50 Years of SIFF: The Whole Wide World

The Whole Wide World

USA | 1996 | 111 min. | Dan Ireland

Now Playing - May 2, 2024

50 Years of SIFF

In 1930s Texas, schoolteacher and aspiring author Novalyne meets Robert E. Howard, a pulp fiction writer later famed for books including “Conan the Barbarian.” The true story of a turbulent courtship and cultural moment resonates in Dan Ireland’s classic romance. NATALIE BEAUCHENE (FOOL SERIOUS) CHOICE

Seattle International Film Festival 1996 Opening Night selection and New American Cinema Competition Grand Jury Prize winner. Director Dan Ireland was a co-founder of SIFF.

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Thursday, May 2, 2024

"This saga of the tumultuous relationship between a spunky schoolteacher and an erratic pulp writer in 1930's Texas takes unpredictable turns and sneaks up on you with its sincerity and magnetic performances. Ultimately, The Whole Wide World is a tender ode to the memorable characters who pass through our lives and leave a lasting impact, even if things don't play out the way we originally hoped."--Natalie Beauchene, Fool Serious member

The story of an epic love is portrayed in exquisitely intimate terms in Dan Ireland’s haunting film about love and loss set in Depression-era Texas. The film is based on author Novalyne Price Ellis’s autobiographical memoir, “One Who Walked Alone,” which traces her turbulent romantic relationship with Robert E. Howard, the great pulp fiction writer of the 1930S who created such classics as “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Sonja.” As the film opens, Novalyne is in a tizzy: her current beau, Clyde, is bringing his best friend, a writer, with him for a visit. Novalyne, a pretty schoolteacher and aspiring author is excited to be meeting a “working writer,” though when the men arrive, her romantic notions are somewhat dashed by Robert’s slovenly appearance. During a subsequent drive through the countryside, however, Robert proves to be fascinating and charismatic, and Novalyne’s earliest assumptions about him are rekindled. One year later, she hasn’t forgotten Robert, and when she’s transferred to a post in Cross Plains, where he lives, she wastes no time in trying to contact him. Before long, their sporadic meetings evolve into a courtship of sorts, but the course of true love is a long and winding road. In this cynical age, it’s a rare thing for a screen love story to touch both your heart and your soul. The Whole Wide World is one of those rare and cherished films that accomplish this feat, thanks to a superb direction and brilliantly realized performances by Vincent D’Onofrio and Renee Zellweger. Though the love that passed between Novalyne Price and Robert E. Howard was bright and all too brief, it resonates through time with an emotional power as big as the whole wide world.

  • Director: Dan Ireland
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 111 min.
  • Producer: Carl-Jan Colpaert, Kevin Reidy, Dan Ireland, Vincent D’Onofrio
  • Screenplay: Michael Scott Myers
  • Cinematographers: Claudio Rocha
  • Editors: Luis Colina
  • Production Designer: Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Music: Vincent D’Onofrio, Renee Zellweger, Ann Wedgeworth, Harve Presnell, Benjamin Mouton
  • Website: SIFF 1996 (Best Actor, American Independent Special Jury Prize) Mar del Plata Film Festival 1996 (Best Actress) Lone Star Film and Television Awards 1998 (Best Actor, Screenplay)
  • Awards: Jolene (2008) Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) Passionada (2002) The Velocity of Gary (1998) The Rainbow (1989)
  • Filmography: In 1930s Texas, schoolteacher and aspiring author Novalyne meets Robert E. Howard, a pulp fiction writer later famed for books including “Conan the Barbarian.” The true story of a turbulent courtship and cultural moment resonates in Dan Ireland’s classic romance.
  • Language: English
  • US Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics