An All-Time Favorite Mom In Films...Irma P. Hall

by Cynthia Reid
May 7, 2011 5:54 AM
5 Comments
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As I sit pondering what color roses to get my Mom for Mother's Day tomorrow and if dinner will be on time (my sisters are usually slow and late) , I couldn't help but think about the great moms in films. If I did a list, and there are quit a few out there on various film sites, it most certainly would be endless but the one person who would probably be in the top 5 for me is actress Irma P. Hall.

If there was a "Mom Oscar" she should get it. Probably her most memorable role was Mother Joe from the film Soul Food. That 1997 film became a box-office success making over $43 million, with a budget of $7.5 million, and spawned a successful television series.

The Ladykillers, a Joel and Ethan Cohen film starring Tom Hanks along with Marlon Wayans, was another film showcasing her abilities. But the film where she steals the show is the 1996 film A Family Thing co-starring Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones.

Co-written by Billy Bob Thorton and directed by Richard Pearce, A Family Thing tells the story of a redneck farmer (Duvall) living in Arkansas who finds out his real mother is black via a letter written by his recently deceased Mother. The letter explains her desire for him to meet his half brother (Jones) so he decides to uphold her wish and go visit him in Chicago.

The reception he receives is "frosty" and it takes the emphatic wise words along with understanding conveyed by the family matriarchal figure Aunt T (Hall) to bring the brothers together. Hall's scenes in the film aren't numerous but when you see her she definitely shines.

The film wasn't a financial success but critics gave it decent praise and acknowledged Hall brought the film to another level.

Roger Ebert states..."The most satisfying and entertaining element of the film, however, is the performance by Irma P. Hall, a veteran actress who walks away with every scene she's in, even when up against seasoned pros like Jones and Duvall. She has a great weight of moral authority in her character, but even more important is her fierce timing: When she says something, it is said in a way that makes it final and irrefutable, and she is the person who says much of what needs to be said about this relationship."

If you get a chance, check the film out and have a great day honoring or remembering your Mom, Grandmother or "Aunt T."


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5 Comments

  • Irma P. Hall | September 4, 2011 8:55 AMReply

    Just wanted to say thanks for the kind things said about me Irma P. Hall. I just happened to find this. I am not very computer liter. Also I am pretty busy. I usually just deal with e-mail. By the grace of God I am still working in film and on stage. Just finished two films this summer.

  • Tamara | May 9, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    Great post. Great actress. She's one whose name I don't always remember, but I always recognize her in a scene. As you all say, she steals and kills her performances :) in a good way lol

  • Kelea7 | May 8, 2011 3:45 AMReply

    Lovelovelove her!

    @CareyCarey...please don't get me started on A Lesson Before Dying! That movie kills me and she kills every role she plays.

  • Nadell | May 8, 2011 2:02 AMReply

    Aww, I just absolutely love her! Every movie she's in, she just gives that motherly feel. She's so loveable!
    She certainly deserves a Matriarch Oscar!
    Thank you, Mrs. Irma P. Hall!!!!

  • CareyCarey | May 7, 2011 11:09 AMReply

    What a fitting post, Cynthia. I can simply think about Erma P. Hall and start crying or say yes maam to every woman I see. :-)

    And, you know what, because there’s so many movies that I loved her in, I researched her career to jog my memory, and I found a serendipitous reward for doing so.

    Look: [she] Became an actress rather late in life and completely by surprise. A teacher of languages for almost three decades in Dallas, she was seen reading poetry by actor/director Raymond St. Jacques, who was in town shooting a movie, and he offered her a role in his film on the spot.

    Wow, I’ve heard this said in so many ways.... “it’s never too late”.

    Now, I am going to say (although there are many) that I can’t help but think of her role in A Lesson Before Dying. That movie, and her, had me up in here crying.

    I think I’ll call my momma and tell her I love her and appreciate her and fix her dinner tomorrow.

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