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Spitfire Grill

The Spitfire Grill

5.0 7
Director: Lee David Zlotoff

Cast: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden


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This debut drama from writer-director Lee David Zlotoff (creator of the TV series MacGyver) won the audience award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Alison Elliott stars as Percy Talbott, an ex-convict who's come to the small Maine town of Gilead in the hope of finding work and a place to start her life over again. With the help of the local sheriff, she


This debut drama from writer-director Lee David Zlotoff (creator of the TV series MacGyver) won the audience award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Alison Elliott stars as Percy Talbott, an ex-convict who's come to the small Maine town of Gilead in the hope of finding work and a place to start her life over again. With the help of the local sheriff, she lands a waitress job at the Spitfire Grill, eventually winning over the crusty owner Hannah (Ellen Burstyn) and simple-minded fellow waitress Shelby (Marcia Gay Harden) with her hard work and trustworthiness. Percy even finds a new love with a woodsman, Joe (Kieran Mulroney) and befriends a hermit (John M. Jackson) who lives in the nearby woods and is regularly fed by Hannah. When Hannah falls ill, Percy devises a scheme to help her sell the café in a national contest, but Shelby's husband Nahum (Will Patton) doesn't trust Percy's motives -- and his suspicion leads to tragedy. The Spitfire Grill, which played as a cross between To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), got initial financing from an organization of Roman Catholic priests and sold at Sundance for a then-record $10 million.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Lee David Zlotoff's sentimental tale about a troubled young woman who stirs up the residents of a small town in northern Maine is excessively earnest and melodramatically overplotted but leavened with fine acting by its principals. Alison Elliot stars as the new waitress at the Spitfire Grill, where she confuses the suspicious townspeople of Gilead by returning their gossip and animosity with kindness and goodwill. Zlotoff, who seems to have intended the film as a Capra-esque fable of human goodness, leaves the relationship of the apparently schizoid townfolk and this woman in a hopeless muddle. It's also rife with subplots involving everything from the woman's mysterious past to a contest to choose the new owner of the café, but none of them could matter less. However, the plot thread of the woman's bonding with restaurant owner Ellen Burstyn and withdrawn housewife Marcia Gay Harden, a scenario reminiscent of the superior Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), is the film's strongest element, mostly thanks to the superb acting of these three. It seems impossible to believe that protestors could have been disturbed by the film's nimbus of mild spirituality.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Archives
Region Code:
[Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alison Elliott Perry Talbott
Ellen Burstyn Hannah Ferguson
Marcia Gay Harden Shelby Goddard
Will Patton Nahum Goddard
Kieran Mulroney Joe Sperling
Gailard Sartain Sheriff Gary Walsh
Louise De Cormier Effy Katshaw
John M. Jackson Johnny B.

Technical Credits
Lee David Zlotoff Director,Screenwriter
Peter Borck Art Director
Howard Cummings Production Designer
Cas Donovan Asst. Director
Robert Draper Cinematographer
Margie Goodspeed Editor
James Horner Score Composer
Marci Liroff Casting,Co-producer
Louise Mingenbach Costumes/Costume Designer
Forrest Murray Producer
Stewart Pearce Sound/Sound Designer
Warren Stitt Producer
Edward E. Vaughan Co-producer


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The Spitfire Grill 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has been my favorite movie since I first saw it, about 5 times ago. Nothing has topped it yet. It is simple, realistic, and gripping. The characters are intriguing and when its over, you're left missing them for quite some time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie has so much to offer anyone who is willing to open their heart to its many messages. The emotions range: from fear to growth, from hate to love, for regret to forgiveness and most of all a better understanding of our pure and simple humanity with all of its good points and failings along the way of life. A classic needed to be seen by all!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A young woman with a past tries to make a new life in a small, distrustful town in Maine. Complex and wonderful characters and relationships. An amazing tale of redemption. Four hankies!
Guest More than 1 year ago
''The Spitfire Grill'' is the touching story of a young woman, recently paroled from prison, who sets out to begin a new life in a small New England town. The film's powerful depiction of the young woman's journey to self-discovery and emotional fulfillment is like a beautifully spun web of drama, laughter and tears. Alison Elliot, Ellen Burstyn and Marcia Gay Harden offer up superb performances in this moving tale.
In-Quest More than 1 year ago
They should show this movie to every student who wants to make movies. They take a wonderful story and tell it wonderfully. The acting is the best. It is rated PG-13 so I would not say everyone should see it. But if parents view it first they can make the decision if their children should watch it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When this film was released I had no knowledge of what the film was about. I didn't see the trailer I solely watched it because of the poster. As the film unfolds you slowly become involved with the characters. These types of films are special in the fact that not to many are made. It's a simple story of redemtion in the simplest form. Percy just wants to get on with her life. But certian people question her because of her past. The owner of The Spitfire Grill, Hannah, does at first until she slowly gets to know her. After falling off of a chair, Percy takes over the cooking while Hannah recovers. After a hard day a quiet lady called Shelby shows up the next morning to help Percy.The two become good friends along with Hannah. Shelby's husband goes prying into Percy's past even after talking to the sheriff. The sheriff tells him what he knows and it doesn't do any good. I do not wish to give everything away (I havn't) because the film having a multi layered story. After watching it I reflected back to it that day several times. A few weeks ago for no reason the name of the movie came to me out of no where. After 16 years I still remember it after seeing it only that one time. I watched it the other day and I was even more moved now as I was then. This film needs to be watched with family members, friends to enjoy what the film is about. The trailer sums up everything. Strait, to the point. Also it holds your attention just as good as the film will. Trailers today are mostly eye candy and they say very little what the films are about. Mostly by being too condensed. That's how they get you into the theateres.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago