Southern Magnolias

One of the best movies out there, period, is Steel Magnolias. The cast, characters, and story will make you laugh, cry, and you’ll feel better every time you see it, about life and death. It actually started off as a popular stage play that premiered in 1987. In the play, there’s only the six women, –you never see the other chracters, you only hear about them in the dialogue, as the other women get their various salon needs fulfilled. It’s a period piece, really, since the days of the neighborhood salon are just about over. Nowadays, everyone just heads off to one of the ten thousand salons, barber shops, and spas that pop up as towns become cities, and suburbs expand.

The story follows the intertwined lives of six women; M’Lynn Eatenton, Shelby Eatenton (-Latcherie), Truvy Jones, Louisa “Ouiser” Boudreaux, Annelle Dupuy Desoto, and Clairee Belcher. Of course, to those of us who’ve seen it, they’re just Shelby, M’Lynn, Truvy, Ouiser, Annelle, and Clairee. The salon is in Truvy’s house, which she shares with her family, –the salon is sort of an addition. Truvy has a story, as do Clairee, Ouiser, and Annelle, but the main focus is on Shelby and her mother, M’Lynn. Shelby is a diabetic, and the story opens up on her getting ready to marry Kackson Latcherie. This is the same day Annelle arrives to work for Truvy. As married couples do, Shelby and Jackson desperately want to have children but the doctors warn against it, and M’Lynn offers opposition, worried for Shelby’s health.

Jackson and Shelby planned to adopt, but Shelby admits that the judge most likely will not allow her to adopt a child because of her diabetic illness. Shelby tells her mother, M’Lynn about the pregnancy, and M’Lynn is shocked and angry. Although Shelby’s baby is born healthy, she is substantially weakened after the birth, her condition gradually worsens, and she dies. M’Lynn is devastated, but with the support of her four friends, she manages to hold together after the death of her daughter. The rest of the women experience their own dramas during the course of the play and film.

Annelle has a significant amount of drama in her life, since she married a criminal, who disappeared right after the wedding, and she’s trying to make a new life for herself, by working and becoming independent. She meets Sammy Desoto at Shelby’s wedding reception, and from there, she opens up a little. They are close for a while, but then Annelle claims she has a “wild period” in which she wore contact lenses, and dressed a bit more fashionably. Afterwards, however, she becomes religiously obsessed, but with Sammy”s help, she eventually balances out.

Clairee suffers from boredom and too much money, so she buys a radio station, and that becomes her new life’s work, after the death of her husband. Her best friend, Ouiser, suffers from too much personality; she’s a cantankerous eccentric with a giant St. Bernard, and her life works out when she meets a man, and although she never actually settles down, she does find a small amount of peace with her new friend. Truvy suffers from a marriage issues; her husband Spud is distant and uninterested, but they do become closer during Shelby’s illness, and after her death. The movie is mainly about Shelby’s short life, and the impact she had on the people around her.

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