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The Whales of August

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The Whales of August (1987) starring Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern
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The Whales of August (1987) starring Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern

Synopsis of The Whales of August

The Whales of August – Summer in Maine: things are changing. Two elderly widowed sister share a seaside home there.  Whales no longer pass close to the shore as they did during the youth.  A home where they’ve summered for 50 years. Libby is blind, contrary, and seemingly getting ready to die. Sarah is attentive to her sister, worried about continuing to care for her, and half interested in an old Russian aristocrat who fishes from their shore. It’s the eve of Sarah’s 46th wedding anniversary. The Russian offers some fish he’s caught, Sarah invites him to dinner, and Libby gets her back up. Sarah wonders if it isn’t time to sell the place and find a home for Libby. What alternatives do old people have?

You can choose death if you want to, but life isn’t yet over for me.

Sarah Webber

Editorial review of The Whales of August courtesy of

Screen legends Bette Davis (All About Eve), Lillian Gish (Duel in the Sun) and Vincent Price (Tales of Terror) unite their iconic talents in this beautifully photographed, intensely emotional drama that offers unexpected and quite marvelous rewards. Libby (Davis) and Sarah (Gish) are widowed siblings who have vacationed for half a century at a seaside cottage in Maine. Now in their eighties, the sisters have unexpectedly arrived at an impasse: While Sarah embraces change and the possibility of romance with a courtly Russian suitor (Price), the stubbornly bitter Libby rages at the inevitability of death. As the summer months wane, can Libby and Sarah rediscover the powerful bonds of memory, family and love?

The stellar cast includes Ann Sothern (A Letter to Three Wives) in her Oscar-nominated performance, Harry Carey Jr. (3 Godfathers), Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard), Margaret Ladd (TV’s Falcon Crest) and Tisha Sterling (Coogan’s Bluff).  The Whales of August features a wonderful screenplay by playwright David Berry (G.R. Point) based on his play and top-notch direction by the great Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man!).

Cast of characters

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