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Places in the Heart
Alternate Title: Two Brothers
Director: Robert Benton (Dir)
Release Date:   21 Sep 1984
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 Sep 1984
Production Date:   21 Sep -15 Dec 1983 -- Waxahachie, Texas
Duration (in mins):   111
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Cast:   Sally Field (Edna Spalding)  
    Lindsay Crouse (Margaret Lomax)  
    Ed Harris (Wayne Lomax)  
    Amy Madigan (Viola Kelsey)  
    John Malkovich (Mr. Will)  
    Danny Glover (Moze)  
    Lane Smith ([Mr.] Albert Denby)  
    Terry O`Quinn (Buddy Kelsey)  
    Bert Remsen (Tee Tot Hightower)  
    Yankton Hatten (Frank [Spalding])  
    Gennie James (Possum [Spalding])  
  Featuring: Ray Baker (Royce Spalding)  
    Jay Patterson (W.E. Simmons)  
    Toni Hudson (Ermine)  
    DeVoreaux White (Wylie)  
  [and] Bill Thurman (Homer)  
    Jerry Haynes (Deputy Jack Driscoll)  
    Lou Hancock (Dispossessed lady)  
    Shelby Brammer (Ruby)  
    Norma Young (Beauty shop customer)  
  The Lone Star Syrup Boys: Bill Thurman (Homer)  
    Jim Gough (Leroy)  
  [and] Cliff Brunner (Otis)  
    Arthur Pugh (Dove Haslip)  
    Matthew Posey (Eugene)  
    Shanna Shrum (Rosalie Lomax)  
    Greg Brazzell (KKK man #1)  
    Lynn Covey (KKK man #2)  
    Randy Fife (KKK man #3)  
    Vernon Grote (KKK man #4)  
    Ned Dowd (KKK man #5)  
    Paul Nuckles (KKK man #6)  
    Lynn D. Lasswell, Jr. (Preacher)  
    J.C. Quinn (Texas voice #1)  
    Robert Schenkkan (Texas voice #2)  
    Trey Wilson (Texas voice #3)  
    Bascom Newman (Farmhouse dance voice)  
    Paul Goodwin (Mr. Cheeves)  
    Connie Grandell (Mrs. Cheeves)  
    William J. Welch (Narrator, "Trent's Last Case")  

Summary: In 1935, the Sunday dinner of Sheriff Royce Spalding is interrupted when he summoned to deal with Wylie, a drunk African-American teenager. During the confrontation, Royce is accidentally shot and killed. The town men bring Royce’s body home, where his wife Edna explains to their children, Frank and Possum, that their father is dead. A car arrives at the Spalding house, dragging Wylie’s dead body, as Edna’s sister, Margaret Lomax, stops by to console her sister. In another part of town, two lovers, Wayne Lomax and Viola Kelsey, meet in secret in an abandoned house. When Wayne returns home, he consoles his wife Margaret, and she confesses her fear that he too will end up dead. Wayne says that he loves her and nothing will happen to him. After church, Margaret brings food to Edna, but she is not hungry. She is worried about her family’s future because Royce was the breadwinner. In the town’s African-American community, Wylie is buried in a plain pine coffin, while Royce is buried in grandeur in the cemetery for white people. Sometime later, Edna gives dinner to Moze, an African-American man passing through town, who proposes that he could grow cotton on her farm and sell it. She declines his offer, and he leaves in the morning with some of her silverware. Mr. Denby from First Farmer’s Bank visits Edna and informs her that a mortgage payment on the farm is due in the middle of the month. When Denby suggests that she sell the farm and split up her family until she settles her finances, she tells him to leave. Later, Edna asks Margaret if she can help out in her beauty shop, but her sister says there aren’t enough customers. At night, Deputy Jack Driscoll arrives at Edna’s house with Moze and the stolen silverware, but Edna covers for Moze and tells Jack that Moze is her new farmhand. After Jack leaves, Edna asks Moze to plant cotton on her farm and warns that if he steals again, she’ll shoot him. When Mr. Denby learns of Edna’s plan to grow cotton, he is pessimistic and shows her a stack of foreclosures but she is determined. Edna buys cottonseed and Moze makes sure that she is not cheated and purchases a quality product. Meanwhile, Denby persuades Edna that the bank will look upon her situation more favorably if she takes in a boarder like his blind brother-in-law, Mr. Will. Edna cooperates, although Will makes it clear that he is displeased with the arrangement. Wayne continues his affair with Viola but is still attracted to Margaret. When the couple arrives late at the local dance, Viola and her husband, Buddy, require an explanation, and as the men get drinks, Margaret tells Viola that her husband’s lovemaking caused their delay. Upset, Viola ends the affair with Wayne. Back at Edna’s farm, Will discovers that Edna’s children have been playing his records and demands that Edna keep them away from his possessions. Later, Frank is caught smoking by his teacher Viola, and receives a spanking from Edna, who has never had to punish her children in the past since discipline was always Royce’s responsibility. The violent act upsets her and she confesses to Will how she misses her husband. Soon, a tornado descends and the townspeople take cover. As Edna struggles to move her plow horse into the barn, the wind caves in the attic walls where Possum plays with her dollhouse, but Will hears her scream and runs to rescue her. Moze opens the storm cellar and everyone in the household steps down to safety, including Frank, who arrives just in time. Meanwhile, Buddy climbs over debris to rescue Viola and her students from the damaged schoolhouse. As Buddy hugs his wife, Viola sees Wayne watching from across the street, and suggests to her husband that they move to another town. Once the storm is over, Edna’s home is damaged but still standing. At the bank, Edna asks Denby for an extension on her mortgage payment and while she waits for approval, she sees photographs of the winners of cotton-picking contests. Later, Edna tells Moze and Will that she will win that contest even if it kills her, because it is the only way to save her farm. During an evening of card playing, Buddy and Viola announce their move to Houston, Texas, but Margaret suspects an affair between her friend and her husband when Wayne reaches for the deck of cards and Viola avoids his touch. After the friends leave, Margaret confronts Wayne about his affair and says that she is no longer in love with him. At Edna’s farm, the family picks cotton except Will, and Moze warns that Edna’s plan will not work unless they hire extra pickers. Edna promises that she’ll pay the pickers from the contest money and they pick all night. When Edna takes their crop to the cotton gin owner, Mr. W. E. Simmons, he offers a low price, but Edna threatens to sell her crop to the Wheeler gin and Simmons reconsiders, offering an above-market price. At night, Will hears a noise, and Moze goes to the barn, where several Ku Klux Klan members beat him. Will grabs Royce’s gun, heads toward the barn and shoots the Klansmen until he runs out of bullets. When Will makes it clear that he recognizes the voices of Mr. Simmons and his associates, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Shaw, they leave. Afraid of the Klan’s return, Moze says goodbye and leaves the farm. Later, Buddy and Viola leave for Houston and pass by their church. Inside, as the minister gives a sermon on love and forgiveness, Margaret takes Wayne’s hand, and the congregation passes a tray of wine glasses. Each member of the congregation takes a glass: Moze, Will, Possum, Frank, Edna, even their deceased loved ones, Royce, and Wylie. In the background, the hymn “Blessed Assurance” is sung by the choir.

Production Company: Tri-Star-Delphi II Productions  
Production Text: Tri-Star Pictures Presents
Distribution Company: Tri-Star Pictures  
Director: Robert Benton (Dir)
  Richard Brick (Prod mgr)
  Joel Tuber (1st asst dir)
  David Dreyfuss (2d asst dir)
Producer: Arlene Donovan (Prod)
  Michael Hausman (Exec prod)
Writer: Robert Benton (Wrt)
Photography: Nestor Almendros (Dir of photog)
  Dan Lerner (Cam op)
  Bob Horne (1st asst cam)
  Bob Hall (2d asst cam)
  Don Reddy (2d unit photog)
  Phil Pfeiffer (2d unit photog)
  Zade Rosenthal (Still photog)
  Stephen J. Shiekman (Video playback op)
  Richard Quinlan (Gaffer)
  Robert Connors (Best boy)
  Tom Prate, Jr. (Key grip)
  Robert Prate (Best boy)
Art Direction: Gene Callahan (Prod des)
  Sydney Z. Litwak (Art dir)
Film Editor: Carol Littleton (Film ed)
  Jill Savitt (1st asst ed)
  Norman Buckley (Asst ed)
  Barbara Tulliver (Asst ed)
  Walter Crespo (Film layout)
Set Decoration: Lee Poll (Set dec)
  Derek Hill (Set dec)
  Jack Eberhart (Prop master)
  Peter McGuire (Asst prop master)
  Roger Irvin (Const coord)
Costumes: Ann Roth (Cost)
  Mary Malin (Asst to cost)
  Silvio Scarano (Cost)
  Mort Schwartz (Cost)
Music: John Kander (Mus comp and adpt )
  Howard Shore (Addl mus prod and adpt)
Sound: James Pilcher (Prod sd mixer)
  Clint Althouse (Boom op)
  Richard Cirincione (Supv sd ed)
  Lou Cerborino (Sd ed)
  Peter Odabashian (Sd ed)
  Michael Jacobi (Supv ADR ed)
  Jay Dranch (ADR ed)
  Tom Fleischman (Re-rec mixer)
  Trans/Audio (Re-rec mixer)
  Bitty O'Sullivan Smith (Asst sd ed)
  Randall Coleman (Asst sd ed)
  Jeffrey Stern (Asst sd ed)
  Fred Rosenberg (Asst sd ed)
  Bruce Kitzmeyer (Asst sd ed)
  Richard Friedlander (Apprentice sd ed)
  Lindsey Hicks (Apprentice sd ed)
Special Effects: Bran Ferren (Spec visual eff by)
  Cal Acord (Spec eff)
  Roy McBride (Wind eff)
  Controlled Airstreams, Inc. (Wind eff)
  Henry Wolf (Title des)
  The Optical House, N.Y. (Opticals by)
Dance: Ken Rinker (Dance coord)
Make Up: Bob Mills (Make-up des)
  Paul LeBlanc (Hair des)
  Yolanda Toussieng (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Howard Feuer (Casting)
  Jeremy Ritzer (Casting)
  Anne Rapp (Scr supv)
  Ingrid Johanson (Prod office coord)
  Lee Mayes (Loc mgr)
  Lynn Covey (Loc coord)
  Mark Schotte (Loc coord)
  Al Milligan (Transportation capt)
  Dick Dubuque (Prod auditor)
  Mary Anna Austin (Texas casting)
  Rody Kent (Texas casting)
  Barbara Blanchette (Extras casting coord)
  Lois Lipfield (Asst to Mr. Benton)
  Sondra Lee (Consultant to Mr. Benton)
  Brian Cowden (Period car coord)
  James Pullen (Period car coord)
  Beccie Hilliard (Asst prod office coord)
  Rebecca Wood (Asst prod office coord)
  Rachel Cline (Post-prod coord)
  John Brittain (Prod asst)
  David Evans-Lombe (Prod asst)
  James Maceo (Prod asst)
Stand In: Paul Nuckles (Stunt coord)
  Sharon Schaffer (Stunt double #1)
  Bobby Porter (Stunt double #2)
Color Personnel: Bruce Pearson (Col timer)
  Technicolor® (Col by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Tri-Star Pictures 3/10/1984 dd/mm/yyyy PA228302

PCA NO: 27296
Physical Properties: Sd:
  Prints: Prints by Metrocolor®
  Lenses: Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Rural
Subjects (Major): Accidental death
  The Depression, 1929
Subjects (Minor): Alcoholics
  Barn dances
  Beauty shops and hair salons
  Farm hands
  Ku Klux Klan
  Love affairs

Note: According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film’s working titles during development and production were Two Brothers, The Texas Picture, A Texas Story, The Texas Film, and Waiting for Morning. A 2 Nov 1984 BAM article reported that writer-director Robert Benton eventually settled on Places in the Heart because he did not want his film title to compete with other “geographically oriented titles” such as Country, The River, and Paris, Texas (1984, see entries) that were being opened close to the release of his film.
       The following acknowledgements appear at the end of the film: “Special Thanks to: Doc Watson; Merle Watson and The Texas Playboys: Leon Wm. McAuliffe; Alton M. Stricklin; Gene C. Gasaway; Bobby L. Boatright; Joe F. Ferguson; Smoky Dacus; Eldon E. Shamblin”; “Cheryl Hardwick, piano accompaniment on ‘Blessed Assurance’ and ‘In The Garden’”; “We wish to thank the people of Waxahachie and Ellis County, Texas for their generous support and cooperation”; and, “Vintage radio broadcasts from the archives of Radio Yesteryear, Sandy Hook, CT.”
       In a 23 Oct 1984 LAT article, writer and director Robert Benton revealed that the idea for the movie sprang from a lunch with director Arthur Penn in 1975. As Benton shared some of his family stories from his hometown, Waxahachie, TX, Penn suggested that Benton use the subject matter as the basis for a film. Production notes stated Benton also wanted his son, John, to have an appreciation of his family’s roots. On a visit to Waxahachie, father and son saw “where Benton’s great-grandfather...the town’s sheriff, had been shot,” as well as where Benton’s “blind great-uncle had caned chairs and made brooms.” In an Aug 1984 Vogue article, Benton explained that the film began as a story about two brothers, who were bootleggers in TX during the Depression. A 25 Sep 1984 DV article stated that Benton’s bootlegger uncles were killed in the “liquor wars” of Prohibition, and his initial screenplay delved into the power struggle between local distributors and “big power interests,” but Benton ultimately felt that the telling of this story was “too dark, too violent.” On 21 Mar 1985, a Chicago Tribune article reported that Benton had created a 260-page screenplay, woven from the tapestry of his life. The original script had to be pared down, and according to the Aug 1984 Vogue article, the brothers’ story, based on Benton’s paternal side of the family, was nudged out by “Edna’s” story, based on Benton’s maternal [great] grandmother.
       As noted in the 25 Sep 1984 DV article, the film starts with the true story of Benton’s great-grandmother, who was widowed when her husband, the town sheriff, was “killed on the second Sunday before Christmas” in 1882. She raised four children while running a cotton farm and supplemented her income by selling vegetables, milk, and eggs to put two children through college. Her oldest son was Benton’s grandfather. The character “Moze” was based on an African-American man that worked for Benton’s maternal grandmother. An Oct 1984 Life article reported that Benton wrote more than fifteen drafts to arrive at a shooting script.
       Production notes stated that thousands of children from predominantly rural areas in TX were auditioned for the roles of Edna’s two children, “Frank” and “Possum”.
       Benton had originally written the part of Moze with an older man in mind. However, he was so impressed with Danny Glover’s readings that he “rewrote the character” to fit the actor. The Oct 1984 Life article stated that Benton gave extra and cameo roles to longtime friends from his hometown including his cousin, Margaret Spalding, and sisters Dorothy Moore and Ethel Coffer, who were caregivers for Benton’s mother. The women were not credited onscreen. Benton cast his longtime friend, Lynn Lasswell, an insurance agent, as a preacher and Lynn did receive a screen credit.
       Production notes stated that all the filming was done in Waxahachie. The crew converted a suitable house to be used as the Spalding home. The barn was relocated closer to the house to better facilitate the action. According to the 25 Sep 1984 DV article, Benton worked with production designer Gene Callahan to create “a two-story version” of his mother’s house to represent the Spalding home.
       For Edna’s visit to the bank, the crew remodeled an abandoned hotel in the center of town. An out-of-order cotton gin was restored, a grange and a large farmhouse were used for “two different dance sequences,” a schoolhouse was built, and for the tornado sequence, salvaged abandoned houses were used in conjunction with special effects. According to the Nov 1984 BAM article, all actresses and female extras in the film were required to wear girdles because Benton understood that the undergarments caused women to move differently.
       Reviews were mostly positive. Comments ranged from “a loving, reflective homage to his hometown” in the 12 Sep 1984 DV review (by Jagr.) to “an affectionate but hard look at the people of a small Depression-era Texas town” in a 12 Sep 1984 HR review by Duane Byrge. Actress Sally Field was singled out by many critics for her exceptional performance supported by strong performances from the rest of the cast. In contrast, a 15 Oct 1984 New Yorker review by Pauline Kael enjoyed the performances of Amy Madigan and Danny Glover but felt Field’s acting did not have “much depth or subtext” and the actors who played her children were not anything special. Kael also dismissed Benton’s screenplay as “hollow craft” and stated that the people depicted in the film were more mean than Christian in their behavior.
       The film received a total of seven Academy Award nominations. Award winners included Sally Field for “Actress in a Leading Role,” and Robert Benton for “Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen).” Nominations were earned in the following categories: Benton for “Directing;” Lindsey Crouse for “Actress in a Supporting Role;” John Malkovich for “Actor in a Supporting Role;” and Ann Roth for “Costume Design.” The film also received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Picture,” with Arlene Donovan as producer. Sally Field won a Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.” Robert Benton received a nomination for “Best Screenplay – Motion Picture,” and the film received a nomination for “Best Motion Picture – Drama." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
BAM   2 Nov 1984   p. 18, 20.
Chicago Tribune   21 Mar 1985.   
Daily Variety   12 Sep 1984   p. 3, 12.
Daily Variety   25 Sep 1984   p. 2, 8.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Sep 1984   p. 3, 7.
LAHExam   21 Sep 1984.   
Los Angeles Times   21 Sep 1984   Section VI, p. 1, 16.
Los Angeles Times   23 Oct 1984.   
Life   Oct 1984   pp. 27-28, 32.
New Yorker   15 Oct 1984.   
New York Times   21 Sep 1984   Section C, p. 8.
New York Times   23 Sep 1984   p.19.
Time   24 Sep 1984   p. 70.
Variety   19 Sep 1984   p. 20.
Vogue   Aug 1984   p. 353, 414.
WSJ   20 Sep 1984.   

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