The Whales of August (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Whales of August (1987)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A once-in-a-lifetime cast of veterans performs David Berry's play about Libby Strong (Bette Davis) and Sarah Webber (Lillian Gish), widowed sisters vacationing on a Philadelphia island for their 60th consecutive summer. Libby is blind and embittered, while Sarah is healthy, supportive, and almost annoyingly chipper. Their neighbor Tisha (Ann Sothern) tries to convince Sarah to put Libby in the care of her daughter, but Sarah hasn't forgotten Libby's moral support when her own husband died, and she won't entertain such notions -- until she is swept off her feet by an aging roué (Vincent Price). When Libby spitefully sabotages this romance, an infuriated Sarah decides that gratitude has its limits. But when it actually comes down to selling their summer house and sending Libby packing, Sarah can't do it. In the film's flashback sequences, Libby is played by Margaret Ladd, Sarah by Mary Steenburgen, and Tisha by Ann Sothern's real-life daughter Tisha Sterling. Another film personality of long standing, Harry Carey Jr., is well cast as the sisters' handyman.
PG (adult situations/language)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Nelson Entertainment

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Lillian Gish
as Sarah Webber
Bette Davis
as Libby Strong
Ann Sothern
as Tisha Doughty
Vincent Price
as Mr. Maranov
Harry Carey Jr.
as Joshua Brackett
Frank Grimes
as Mr. Beckwith
Frank Pitkin
as Old Randall
Mike Bush
as Young Randall
Margaret Ladd
as Young Libby
Tisha Sterling
as Young Tisha
Mary Steenburgen
as Young Sarah
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Critic Reviews for The Whales of August

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

This is not my cup of tea, but it is a fascinating last picture show for a likeable legendary acting troupe.

Full Review… | October 30, 2008
Laramie Movie Scope

The names of Lillian Gish, Bette Davis and Vincent Price will never be forgotten by film lovers. The Whales of August, on the other hand, surely will be.

April 23, 2004
Apollo Guide

A worthy film that affords the viewer a rare chance to see some fine acting by stars the like we'll not see again.

Full Review… | March 1, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Deeply moving drama about two elderly sisters who discover that it's never too late to change.

Full Review… | July 10, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for The Whales of August

It's a sweet little movie that allows acting legends Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, and Vincent Price showcase their talents even in their 90's. It's well written and beautifully shot next to the beach. It's short and sweet

Kyle Bailey
Kyle Bailey

gr8 last picture for Gish and Vincent Price I love this movie gr8 chemistry between Gish & Davis. also last pic 4 the gr8 ann southern.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

The Whales Of August is a subdued and quiet film, but it is a beautiful and marvelous film nonetheless. The two leads, Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, are superb in their roles as quarrelling sisters, with one being full of life and the other being filled with resentment about life and waiting for death. It's a film that beautifully illustrates not only the fears and lives of the elderly, but also about how people as a whole differ in opinion about life itself. Now that I think about it, this film isn't a simple story that it pretends to be, but a much deeper film hidden beneath the veil. This film isn't for everyone, as demonstrated by the negative reviews complaining about how boring it is, but I absolutely love it and recommend it to viewers who wish to see an underrated gem that is as touching and memorable as this film. It's a superb film that deserves more attention.

Keenan Sullivan
Keenan Sullivan

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