After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city ...
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After his mother's death, Collin Fenwick goes to live with his father's cousins, the wealthy, avaricious, and controlling Verena Talbo, and her compliant, earthy sister Dolly. When a city slicker comes to town and convinces Verena to market Dolly's locally-famous tonic, Dolly finally gets some backbone, refuses to divulge the formula, and heads for a tree house with Collin and Catherine, the loyal maid. Verena, who has most of the town in her pocket, sics the law on the renegades. Dolly, Catherine, and Collin find a supporter in a retired judge, Charlie Cool, who's attracted to Dolly. Will Verena's venom win out? And what about that city slicker?Written by
"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 Grass 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.
Those looking for action adventure and hot romance should look elsewhere. But there are a lot of "Mockingbird" fans out there who should really enjoy "The Grass Harp".
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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