As a southern woman, what can I say about Steel Magnolias. I remember this movie as one of my mother’s favorite films, alongside another classic, Fried Green Tomatoes. I’m going to be honest here. I often wondered how a movie about six southern white women appealed to my black southern mother. I soon found out when I watched the movie for myself.
Let’s start off top. The studio was able to get Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton and Shirley McClain in one film. So we start with a super cast. Then, let’s go to the scenes in the salon. CLASSIC SCENES. Not only for the story that continued in the shop but as southern women, we were those women in our local salon gossiping about the goings on in the town. Dolly Parton had such a calm about her in that salon and that’s what we needed in her character. We’re introduced to a rebel of a daughter, Shelby, and her equally strong mother, M’Lynn, which is such a southern name. The dynamic between Field and Roberts was PHENOMENAL. We could not have asked for a better duo in a film like this that would lead us to need all the tissues in the tissue box.
Just when we thought we had the best duo in Field and Roberts, we get McClain and Dukakis as Ousier and Clairee. Listen, Ousier is every old southern woman who is just set in her ways and sick of everyone. She also was the bane of Drum’s existence.
Let’s talk about what stuck with us to make this movie a classic. I touched on it earlier but I want to reiterate the fact that Sally Field and Julia Roberts as mother and daughter was a match that cannot be rivaled. The scene where Shelby tells her mom that she’s pregnant and M’Lynn tells her that there are things she just can’t do. That line broke my heart because as a person with Shelby’s condition you can imagine how many times she’s wanted to do things and was shot down because her being diabetic. We all know M’Lynn wants the best for Shelby but it seems a bit overwhelming throughout the movie. Her rebuttal was beautiful. She tells her, “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing” and that’s what she had until the day she died.
I loved how we are introduced to this town and this group of women through the new girl in town, Annelle. Annelle is a shy, clumsy woman who is trying to figure out what she’s doing. She such a sweet woman and it’s a good thing she found this group of women because she needed this friend group to help her find herself.
The wedding was blush and bashful, otherwise known as pink and pink. I saw the distinction. I believed in the colors because it’s what she wanted LOL.
Now, from the time Shelby collapses at home until the funeral, all of us had to clutch the tissue box. The scene that got me was when they turned all the machines off. Much like Boyz n the Hood, I get to that part of the movie and always have that feeling that Shelby can wake up and make a miraculous recovery. She does not and it gets me every time.
The funeral scene. Man, probably one of the best scenes in movie history. The built-up frustration of trying to keep her daughter safe all seemed for not because she died. However, as a viewer, we know that Shelby lived her life the way she saw fit, and whether she lived or died, she was happy. The part that gets us all to laugh is when M’Lynn exclaims that she’s so mad that she could hit something and Clairee offers Ouiser as a punching bag. I really want to know if that scene was improvised because Shirley McClain looks terrified.
Usually, I had ambiguous endings, but in this case, it was fitting. Annelle goes into labor at the Easter egg hunt as her husband scrambles to get her to the hospital. After all that crying, this is what we needed to make us smile, southern women yelling and grabbing men for the benefit of one miracle.
Tell me, who is your favorite character? Did you agree with blush and bashful as the wedding colors? I’ll tell you, my mom and I liken ourselves to Ouiser who I would like to say did not have to plant vegetables if she didn’t want to. Yes, it’s a think to plan things in the South but if it didn’t make her happy, she didn’t have to do it. LOL