The Whales of August

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Anderson's version of David Berry's play opens with a sepia-tinted Steenburgen joyfully watching the spouters of the title, before fast- forwarding into the future. Sixty years later, Libby (Davis) and Sarah (Gish) are still on the island where they spent the summers with their husbands who, like the leviathans themselves, have long since gone. Libby, who is blind, treats her sister with disdain, but allows her to brush her long ivory hair. When Sarah invites the exiled Russian charmer Mr Maranov (Price) to dinner, Libby expresses her disapproval by refusing to permit Joshua (Carey) to install a picture window. Sarah's patience begins to run out...Nothing much happens in this curious chamber piece - the pair of crumblies chinwag with their blowsy friend Tisha (Sothern); Mr Maranov catches a fish; Sarah pegs out the washing - but the dragonish Ms Davis is in fine form, and Ms Gish is as captivating as ever. A gentle interlacing of memory, comedy and pathos, this is a golden opportunity to enjoy, if not whale music, then the probable swansong of two giants of cinema.

Release details

Duration: 91 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lindsay Anderson
Screenwriter: David Berry
Cast: Bette Davis
Lillian Gish
Vincent Price
Ann Sothern
Harry Carey Jr
Margaret Ladd
Tisha Sterling
Mary Steenburgen
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