How to Make an American Quilt

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Overview

A young woman at a crossroads in her life finds herself receiving plenty of advice from her older and wiser counterparts in this drama. Finn Dodd Winona Ryder is a graduate student trying to finish up her doctoral thesis on women's folk art while deciding if she should marry her fiancé Sam Dermot Mulroney; she's not sure if she's ready to settle down, and suspects that Sam is unfaithful to her. Needing time to sort things out, Finn chooses to spend the summer with her grandmother Hy Ellen Burstyn and great aunt ...
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Overview

A young woman at a crossroads in her life finds herself receiving plenty of advice from her older and wiser counterparts in this drama. Finn Dodd Winona Ryder is a graduate student trying to finish up her doctoral thesis on women's folk art while deciding if she should marry her fiancé Sam Dermot Mulroney; she's not sure if she's ready to settle down, and suspects that Sam is unfaithful to her. Needing time to sort things out, Finn chooses to spend the summer with her grandmother Hy Ellen Burstyn and great aunt Gladys Jo Anne Bancroft. Hy and Gladys Jo are avid quilters, and with a group of their friends, they work on a special quilt for Finn's wedding; as the women work together, they share stories of their lives, and Finn finds herself learning as much from hearing them talk as she does from her schoolwork. Finn also receives a visit from her free-spirited mom Sally Kate Capshaw and finds herself infatuated with a good looking young man who lives nearby. Maya Angelou plays one of the quilters, as do Kate Nelligan, Jean Simmons, and Alfre Woodard. How to Make an American Quilt was the directorial debut of Jocelyn Moorhouse, and was based on a novel by Whitney Otto that itself began as a doctoral thesis.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
How to Make an American Quilt is a pleasing, sisters-through-the-generations tableau that, not surprisingly, weaves together stories like panels on the titular fabric. Perhaps too obvious in its metaphors and methods, the film executes them well enough to make it a fond celebration of womanhood. Although the variety of grand dames who take their place around the quilt (Maya Angelou, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft, Alfre Woodard) would seem to serve as mother figures to Winona Ryder's Finn Dodd, the experiences they recount assume more of a sisterly quality, getting at the universality of the female condition. That said, it's not an exercise in man hating either; there may be more male scoundrels, but both sexes share the blame in the tragic yet simplistic war stories related by the women. The overall outlook is sentimentally optimistic, and the heartland settings look gorgeous through the lens of Steven Spielberg's personal cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, making for an agreeable if not overly memorable viewing experience. Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse followed up this first Hollywood movie with another study of mistreated women in America's farm country, A Thousand Acres (1997), but missed the mark while trying to push a more radical agenda.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/1/1998
  • UPC: 096898259538
  • Original Release: 1995
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Winona Ryder Finn Dodd
Maya Angelou Anna
Anne Bancroft Glady Jo, Finn's great aunt
Ellen Burstyn Hy (Finn's grandmother)
Kate Nelligan Constance Saunders, Dean's mistress
Jean Simmons Em (artist's wife)
Alfre Woodard Marianna
Jane Alden Em's Mother
Adam Baldwin Finn's Father
Kate Capshaw Sally, Finn's mother
Maria Celedonio Young Anna
Claire Danes Young Glady Joe
Loren Dean Young Preston, Sophia's husband
Melinda Dillon Mrs. Darling, Sophia's mother
Joanna Going Young Em
Alicia Goranson Young Hy
Tim Guinee Young Dean
Richard Jenkins Howell
Jared Leto Beck
Samantha Mathis Young Sophia Darling
Brian McElroy Baby Pres
Ari Meyers Duff
Dermot Mulroney Sam
Will Nipper Boy at Party
Derrick O'Connor Dean
Charles Parks Guest
James Rebhorn
Esther Rolle Aunt Pauline
Johnathon Schaech Leon
Lois Smith Sophia
Gail Strickland The Mrs
Debra Stricklin Guest
Holland Taylor Mrs Rubens
Rip Torn Arthur Cleary
David Williams Em's Father
Mykelti Williamson Winston
Technical Credits
Jocelyn Moorhouse Director
Jane Anderson Screenwriter
Evelyne Barbier Set Decoration/Design
Martin Becker Special Effects
Jill Bilcock Editor
Lawrence Blanford Cinematographer
Leslie Dilley Asst. Director, Production Designer
Risa Bramon Garcia Casting
Sergio-Mimica Gezzan Asst. Director
Janusz Kaminski Cinematographer
William J. Law III Set Decoration/Design
Josh Lusby Set Decoration/Design
Laurie MacDonald Executive Producer
Marvin March Set Decoration/Design
Sergio Mimica-Gezzan Asst. Director
Ruth Myers Co-producer, Costumes/Costume Designer
Thomas Newman Score Composer
Deborah Jelin Newmyer Executive Producer
Valli O'Reilly Makeup
Walter Parkes Executive Producer
Sarah Pillsbury Producer
Midge Sanford Producer
Timothy R. Sexton Musical Direction/Supervision
Mary Vernieu Casting
Ed Verreaux Art Director
Patricia Whitcher Co-producer
Russell Williams II Sound/Sound Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

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3 Star

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2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great movie to see again and again!

    Great cast! A group of women get together to make a wedding quilt. The film goes back in time to tell a story of each lady's past and how it can relate to the young woman they are making the quilt for and how to mend their own relationships in the process. A wonderful story of love and friendship.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews