FILMS… Some Monumental Roles from Olympia Dukakis

 

Recalling Olympia Dukakis in two of her more well known roles…

 

Just two on screen tales from this Oscar Award Winning Actress.

 

 

I was sad to learn about the passing of Olympia Dukakis and shocked to see that I had only reviewed from her filmography just once. This actress seemed multi-talented with her many skills including producer, director and activist. This actress appeared in many powerful roles on the big and wee screen and on Broadway.

These roles included a wife whose husband has Alzheimer’s Disease in the film Away from Her (2006) and Anna Madrigal in the Tales of the City series. She was a permanent presence in this show throughout its various tellings on TV. These from Tales of the City (1993) to the more recent 2019 series of the same name. Last year, she was tributed in a biographical documentary in Olympia (2020).

 

Moonstruck (1987)

Moonstruck Official Trailer #1 – Nicolas Cage Movie (1987) HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers

In this Norman Jewison directed romantic comedy movie, Dukakis won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her wonderful performance. Jewison hired her for this role immediately after she read for the part of the matriarch Rose Castorini. Dukakis also won a Golden Globe and other prolific awards including a BAFTA and American Comedy Award for this role, in which she part improvised her script.

Although the emphasis of the film is on her on screen daughter Loretta’s (Cher) turbulent love life as she decides between her fiance, Johnny (Danny Aiello) and his much younger brother Ronny, (Nicolas Cage). In Dukakis’ role, you see her concerns as a mother who seems happy her daughter with a man she doesn’t love as if you love them “they drive you crazy”. As a wife, she believes her husband Cosmo is cheating on her.

Rose gives her daughter advice on her love life and her on-screen mother and daughter relationship with Cher is credible and at times amusing. Movie Quotes adds this scene…

Rose Castorini: Do you love him, Loretta?

Loretta Castorini: Aw, ma, I love him awful.

Rose Castorini: Oh, God, that’s too bad.

On a night with a full moon (which Rose’s father in law believes will lead to romance), Rose is seen having dinner alone as she witnesses a college professor Perry (John Mahoney) being dumped publically in a restaurant by his girlfriend. They discuss why they believe men cheat on women, and she believes that it is as men are afraid of death.

Rose offers to have him join her at her table but is loyal to her husband after he walks her home. She is then seen as having romantic troubles of her own as she prays and confronts her husband Cosmo about his mistress over a family breakfast.

Dukakis gave a strong performance in this movie and often steals the show from her on screen family.  Mental Floss reports that Dukakis states that she said of this film;

“It’s like somebody said ‘Look, she waited all these years, let’s give her something good,’” she said on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. “And it was incredible. And that changed my whole life. My daughter was going to college on credit cards when I did that movie. After that, we were able to send our children to college with no problems.”

This was just one of many maternal roles played by Dukakis. These as varied as her first role in films simply labelled as “Young Mother” in Twice a Man (1964), Dustin Hoffman’s mother in John and Mary (1969) and Kirstie Alley’s mum in the Look Who’s Talking franchise (1989-93).

 

Steel Magnolias (1989)

Steel Magnolias (1989) – Trailer, Katy Peplin

I saw her years ago in the drama comedy, Steel Magnolias. She starred as Clairee Belcher in the lengthy roll call of actresses of the day including Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Shirley MacClaine in this never ending ensemble cast. The men in their lives are husbands, lovers or have passed away and are played by a sterling group of actors including Tom Skerritt and Sam Shepherd.

This film is a movie about the close friendships of a group of women who all live in Chinquapin, a small Louisiana town. Many of the scenes take place in the local beauty parlour run by Truvy (Dolly Parton). The film starts as Shelby (Julia Roberts) and her family prepare for her wedding and the main plot telling about diabetic Shelby’s desire to have a baby. This despite concerns from her doctor that it may lead to serious complications and her mother M’Lynn (Sally Field).

However, as the Mayor’s wealthy widow, Clairee, Dukakis has another great script with some fantastic one-liners, which she delivers brilliantly and she adds presence to this witty character. For her role, the AFI stated that Dukakis was taught “an affluent, “plantation style” accent” by her life coach.

IMDb has a lengthy list of quotes from this role, which show her character as a great fun companion.  All these quotes from just her character make me so want to watch this movie again…

Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!

and

[about the new mayor’s wife dancing]  Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.

And it is her on-screen rapport with Dolly Parton and the others that makes you smile through the tears of this 1980s weepie (and yes I cried). For her role in the movie, Dukakis was nominated for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture by the American Comedy Awards.

In researching this actress, it seems I have so many more film and TV Series to watch her in, and I have just started to watch her in the 1993 series Tales in the City. Reading more it’s set in my favourite era, the on-screen 70s. It also has a cast of great names including Laura Linny and Chloe Webb.  This is then the perfect combination for a Realweegiemidget Review.. so watch this place for a further review of this actress, possibly before the next full moon…

 

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