The Whales of August

As I write this, my wife is watching The Whales of August, on demand. If you’ve never seen it it’s a very good movie, a drama about two elderly sisters and their elderly friends and their interactions as they spend time together in the sisters’ summer home in Maine.

Even if it were not a good movie it would be an important movie, an artifact, since it stars Lillian Gish (in her last movie role), Bette Davis, and Ann Sothern. When it was made the three veteran actresses had nearly 200 years of movie-making experience all together. We will never see their or its like again.

There’s a famous anecdote about the making of the movie. After shooting a scene the director, Lindsay Anderson, said to Lillian Gish, “Miss Gish, you’ve just given me a perfect close-up.” To which Bette Davis responded, “Of course she did. She invented them.”

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