This coming-of-age comedy set in South Carolina in 1963 has a seductive charm that sneaks up on you.
The slender plot pivots on a weekend fling at the beach planned by three Southern belles (Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish and Page Hannah) for their friend, bride-to-be Phoebe Cates.
Cates has her best screen role to date as Carson, the virginal snob whose socialite fiance, Harley (Tyrone Power Jr) is “so square he’s got corners”.
Fonda (daughter of Peter) brings snap and humour to blonde bad girl Melaina, whose dream of having an affair with President Kennedy “outside of marriage” has moved some to label her “a piece of Dixie ass”.
It’s Melaina who advises Pudge (Annabeth Gish – no relation to Lillian) to attract her man by pretending she can’t stand him. Luanne (Page Hannah, Daryl’s sister) is content to pick up Carson’s leftovers.
Things come to a head at a shag dance contest (you knew it was a dance, right?), where these steel magnolias sort out their partners in a disappointingly tidy ending.
Director Zelda Barron and screenwriter Robin Swicord show a flair for depicting the nuances of friendship among women.
Tyrone Power Jr
Shirley Anne Field