Beaches (1988)

Beaches (1988)

Taglines: Friends come and go but there’s always one you’re stuck with for life.

When the New York child performer CC Bloom and San Fransisco rich kid Hillary meet in a holiday resort in Atlantic City, it marks the start of a lifetime friendship between them. The two keep in touch through letters for a number of years until Hillary, now a successful lawyer moves to New York to stay with struggling singer CC. The movie shows the various stages of their friendship and their romances including their love for the same man.

Beaches (also known as Forever Friends) is a 1988 American comedy-drama film adapted by Mary Agnes Donoghue from the Iris Rainer Dart novel of the same name. It was directed by Garry Marshall, and stars Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, Mayim Bialik, Skyler Blask, John Heard, James Read, Spalding Gray, and Lainie Kazan.

Despite generally negative reviews from critics, the film was a commercial success, grossing $59 million in the box office, and gained a cult following. A sequel, based on the novel Beaches II: I’ll Be There was planned with Barbara Eden but never filmed.

Beaches (1988)

About the Story

The story of two friends from different backgrounds, whose friendship spans more than 35 years through childhood, love, and tragedy: Cecilia Carol “C.C.” Bloom (Bette Midler), a New York actress and singer, and Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey), a San Francisco heiress and lawyer. The film begins with middle-aged C.C. receiving a note during a rehearsal for her upcoming Los Angeles concert. She leaves the rehearsal in a panic and tries frantically to travel to her friend’s side. Unable to get a flight to San Francisco because of fog, she rents a car and drives overnight, reflecting on her life with Hillary.

It is 1958; a rich little girl Hillary (Marcie Leeds) meets child performer C.C. (Mayim Bialik) under the boardwalk on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Hillary is lost and C.C. is hiding from her overbearing stage mother (Lainie Kazan). They become fast friends, growing up and bonding through letters of support to each other. A grown-up Hillary goes on to become a human rights lawyer, while C.C.’s singing career is not exactly taking off.

They write to each other regularly and give updates on their lives. Hillary shows up at the New York City dive bar where C.C. is performing, their first meeting since Atlantic City. She moves in with C.C. and gets a job with the ACLU. C.C. is now performing singing telegrams, leading to a job offer from John (John Heard), the artistic director of the Falcon Players, after she sings his birthday telegram.

Beaches (1988)

A love triangle ensues as Hillary and John are instantly attracted to one another, leaving C.C. in the cold and feeling resentment toward her best friend. Matters are made worse when Hillary and John sleep together on the opening-night of C.C.’s first lead in an off-Broadway production. When Hillary returns home to care for her ailing father, the two friends resolve their issues about John, as John does not have romantic feelings for C.C.

After her father passes away, Hillary spends time at her family beach house with lawyer Michael Essex (James Read), eventually marrying him. C.C. and John spend a lot of time together, start dating and eventually marry. Hillary and Michael travel to New York to see C.C. perform on Broadway, where she has become a star. When C.C. finds out that Hillary has stopped working as a lawyer, she accuses Hillary of giving up on her dreams. Hillary responds that C.C. has become no more than a “pretentious, social climber” who is obsessed with her career. After the argument, Hillary ignores C.C.’s letters, throwing herself into being a dutiful, but unchallenged, wife.

John tells C.C. that her self-centeredness and obsession with her career has him feeling left behind and he asks for a divorce. Despite the separation, John tells her, ‘I love you, I’ll always love you. I just want to let go of us before us gets bad.’ Upset at the thought of her marriage failing, C.C. turns to her mother, who lives in Miami Beach. Her mother tells her that she has given up a lot for her daughter, and C.C. starts to understand when her mother tells her the effect that her selfishness has had on those closest to her.

Meanwhile, Hillary returns home from a trip earlier than expected to find her husband having breakfast with another woman, both wearing pajamas. When Hillary learns that C.C. is performing in San Francisco, she makes contact for the first time in years. They learn of each other’s divorces, then discover that they have been secretly jealous of each other for years: Hillary is upset that she has none of the talent or charisma that C.C. is noted for, while C.C. admits she has always been envious of Hillary’s beauty and intelligence. The two then realize that their feud could have been avoided by honest communication.

Beaches Movie Poster (1988)

Beaches (1988)

Directed by: Garry Marshall
Starring: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard, Spalding Gray, Lainie Kazan, James Read, Grace Johnston, Mayim Bialik, Marcie Leeds, Lynda Goodfriend, Nikki Plant
Screenplay by: Mary Agnes Donoghue
Production Design by: Albert Brenner
Cinematography by: Dante Spinotti
Film Editing by: Richard Halsey
Costume Design by: Robert De Mora
Set Decoration by: Michael Bird, Garrett Lewis
Art Direction by: William Barclay, Frank Richwood
Music by: Georges Delerue
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: December 21, 1988