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127 Ratings

The Whales of August

Directed by Lindsay Anderson
United States, 1987


The Whales of August is based on a play by David Berry and stars Bette Davis and Lillian Gish as elderly sisters. Also in the cast were Ann Sothern as one of their friends, and Vincent Price as a peripheral member of the former Russian aristocracy.

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The Whales of August Directed by Lindsay Anderson

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1988 | Nominee: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Independent Spirit Awards

1988 | 3 nominations including: Best Female Lead

National Board of Review

1987 | Winner: Best Actress

Critics reviews

The plot’s restricted range – it culminates in Libby’s assenting to Sarah’s wish to install a picture window – is honest, rather than trivial. Making something of their lives in the present requires, as it did for Anderson at this point in his career, as much acceptance as ambition.
December 14, 2017
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Lindsay Anderson, the most established British director at Cannes, helmed the U.S. production of The Whales of August, intended as a valedictory valentine to aging stars Lillian Gish and Bette Davis. Sadly, it’s a damp doily that makes On Golden Pond look like a Joe Orton play.
May 22, 2017
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Obviously, Anderson jumped at the opportunity to use these two distinguished actresses, but unfortunately what he gives them to work with is so flimsy and sentimental that not even the awesome power of Gish (here in her early 90s) can transform the material. What seems missing, paradoxically, is a sufficiently developed sense of history.
November 01, 1987
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