Dolores Claiborne

Still of Kathy Bates in Dolores ClaiborneStill of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kathy Bates in Dolores ClaiborneStill of Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborne


A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 7.3/10 (16,696 voted)

Critic's Score: 62/100

Taylor Hackford

Stars: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer

Dolores Claiborne works as a maid for a wealthy woman in remote Maine. When she is indicted for the elderly woman's murder, Dolores' daughter Selena returns from New York, where she has become a big-shot reporter. In the course of working out the details of what has happened, as well as some shady questions from the past and Selina's troubled childhood, many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife. This is cleverly portrayed with present reality shot in cool blue tones blending seamlessly into flashbacks shot in vivid color. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewers….

Writers: Stephen King, Tony Gilroy


Kathy Bates

Dolores Claiborne

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Selena St. George

Judy Parfitt

Vera Donovan

Christopher Plummer

Det. John Mackey

David Strathairn

Joe St. George

Eric Bogosian


John C. Reilly

Const. Frank Stamshaw

Ellen Muth

Young Selena

Bob Gunton

Mr. Pease

Roy Cooper


Wayne Robson

Sammy Marchant

Ruth Marshall


Weldon Allen


Tom Gallant


Kelly Burnett

Jack Donovan

Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend

Release Date: 24 March 1995

Filming Locations: Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Opening Weekend: $5,721,920
(26 March 1995)

Gross: $24,361,867

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The ferry at the end of the movie is called the "Joshua Slocum", named for the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone.


Crew or equipment visible:
In several shots of Selena driving into town, the camera mounted to the hood of the car is reflected in her sunglasses.


Dolores Claiborne:
If anyone is going to accuse me of killing my husband go right ahead and call me Dolores!

User Review

Expert story-telling+fine acting=good entertainment

Rating: 7/10

I first saw "Dolores Claiborne" when it came out in 1995 and have seen
it again some 3 or 4 times since, a practice I dedicate only to
"certified" masterpieces. At first, I couldn't figure out why I kept
revisiting "D.C." when it showed up on cable – it's not a cinematic
wonder or a work of art (something it doesn't strive to be, by the
way), not even a story that you can say it's really original. But as I
became more familiar with the film, I could see why it always pulled me
in: it's a triumph of story-telling, of the WAY and PACE the story is
revealed in small precise doses much like slowly completing a puzzle,
the kind of film you can only let go when the last missing piece
(Selena's final flashback) fits into place.

How the story manages to make such initially repulsive characters (all
of them!!) develop into sympathetic (or at least pathetic) ones is of
course Stephen King's special talent, expertly translated by the fine
jobs by the screenwriter, actors and director of "Dolores Claiborne".
The cinematography is kind of obvious in its distinct color treatment
of past and present, but the entire cast is inspired, including Kathy
Bates' best-ever performance (she has stated so herself), especially in
the flash-back scenes; delightfully virtuoso Judy Parfitt (you just
keep hoping along for more Vera's scenes, and each one of them is a
knockout); and reliable pros Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn
(such an underrated actor!) and John C. Reilly. Even Jennifer Jason
Leigh for once has her irritating mannerisms fit perfectly to build her
terribly tormented character.

That's what good story-telling is all about: even if you already know
the plot from A to Z, you just want to see once again the way it
unfolds, like a good scary fairy tale. "Dolores Claiborne" is not
without faults, but it's certainly worth your time, and even more than