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Mr. Holland's Opus

Still of Richard Dreyfuss and Glenne Headly in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Jay Thomas in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Stephen Herek in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Stephen Herek in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Olympia Dukakis in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Jay Thomas in Mr. Holland's Opus


A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 7.1/10 (19,917 voted)

Stephen Herek

Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas

Glenn Holland is a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent while, in his 'spare time', he can strive to achieve his true goal – compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world. As Holland discovers 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans' and as the years unfold the joy of sharing his contagious passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success.


Richard Dreyfuss

Glenn Holland

Glenne Headly

Iris Holland

Jay Thomas

Bill Meister

Olympia Dukakis

Principal Jacobs

William H. Macy

Vice Principal Wolters

(as W.H. Macy)

Alicia Witt

Gertrude Lang

Terrence Howard

Louis Russ

Damon Whitaker

Bobby Tidd

Jean Louisa Kelly

Rowena Morgan

Alexandra Boyd

Sarah Olmstead

Nicholas John Renner

Cole at 6 Years Old

Joseph Anderson

Cole at 15 Years Old

Anthony Natale

Cole at 28 Years Old

Joanna Gleason

Adult Gertrude

Beth Maitland

Deaf School Principal

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Release Date: 19 January 1996

Filming Locations: Christie School – Highway 43, Marylhurst, Oregon, USA

Gross: $82,528,097
(28 July 1996)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


An old cold storage building that was part of an abandoned fruit cannery in Gresham, Oregon was used for the construction of props (John F. Kennedy High School road sign) The interior and exterior of the apartment they lived in as well as the house seen later in the film. The apartment exterior was recreated after an actual building located in Portland, Or.


During the final performance, a close-up of Iris shows her preparing to take a snapshot. In the next wide shot of the crowd, Iris is seen with her hands down.


Louis Russ:
Tubas are for fat guys with pimples.

User Review

Oh for the love of crumbcake…


So many people have complained about the Gertrude Lang character (Alicia
Witt), Holland's interaction with her, and the purpose of the character,
I am simply amazed at the hostility.

1) "Playing the sunset" was Holland's way of getting Gertrude to relax so
she could play the notes fluidly. They both knew that she didn't sound
professional, and wasn't going to. The idea was to get her just above the
level of making a fool of herself as she did the first time he called on
in class. Then she could, and did, perform in the band without dragging
the whole ensemble.

2) Her goal was not to be a professional musician. Did no one else hear her
speech about "I just wanted to be good at *something*"? She listed all the
fabulous achievements of her parents and siblings, and concluded, "I'm the
only one who's…" The missing word would have been "useless" or
"worthless". Or "a failure". Thirty years later she's the governor (not the
mayor!), because in 1966, Holland helped her gain confidence for the first

3) She wasn't "wasting" Holland's efforts by going into politics. Art,
and theater education don't exist solely to create professional artists,
musicians and actors. They also exist to give young people an opportunity
for change and growth, even if they never use a paintbrush

I liked that plot twist. Almost every high school has an alumnus who has
achieved something in art or entertainment, but a lot of people sell one
painting or appear in one film and become a hero to their home town. But
there are only fifty states, and it takes an extraordinary amount of drive
to become governor of one of them. It's unlikely that she would have taken
that first step towards empowerment without Holland.