Tawanda! If you’ve been following this blog, you will have noticed that all the movies are current releases. But, this time, the featured movie today is the Universal Studios’ classic “Fried Green Tomatoes” starring Academy Award winners Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy.
Not sure about you, but I am not entirely a fan of movies that feature a couple of people sitting around in the present and talk about a story from the past. And, all the while, we get flashbacks to that earlier story. What is the point? Why not just tell the story from the past and let that be your movie? I don’t get it. There are some exceptions…take “Citizen Kane” for instance–it worked! But contrary to my predisposed dislike for movies that principally rely upon flashbacks to tell the story, this movie surpasses all expectations! One of the reasons Director Jon Avnet’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” survives the flashback structure is that it devises an interesting character to be the listener to the long-ago tale.
If you’ve been living under a rock and not seen it before, here’s a synopsis: A woman learns the value of friendship as she hears the story of two women and how their friendship shaped their lives in this warm comedy-drama. Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is an emotionally repressed housewife with a habit of drowning her sorrows in candy bars. Her husband Ed barely acknowledges her existence. One week, while waiting out Ed’s visit of his aunt at the nursing home, Evelyn meets Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy), a frail but feisty old woman who lives at the same nursing home and loves to tell stories. Over the span of several months, she spins a whopper about one of her relatives, Idgie and her friend Ruth. Idgie and Ruth are two unlikely friends that form a strong friendship in 1930s Alabama. Idgie gave Ruth a job at the cafe after she left her abusive husband Frank. Between her habit of standing up for herself, standing up to Frank, and serving food to Black people out the back of the diner, Idgie raised the ire of the less tolerant citizens of Whistle Stop, and when Frank mysteriously disappeared, many locals suspected that Idgie, Ruth, and their friends may have been responsible. Evelyn finds herself looking forward to her weekly visits with Ninny, and is inspired by her story to take a new pride in herself and assert her independence from Ed.
If you enjoy great dialog and excellent character development, you will fall in love with this movie even if you have yet to do so. Fried Green Tomatoes was based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by actress-turned-author Fannie Flagg. Although the screenplay is very close to the original novel, there is one element conspicuously missing from the movie–well, directly anyway. It’s presented very clearly in the novel that Idgie is a lesbian and she and Ruth are a couple despite the mores in the South at the time (and still to this day somewhat). The town accepts the two of them and no questions are ever asked. The movie brings these elements out indirectly. And, this is most likely due to being released in 1991.
The four leading ladies deliver outstanding performances! It is of no surprise that this movie has stood the test of time. Clearly, this is one of the best movies about strength, character, and friendship ever produced.