7 Reasons We Still Love 'Steel Magnolias' 30 Years Later
Forever a favorite.
It’s been more than thirty years since the movie adaptation of Robert Harling’s beloved play, Steel Magnolias, hit the silver screen and captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Based on the life of Harling’s sister and the strong, spirited women of his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana, Steel Magnolias is one of those rare works that gets everything about Southern life and Southern women just right. It’s heartfelt and funny, heartbreaking and 100% real. Here, seven more reasons that we still can’t get enough of Steel Magnolias more than three decades later.
The Zingy One-Liners
If there’s one thing that we know about Southern women from firsthand experience, it’s that they have a way with words. And the women of Steel Magnolias are no exception, doling out beauty advice like candy (“Smile! It increases your face value”) and fiery comebacks like arrows (“What's the matter with you these days, M'Lynn? You got a reindeer up your butt?”).
The All-Star Cast
Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, and Dolly Parton: Six reasons this movie wins (for us, at least) the title of “Greatest Ensemble Cast of All Time.”
The Guaranteed Good Cry
Or at least a good laugh-until-you-cry. Sometimes, you just want to watch a flick that will cue all the waterworks, and this one practically comes with a tears guarantee. If you’re one of those people who claims “not to be a crier,” well, you just haven’t seen Steel Magnolias yet.
The Good Hair
When the story’s main setting is a beauty parlor (unlike the movie, the entire play was set entirely in Truvy’s salon), it’s no surprise that the women’s hair is almost as much a character in the movie as the women themselves. From Shelby’s bridal half up-half down look to Clairee’s polished coif, each ‘do perfectly fits the personality of the woman wearing it.
The Small-Town Setting
A story like this one couldn’t happen anywhere but a small Southern town. Whether you’ve been to Natchitoches or you just grew up in a place that’s just like it, with its own host of characters and traditions, you know there’s nothing quite like a small Southern town: Nobody knows a stranger, and everybody knows your secrets.
Because nothing is more memorable than thatcake. You know the one: The armadillo cake that graces the reception at Shelby’s wedding and looks like instant roadkill the second it’s cut to reveal a red velvet interior. It’s inspired plenty a prank (and plenty a groom’s cake) since the movie’s release, and watching Ouiser carve up that gray-and-scarlet train wreck is enough reason in itself to watch the movie again and again.
The Steel-Strong Sisterhood
Of course, while there are countless reasons to love Steel Magnolias, the number one reason it’s a mainstay in our movie collection is because of the way it depicts friendship among women. When we watch Steel Magnolias, we don’t just see Shelby or Ouiser or M’Lynn. We see our mothers, sisters, and friends—beautiful, strong women who love us, who build us up, and who aren’t afraid of cracking a joke at our expense every now and then.
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Call your Steel Magnolia, and consider this your bucket list!