Beaches (1988)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

USA, 1988.  All Girl Productions, Silver Screen Partners IV, Touchstone Pictures.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Bette Midler‘s career as producer got off to a terrific start with this smash box office success. She plays a brash, charismatic singer, Jewish from humble New York  beginnings, who maintains a close friendship with a conservative Connecticut WASP (Barbara Hershey) from childhood through to their adult years. In between their few opportunities to actually see each other, they maintain a relationship through letters except when crises demand that they be together.

It’s a heartfelt film with boisterous performances that completely override director Garry Marshall’s inability to bring truth to the soap opera being presented. Mary Agnes Donohue’s screenplay is a watered-down version of Iris Rainer Dart’s original novel, but it is also less melodramatic than the novel was. Add a bright soundtrack (with songs all sung by Midler) and a real sense of the bond of friendship at the heart of the fluffier elements going on here and you have a good understanding of its wide appeal. , later the star of television’s hit series Blossom, does a frighteningly good job of being a younger version of Midler in the film’s early scenes (though recently revealed that her singing was dubbed at Miss Midler’s request).

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Art Direction


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