'Steel Magnolias' 25 Years Later: Flashback to the 1989 Premiere

by Denny Directo 12:45 PM PST, November 20, 2014
Playing 'Steel Magnolias' 25 Years Later: Flashback to the 1989 Premiere

Twenty-five years later and Steel Magnolias still makes us a cry.

The dramedy may have premiered in November 1989, but a quarter of a century later, you still won't find a better film that epitomizes the power of female friendship.

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An adaptation of Robert Harling's successful stage play, Herbert Ross gathered a star-studded cast for the film. Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and then newcomer Julia Roberts starred as a group of brassy Southern women who are bonded by the comedy and tragedy of life while hanging at a local hair salon.

Today, Steel Magnolias is a touchstone among women and has long been considered one of the best "chick flicks" of all time. But at the film’s premiere that same year, MacLaine felt the film was as much for men as it was for women.

"To say it’s a women's film I don’t think that’s correct," McLaine told ET. "If you've got women in your life bring them to see this film and you'll know much more about them when you go home."

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While it was uncertain at the time how audiences would respond to the movie, what was undeniably clear was the bond that the cast mates themselves formed over the course of filming.

"[The film will] put to rest the idea that women can't work together can't really collaborate," Dukakis said. "This is really proof of a wonderful collaboration."

"I relate with women well," Parton said of working with the stellar cast. "I love men but they cause me more trouble than the women."

While initial reviews were mixed, it eventually grossed over $83 million at the domestic box office and became 1989's 14th highest-grossing film. And most notably, it made a star out of a then 23-year-old Julia Roberts, who earned the movie's sole Oscar nomination.

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One thing is certain, 25 years later and Steel Magnolias still captivates audiences — both men and women — with its moving and heartbreaking story.

"I think that message is that life should be appreciated and embraced," Roberts told ET in 1989. "And love the people around you."

Watch the video for more from the 1989 premiere.

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