Based on the play by Robert Harling, and based on his own life experiences ( the documentary on the DVD covers this more in depth ) and Directed by Herbert Ross, the film chronicles the lives of a group of women in a small Louisiana town over the course of a few years.
What starts of as a comedy, complete with razor sharp one liners, classic lines ( " looks like two pigs, fightin' under a blanket " ) and bursting with good old fashioned southern hospitality and sweetness the film suddenly changes direction when one of the characters, Shelby ( Roberts ) a serious diabetic, takes a turn for the worse.
You'd be hard pressed to find a cast that work so beautifully together, capturing humour, tenderness and emotion so perfectly.
The tag line of the film on it's release was " the funniest movie to make you cry " , and that sums it up perfectly.
Starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah and a sublime comedy pairing in Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis ( who incidentally steal virtually every scene they are in together ) Steel Magnolias is on par, for me, with Bette Midler's Beaches as one of those films that can make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
Highly Recommended viewing for those quiet sunday afternoons.