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  • A poor working class woman and widow can't handle the suicide of her violent husband and turns her despair violently against her own two daughters. When the younger daughter is seeking friendship with a black neighbor widow, her mother runs amok. This very slow and silent working class family drama is one of the best of its genre that I've seen for a very long time. It's intense, touching, thrilling, although sometimes a bit too "schmaltzy" and teardrop-dominated.

    The male actors like Jon Savage and Burt Young are only playing supporting roles in this movie, and the all-female main actors are all brilliant - Ellen Barkin as an alcohol-addicted, children-beating and depressed housewife in one of her best roles, Julia Stiles and Tina Majarino as her suffering children and Oprah Winfrey as the lonely, elderly widow. This is no mainstream nostalgia like "Fried Green Tomatoes" but a breath-taking, silent family drama.
  • This film was just magical! It was made up of most Tragedies young people go through in the world today. I think the name of the movie is fantastic aswell. Because it fits the end of the story, that you can fly away from your troubles. It definitely one that is worth watching and if you liked this one you should watch where the heart is because its more or less similar. Two young sisters watch their abusive father beat up their mother for the slightest thing. Soon he kills himself and the 3 girls move away. But the mother develops a drinking problem and takes everything out on her two young daughters. One of the young daughters starts visiting a black woman in secret as her mother is set against it. Can Miss Zora help the mother put her life back on track?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this film on the television today, as I've seen some of it before and wanted to watch the whole thing. I'm glad I did. The performances are stunningly good, and the story is heartbreaking.

    You watch how the mother falls to pieces, when her druken no good husband does everyone (you should have thought) a favor and shoots himself. Well not so, - inspite of being beaten into a pulb on a regular basis - she falls to pieces when he dies. Isn't it a strange world somethimes! I love Oprah, but still without her, it would have been a wonderful film. I was in tears at the end of the film, and only wish the story had continued. Yes certainly worth a watch, but not at all for children.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The plot itself was a little stretched at the end, when Gloria's (Barkin) daughters go to live with Miss Zora (Oprah), but the performances in this were phenomenal. Barkin's performance was one of the best I had ever seen, and Oprah did a good job as well, but nothing notable.
  • I've seen the film twice but unfortunately from the scene when Gloria Mary loses her tooth. Tina played the role very well as if you're watching real life scenes not a movie. I was touched by her innocent expressions, childly looks and voice. One of the most heart-touching scenes is that when she asks her mother for a bike. Although her mother refused, she innocently kept talking about the bike. Also, the commentary on the last scenes when Bird described those moments took my feelings to the peak that I was shocked that the film ended that way. I felt so sorry for Bird that I wish to see a part-II when the family gather back. I decided to buy the book and I'm sure that when I read it I will always visualize the same characters as in the movie.
  • MJK18 October 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    Let me say at the very outset that I thought the cast did exceptionally well with the plot and script presented to them. As for that plot and that script - quite frankly this was the most insulting piece of gratuitous rubbish that I have ever seen. Ellen Barken plays Gloria Maria Jackson, a trailer-trash drunk, who has had three children (a son and two daughters) with her husband Billy, also a trailer-trash drunk and a failed C&W singer who still dreams. The son, the eldest, is away at College, and returns home only for special occasions - Thanksgiving and Christmas. For excitement and to relieve the suffering caused by the disappointment of not having made it big, Billy beats up Gloria Maria as the occasion demands, afterwards complaining bitterly "now see what you made me do?" He gets arrested, is released, returns home, beats her up some more, is arrested and all around the mulberry bush. And then one day, after one more arrest he commits suicide - and Momma Jackson falls to pieces. She wants lovin' and her Billy is dun and gone. So, she gets a trailer attached to a motel as a place of residence for her and her two daughters and proceeds to fly high wide and handsome. Hits the bottle even more, smokes incessantly, beats up her kids for no reason, particularly her youngest, nine-year-old Bird (played with great maturity by Tina Majorino), allows them no friendships, constantly demeans them (every conversation with Bird ends with the nine-year-old being called a fool). And then the constant whingeing and whining that there is no money for anything, no Christmas, no electricity, no life. Just booze, cigarettes and more of the same. So, what's the problem here? This does happen. The problem is, to take a quote from another movie, "just a little bit too much reality for a Friday night!" Why? Because the film drags on and on and on with one unbelievable scene after another, utterly and totally over the top, let's wind this up until it's at breaking point. In the meantime, Bird befriends a mysterious neighbour (a saccharine Oprah Winfrey who somehow mugged the rest of the cast into agreeing to her topping the bill), spends her days hoeing and raking about twenty square feet of some vegetable patch, and who comes to the family's rescue when things can get no worse. Drunken Momma has savagely beaten up Bird one more time too many, for no reason whatsoever (nothing new there) and has driven off somewhere to cool down. At this point, the fifteen-year-old older daughter, Phoebe (very well acted by Julia Stiles), who has taken her own share of beatings (but who recently reached breaking point and smacked Momma around the chops when Momma went too far with a fifteen-year-old) arrives back from being out with her new boyfriend, sees the carnage and runs for help to Miss Zora (Oprah Winfrey) taking Bird with her. Miss Zola hits the roof, waits for Momma, who eventually staggers (or storms) uninvited into Miss Zola's house (although she had absolutely no idea that her kids were there), is summarily manhandled out into the yard by Miss Zola who lectures her severely with some fairytale about when she was Momma's age she didn't pay attention to her own daughter, and now that daughter has left home and won't come back, and the same thing will happen to Momma and something along those stirring lines, and Momma breaks down and Momma dun say that Momma be sorry - sorry, sorry sorry. And Momma must get her life back in order and the kids go off with Miss Zora who is going to visit her daughter and hopes that she won't be slung out on her ear when she gets there. And to tell the truth I couldn't care if she was or not - as long as they don't make another film about it. There was one comfort, insofar as plots and scripts are concerned. That is that it answered one question that I had often wondered about - I now know what the bottom of the barrel is. This film attempted to portray what is a human tragedy, domestic violence, including alcoholism, the neglect and beating of wives by their husbands, and their children by either or both parents. And it showed the horror in all its unedifying glory until it was impossible for viewers to have even one scintilla of sympathy with the central character, Gloria Maria. By her actions she was portrayed as a drunk (which she was), a total bully (which she was), a child-beater (which she was), an utterly selfish and psychotic tyrant who should not be allowed even to visit children much less have care of them. I was hoping, although I knew it was never going to happen, that now that the fifteen-year-old had learned to fend for herself she would also defend her younger sister and beat this woman to a pulp.

    But it didn't happen. Along came Oprah, waved the magic words, said her abracadabra and the problem was half way to being sorted. Life isn't like that. If that were true to life the kids would have been found dead. Rubbish like this hardly inspires much confidence.
  • I was lucky enough to pick this up on video. Surely is a great movie with some good acting, and very emotional scenes. Oprah Winfrey worlds richest female, and arguably most-giving celebrity stars as one who tries and helps her new friend from her alcoholic mother and violent path. A low-budget drama, but as mentioned they're several emotional scenes and might shred a tear in your eye. I suggest you all give this a watch, especially if you've had or witnessed the problems illustrated in the movie, it will touch you in a different spot. It's also got a rare opinionated ending, whereas the viewers can decide, if it's a good or bad thing. By all means one of Oprah's best movies, and one to look out for - for every Oprah fan!
  • tbwu14 September 2006
    I was flicking through the channels and I landed on the Oxygen network. I saw the title Oprah Winfrey presents, "Before Women Had Wings". I had never heard of the movie. I decided to watch it and it sucked! The movie was awful, just like the movie "Beloved"! It was a total waste of film and the ending, well there was no ending. The author of this book must really be disappointed. It was a waste of my time and eye muscles. I like Oprah don't get me wrong, but her acting skills need improvement. I'm tired of seeing Oprah play old women! She needs help in choosing the right parts. It was just a hot mess! If Oprah is not going to give it her all like in the "Color Purple",then she needs to go sit down somewhere!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Comparing to Joan Crawford's Family violent reaction, Gloria Marie Jackson alias Glory Marie did beat her 2 daughters to death in the worst way. The TV Movie focused on the terrible times of the 1960s. The incident was took place north of Tampa, Florida from April 1965 to April 1967. After that, She's finally arrested for insult and battery and she'll take the sentence for either 10 years in prison or death. (Mainly a death sentence.)