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Grace Quigley

By Jeff Shannon

Katharine Hepburn appeared in several TV movies after this and made a memorable appearance in the 1994 remake of Love Affair, but Grace Quigley marked the great Kate's final leading role in a theatrically released feature. It's easy to see why she was drawn to the material, because there's a smart and pointed comedy lurking in here somewhere, and reuniting with director Anthony Harvey (who guided Hepburn to an Oscar in The Lion in Winter) must have added extra incentive. And while Harvey's approach here is woefully misguided, Kate's intelligence shines through in her title role as an elderly woman who hires a hit man named Seymour (Nick Nolte) to knock her off. Life's been good, Grace argues, and it's better to go out on her own terms than spend her twilight years in a dismal nursing home.

Ironically, hiring Seymour has a revitalizing effect, and Grace assembles an eager batch of elderly clients, all waiting for Seymour to send them to the sweet hereafter. He's no longer an evil killer but an angel of mercy, and business is booming! In fact, the only thing that's poorly executed is the movie itself; Harvey's sense of comedy is too dry, too bland to capitalize on the dark laughs of this premise, and the movie grows morbidly stilted. Even then, Hepburn's grace is a blessing; Nolte is amiably disarmed by her timeless charm, and this death-obsessed movie can't dim her wit and wisdom. Even when Grace Quigley (presented here in its shortened theatrical version) isn't firing on all pistons, Kate's irresistible.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)DVD unavailableSoundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Anthony Harvey

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Nick Nolte, Elizabeth Wilson, Chip Zien, Kit Le Fever, William Duell, Walter Abel, Denny Dillon

Released: November 16, 1985

Availability: VHS


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