249. Fried Green Tomatoes

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Movie: Fried Green Tomatoes

Release Date: December 27. 1991

Director: Jon Avnet

Starring: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, Cicely Tyson.

Tag Lines: “The secret of life? The secret’s in the sauce.”

Relevance: There are times when I go to see a movie, I have already read the book, novel or story from which it is based. Sometimes after I see a movie, I want to read the book. Similar to ‘The Help’ (see 344. The Help), ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ was one such movie.

Sometime in the summer of 1992, long after ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ was nominated for two Oscars at that year’s Academy Award ceremony, I rented and watched it with friends and family. It was a moving, funny well told story that moved me both to tears and laughter. It also got me to run out and buy the book from which it was based, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg. I equally loved the book. I even tried making fried green tomatoes from the recipe in the back of the book. I’m not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe pretty well. I have to say for my first attempt, they weren’t too bad.

The movie continued to inspire me for many years after watching it that first time. Anytime I need to make a decision in life I always asked myself “WWMD? What would Madonna do?” It has gotten me through some very rough times. I even have a T-shirt with that written on it. Madonna is my muse, my savior and my queen all wrapped up in a five foot, five inch human. She even once saved my life. No one inspires me on this planet more than that woman. I owe her my life. After watching ‘Fried Green Tomatoes,’ I began using an alternative motivator. I started saying “Towanda” anytime I needed inspiration or a fire lit under me to make some big decisions. To this day it is possible you will hear shout “Towanda.” If you do, look out, because I am about to make some waves.

I purchased the VHS when it was released and would watch it anytime I found out someone had not seen it yet. I watched it with my mom, who of course loved it, numerous friends and other family members. I eventually upgraded to DVD and have also re-read the novel about ten or fifteen years ago. It is an inspiring film with great direction, performances and story that always makes me cry but also gives me the strength and courage to muddle through this thing called life. Towanda!

Today’s Thoughts: I don’t think there was a better movie for me to watch at this point in my life. Unemployment, two family deaths and a global pandemic could drive a man a little crazy. Let’s face it, we all could use a little “Towanda! Righter of Wrongs, Queen Beyond Compare!” So with arms wide open, I curled up on my couch wrapped in a blanket and reminisced with an old friend called ‘Fried Green Tomatoes.’

I probably haven’t watched the film in its entirety for about fifteen years or so, about the same time that I re-read the novel. I do catch bits and pieces of it now and again when it plays on television, but today’s uninterrupted, beginning-to-end viewing was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I love this film. I am not sure I can pinpoint exactly why it inspires me so much, it just does. The performances are simply marvelous. It is a terrific ensemble without one weak link. The film introduced me to Chris O’Donnell, although it was technically his second role on the big screen. He was so young and charming in this important, yet brief performance. Jessica Tandy and Mary Louise Parker are both flawless and have their own shining moments but for me, Kathy Bates is the heart of this film. The scene near the end where she gleefully says, “Mrs. Otis died!” is one of those laughter through tears moments. It’s so well played. However, Cicely Tyson gets the award today for the one to make me cry the most. After Ruth dies, she says the following quote to Idgie:

“It’s all right, honey. Let her go. Let her go. You know, Miss Ruth was a lady. And a lady always knows when to leave.”

Cue the Kleenex box.

Lesbians, bee charmers, railroad tragedies, cannibalism and friend green tomatoes, what else can you ask for in a movie? This film comes highly recommended and I dare you not to use “Towanda” as a motivator after watching it.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Jessica Tandy (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Fannie Flagg, Carol Sobieski (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Kathy Bates (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Jessica Tandy (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Jessica Tandy (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress, Kathy Bates (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Fannie Flagg, Carol Sobieski (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DVD Availability.

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