Beaches (1988): Friendship Melodrama, Starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey

A cheerfully and shamelessly schmaltzy melodrama, Beaches depicts the intimate friendship between two vastly different women, played by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.
This kind of old-fashioned, sentimental tale, which spans decades, goes back to the 1940s, with movies like “Old Acquaintance,” with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins, which was remade into “Rich and Famous,” in 1981, by George Cukor with Candice Bergen and Jacquie Bisset.
I have not read the novel upon which Mary Agnes Donoghue’s script is based, but her writing is full of cultural clichés.
Bette Midler (also credited as producer) plays a brassy, vulgar Jewish woman named C.C. Bloom, and Hershey is quite the opposite, an elegant, graceful and educated Hillary.
Midler’s Bloom is a singer in the Bronx and Hershey’s Hilary icy princess is a socialite in San Francisco. The soggy, trite and contrived meller begins with their first meeting, as young girls (around 11) in Atlantic City, and ends with the untimely death of Hillary, which is a victim of a TV of the Week Disease.
True to his TV origins, Gary Marshall directs the story as a TV soap opera, but doesn’t get particularly strong performances from his female leads or male actors.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Art Direction-set Decoration: Albert Brenner; Garrett Lewis
Oscar Awards: None
 
Oscar Context
The winner of the Art Direction Oscar was the period film, “Dangerous Liaisons.”
Cast
 
C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler)
Hillary Whitney Essex (Barbara Hershey)
John Pearce (John Heard)
Dr. Richard Milstein (Spalding Gray)
Leona Bloom (Lainie Kazan)
Michael essex (James Head)
Victoria Essex (Grace Johnston)
C.C., age 11 (Mayim Bialik)
Hillary, age 11 (Marcia Leeds)
Crew
Produced by Bonnie Bruckheimer-Martell, Bette Midler, Margaret Jennings South
Directed by Garry Marshall
Screenplay: Mary Agnes Donoghue, based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart
Camera: Dante Spinotti
Editor: Richard Halsey
Music: Georges Delerue
Production design: Albert Brenner
Costumes: Robert de Mora
Running time: 123 Minutes

 

 

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