lively Truvy Jones' Louisiana beauty parlour, a tightly-knit band of friends, confront grief, loss, life's unforeseen tragedies and heartaches with what they do best: gossiping and sharing. The spirited diabetic and bride-to-be, Shelby; her always supportive mother, M'Lynn; Truvy's gawky assistant, Annelle; the city's curmudgeon, Ouiser; and the town's former first lady, Clairee, are the warm Southern belles who know how to survive life's challenges with their unwavering friendship. But when Shelby decides to conceive, things will turn upside down..


Julia ROBERTS - Shelby Eatenton Latcherie
Sally FIELD - M'Lynn Eatenton
Dolly PARTON - Truvy Jones
Shirley MACLAINE - Ouiser Boudreaux
Daryl HANNAH - Annelle Dupuy Desoto
Olympia DUKAKIS - Clairee Belcher
Tom SKERITT - Drum Eatenton
Dylan MCDERMOTT - Jackson Latcherie

Production Notes:

Once Harling agreed to a movie deal, legendary actress Bette Davis began campaigning for a role in the movie. She had seen the play in New York and desperately wanted to play Ouiser. Apparently, she thought Katharine Hepburn would make a great Clairee and she wanted Elizabeth Taylor to play Truvy. Other actresses considered for the role of Shelby were Meg Ryan, Laura Dern and Winona Ryder. I think Julia Roberts was the perfect choice! Although Daryl Hannah was told she was too attractive for the role of reclusive Anelle, she did not take “no” for an answer and showed up for her audition without the casting directors recognizing her.

Production began at the end of June 1988 in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Filming lasted through Labor Day and all the stars lived in houses in the old town.

Publicity Stills

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:
"Male characters — heard of but never seen onstage — turn up in the persons of Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott and Kevin J. O’Connor. But men are not the point in this film. 'Steel Magnolias' belongs to its actresses, who have tapped into some fundamental truths about the strength women derive from one another. Stale contrivances can’t stop them. The ladies are live wires. Just stand back and watch them set off sparks."

David Parkinson, Radio Times:
"Director Herbert Ross times every gag and tear to perfection, but he fails to find enough for the guys to do, which is a shame as Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard and Dylan McDermott are all good enough actors to give strong performances without having to hold centre stage. This is a little too dependent on sassy one-liners and is awash with sentiment by the end, but is still wonderful entertainment."

Angie Errigo, Empire Online:
"Dolly Parton is on safe ground as gutsy, good-hearted, hair-teasing Truvy, rejoicing in some hilarious one-liners and the opportunity to roll in the sack with Sam Shepard. The inclusion at all of the oft-discussed husbands, lovers and sons is half-hearted. Shepard blinks in and out to little effect and only Tom Skerritt as Fields’ husband creates a real presence."

Glenn Erickson, DVD Talk:
The movie opens up the play to include the men in these women's lives as well as a snapshot of Chinquapin across a couple of years' worth of beautiful Louisiana seasons. But the story still sticks close to an interesting, amusing group of women. Working out of her garage, hairdresser Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) freely admits that she wants to hear every bit of news from around town. Her husband Spud (Sam Shepard) is fatally handsome but chronically unemployed."

Chris Hicks, Deseret News:
"What gives the movie its energy is clearly the star power involved. All the actors here are good in their roles, but the standouts are clearly Parton in a subdued, realistic down-home performance, and MacLaine, in a flamboyant tour de force."

Variety Magazine:
"Robert Harling’s play is set solely in the beauty parlor where his heroines – a group of the liveliest, warmest Southern women imaginable – gather to dish dirt, crack jokes, do hair and give one another some solid, post-feminist emotional support."

Heather Bremer, The Herald Bulletin:
"'Steel Magnolias' is blessed with both a light heart and meaningful soul and serves a moving tribute to the relationships women share and the sacrifices they make for their families."