Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991)

sarah-plain-and-tall-movie-posterGenre: Family Drama

Walken in Short: Don’t expect a bad-ass here. He’s a farmer. He’s quiet, non-violent, but stubborn. A father of two young children, and a widower. He has some good lines and he does well paired with Glenn Close. This is certainly not your usual Walken-film. There’s no crime, and his character is not quirky in the slightest. Just a slightly bitter man accustomed to hard-work and heart-break. Enjoy!

Movie in a Sentence: Set in the early 1900’s, a widower (Walken) in Kansas invites a head-strong woman (Close) from the coast of Maine to move to his farm, help raise his two children, and perhaps if everyone agrees, fall in love.

Director: Glenn Jordan (He didn’t direct the sequel ‘SKYLARK’ in 1993, but did direct the third one ‘WINTER’S END’ in 1999, although all three films retain the same primary cast of Walken and Close, with the same children Lexi Randall and Christopher Bell)


  • Patricia MacLachlan (book and screenplay)
  • Carol Sobieski (screenplay)

sarahplainwalkendanceDuration: one hour 38 minutes

MPAA Rating: ‘G’ – Like all Hallmark Hall of Fame (HHoF) movies, this is wholesome family entertainment.

FUN FACT: HHoF is the longest running primetime series in the history of television (1951-current); beat that, Simpsons!

Actors Other Than Walken:

  • Glenn Close – She plays the titular ‘Sarah’,vlcsnap-2013-07-09-23h38m09s178 a headstrong woman who isn’t afraid of a little work. Wise, proper, and well-spoken, she’s like a Mary Poppins from Maine, although sadly no magic. She looks magnificent in this though, and she radiates with an uncomplicated sincerity of spirit. She sings, dances, and teaches the kids how to use the Mainer-affirmative: “Ayuh.” Other than the two sequels, she works with Walken again in 2004 (also as his wife) for the disastrous ‘THE STEPFORD WIVES’ remake.
  • James Rebhorn – He plays Sarah’s brother, Jeb.vlcsnap-2013-07-10-00h34m01s209 He only has a few brief scenes with Sarah, where he tries to dissuade her from going to Kansas, but he’s good in them. He’s one of those great character actors that’s had a minor part in dozens of films, where you’re all like: “Oh it’s THAT guy!” I remember him best as Jude Law’s father in ‘THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY’. Rebhorn returns for SKYLARK in 1993 (but not the third one), and is also in the criminally underrated ‘SCOTLAND, PA’ with Walken again in 2001.
  • Lexi Randall (Anna) and Christopher Bell (Caleb)vlcsnap-2013-07-09-23h08m45s156 play Walken’s children. They do a good job, Anna is the older one and is resentful of a new woman taking her late mother’s place. Caleb is too young to remember much, and so he is immediately in love with Sarah. Actually, they remind me of the two kids in MARY POPPINS (this whole movie is a bit Poppinsey), though not as mischievous.

Walken in a hurricane

Available to Own: No blu-ray yet, (probably not imminent either) but you could get the DVD of the film by itself or find the whole trilogy in one box-set.

Similar Films: Other than the two sequels that were made, I would say that this is like ‘LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE’, or perhaps ‘LOVE COMES SOFTLY’ which I’ve never seen but it seems to have a similar plot.

Walken Content: 80% – Walken levels are high in this, just don’t go expecting him to flip out on anyone. This is a fairly straight-forward drama. He plays a ‘good man’ named Jacob Witting, who is trying to provide for what’s left of his family. There are both hard times and some scenes of joy. Really, it’s all about the chemistry between Walken and Close. They share moments of flirtation that they’re too shy to act upon, and they also have their arguments because they’re both so used to getting their own way.

"Halloo? I conch hear you."

“Halloo? I conch hear you.”

Walken Quote: Sarah loves animals. She has a cat named ‘Seal’ that she brought with her from Maine, and she was overjoyed to meet the many sheep that they had on the farm. She gives them names, and loves them immediately.

Which is a problem, because this is a farm, and we all know what happens on a farm. Gulp. Well, Walken lets her have her cuddle time, but finally levels with her when he says:

“The sheep are not pets, Sarah. We live by them, one way or another.”

~ Jacob Witting (Walken)

Should You Watch This? Although I can’t say that it’s NECESSARY Walken viewing, this is a charming family drama. It’s nice to see Walken in a dramatic role like this, stripped of violence and eccentricity. vlcsnap-2013-07-10-00h30m36s203It’s refreshing. It’s also nice to see him emote with Glenn Close. They do a wonderful job.

So in the end, this whole story is just a little too whitebread for me to proclaim that you HAVE to run out and see it, but if you’re in the mood for some fatherly Walken and some Poppins-ey Close, by all means, do it.

One comment on “Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991)

  1. Pingback: Skylark (1993) | walkenchronicles

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