- Dolores Claiborne (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Taylor Hackford Produced by Charles Mulvehill
Written by Tony Gilroy Starring Kathy Bates
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Gabriel Beristain Editing by Mark Warner Studio Castle Rock Entertainment Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) March 24, 1995
Sept. 8 , 1995
Running time 132 minutes Country United States Language English Box office $24,361,867
Dolores Claiborne (Bates), a middle-aged but strong-willed woman who works as a domestic servant in a coastal town in Maine, is heard having an argument with her elderly, paralyzed employer Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt), after which Vera falls down the stairs. Dolores ransacks the kitchen and is then caught by a mailman as she stands over Vera with a rolling pin, apparently intending to kill Vera. Vera dies and Dolores is charged with her murder.
Dolores' daughter, Selena St. George (Leigh), a journalist, arrives in town to support her mother. Dolores insists that she did not kill her wealthy employer, but she finds little sympathy, as the entire town believes she murdered her husband, Joe St. George (David Strathairn) almost 20 years earlier. Detective John Mackey (Christopher Plummer), the chief detective in her husband's murder case, is determined to put Dolores away for life.
Selena also believes that Dolores killed her father, and so has not spoken to her mother in over a decade. As the film develops, it is revealed that Joe was an abusive alcoholic, and that one night she had threatened to kill him if he ever harmed her again. The film's flashbacks also reveal that Dolores started to suspect Joe of molesting Selena. Dolores went to work for Vera Donovan as a housemaid in order to raise enough money for her to take Selena and flee Joe's wrath, but the plan backfired when Joe started stealing the money from Selena's account.
Back in the present, Dolores says that Vera had begged Dolores to kill her, something Mackey refuses to believe; he reveals that Vera has left her entire fortune to Dolores. Mackey informs them that the will is eight years old, which nearly convinces Selena that her mother is guilty. After a fierce argument, Selena storms out, leaving her mother to fend for herself.
Dolores finally decides that it is time to reveal the truth to Selena: She did in fact kill Joe, and it was actually Vera who suggested the plan to her. Dolores says that she had been pushed to the breaking point upon finding out that Joe had been molesting his own daughter, which Selena furiously denies.
In a flashback to a scene some 20 years before, Vera engages in her regular ritual of berating Dolores, who breaks down crying and confesses her troubled home life. An uncharacteristically sympathetic Vera implies that she killed her recently deceased husband Jack, and engineered it to look like an accident. Vera's confession forms a bond between the two women and allows Dolores to take control of her own situation and future.
As a total solar eclipse approaches, Dolores sends Selena away for the week to work at a hotel to raise money from the high number of tourists. Joe soon returns from a holiday, and as a "treat," Dolores buys him a bottle of whisky. After Joe gets drunk, Dolores reveals that she knows that Joe has been stealing from Selena's account and molesting his own daughter. Dolores lures Joe into falling down an old well, leaving him to die as he plunges to the stone bottom.
Selena hears the story on a tape left for her by Dolores, who had foreseen her departure. While on the ferry, Selena suddenly uncovers a long-repressed memory of her father molesting her, and realizes that Dolores had killed Joe to protect her. She rushes back to her mother, who is attending the coroner's inquest, in which Mackey makes a case she be sent to a grand jury in an attempt to indict her for murder. Selena tells the police they have no evidence and that despite an often-stormy relationship, Vera and Dolores loved each other. Knowing that he has no admissible evidence, Mackey reluctantly drops the case.
Dolores and Selena make amends on a wharf before Selena returns to New York. The film ends with Dolores preparing to start a new life with the fortune she has inherited from Vera.
Actor Role Kathy Bates Dolores Claiborne Jennifer Jason Leigh Selena St. George Judy Parfitt Vera Donovan Christopher Plummer Detective John Mackey David Strathairn Joe St. George Eric Bogosian Peter John C. Reilly Constable Frank Stamshaw Ellen Muth Young Selena Bob Gunton Mr. Pease Roy Cooper Magistrate Wayne Robson Sammy Marchant Ruth Marshall Secretary Weldon Allen Bartender Tom Gallant Searcher Kelly Burnett Jack Donovan
The film was shot in Westport, Nova Scotia; Digby and Brier Island, Nova Scotia provided the ferry and wharf-side scenes. A house in Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia served as the St. George family home. Chester, Nova Scotia, Riverport, Nova Scotia at the Confidence Lodge, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia provided other locations.
Media based on Stephen King works FilmsIndividual filmsThe Shining (1980) • Cujo (1983) • The Dead Zone (1983) • Christine (1983) • Cat's Eye (1985) • Silver Bullet (1985) • Stand by Me (1986) • The Running Man (1987) • Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) • Graveyard Shift (1990) • Misery (1990) • Sleepwalkers (1992) • The Dark Half (1993) • Needful Things (1993) • The Shawshank Redemption (1994) • Dolores Claiborne (1995) • Thinner (1996) • The Night Flier (1997) • Apt Pupil (1998) • The Green Mile (1999) • Hearts in Atlantis (2001) • Dreamcatcher (2003) • Secret Window (2004) • Riding the Bullet (2004) • 1408 (2007) • The Mist (2007) • Dolan's Cadillac (2009) • It (2011)Film seriesCarrieCreepshowFirestarterFirestarter (1984) • Rekindled (2002)Pet SemataryThe Lawnmower ManThe Lawnmower Man (1992) • Beyond Cyberspace (1996)The ManglerThe Dark TowerThe Dark Tower (2013) TelevisionSingle films or miniseriesGramma (1986) • Sorry, Right Number (1987) • It (1990) • Golden Years (1991) • The Tommyknockers (1993) • The Stand (1994) • The Langoliers (1995) • The Shining (1997) • Quicksilver Highway (1997) • The Revelations of Becka Paulson (1997) • Storm of the Century (1999) • Kingdom Hospital (2004) • Stephen King's Desperation (2006) • Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006)Multiple films or miniseriesSalem's LotSometimes They Come BackRose RedRose Red (2002) • The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003)SeriesThe Dead Zone (2002) • Haven (2010) Films directed by Taylor Hackford 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
- Love Ranch (2010)
Tony Gilroy Director ScreenwriterThe Cutting Edge (1992) • Dolores Claiborne (1995) • Extreme Measures (1996) • The Devil's Advocate (with Jonathan Lemkin) (1997) • Bait (with Adam Scheinman and Andrew Scheinman) (2000) • Proof of Life (2000) • The Bourne Identity (with William Blake Herron) (2002) • The Bourne Supremacy (2004) • The Bourne Ultimatum (with Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi) (2007) • Michael Clayton (2007) • State of Play (with Matthew Michael Carnahan and Billy Ray) (2009) • Duplicity (2009) • The Bourne Legacy (2012)
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