The Grass Harp

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The Grass Harp

Despite a good cast (Walter Matthau, Piper Laurie, Jack Lemmon) and a leisurely tone that makes it difficult to dislike, this adaptation of a Truman Capote novel never turns into the winning, heartwarming comic drama it would like to be. Laurie plays an eccentric spinster who makes the formative years of a future writer memorable. A strong-willed sister (Sissy Spacek) keeps her independence in check, a situation complicated by the cautious amorous advances of a retired judge (Matthau, whose son Charles directed). There's enough quirky southern charm on display to fill a season's worth of The Jeff Foxworthy Show, but the movie ultimately has all the edge and impact of an episode of Father Murphy. Roddy McDowall's supporting performance—his best in years—almost makes it worth a look.