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Places in the Heart(1984)

After scoring Oscars for directing and writing an adaptation of Avery Corman’s novel Kramer vs. Kramer, Robert Benton drew on his memories of growing up in Waxahachie, TX, to create the Oscar-winning screenplay for this film. The drama, set three years after Benton’s birth in 1932, focuses on a widowed mother (Sally Field) trying to keep her farm afloat and her family together in the midst of the Great Depression. Working with a homeless black man (Danny Glover) and a blind boarder (John Malkovich), she fights the banks and local racists to be the first to market with her cotton crop. The film struck a special chord with viewers, coming out in the midst of a major farming crisis in the U.S. There were two other films about farming that year, both of which won Best Actress nominations for their stars (Sissy Spacek in The River and Jessica Lange in Country). Even though she had already won an Oscar for Norma Rae (1979), Field surprised critics and audiences with her stoic turn as the determined woman. She may have surprised herself as evidenced by her shock in winning her second Oscar and deliver her often misquoted “You like me” acceptance speech. (d. Robert Benton, 111m, Digital)

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