The Ballad Of Lucy Whipple

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Synopsis

A recently widowed mother of three uproots her family from their comfortable home in the East to start a new life in the West during the California Gold Rush.

Release year: 2001
Runtime: 100 Minutes

Production Notes

A recently widowed mother and her children learn to cope with rigors of the frontier in THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, a two-hour made-for-television movie distributed by Columbia TriStar International Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
For the prospectors of the California gold-rush town of Lucky Diggins, life is a difficult blur of desperation, cheap whiskey and cheaper women.  But for Arvella Whipple (Glenn Close), a newly widowed mother of three, it is the perfect place to realize her dream of a new life on the frontier. 
Unfortunately for her daughter, California Whipple (Jena Malone), the dream promises to be a hellish nightmare.  The prospectors are all uncouth, illiterate barbarians and her mother is too busy running the town’s only boarding house to realize how lonely and unhappy her daughter has become.  But when her mother sends her on a reluctant foray into the woods to hunt for food, California encounters a desperately ragged girl who teaches her new ways to appreciate her new environment.
Determined to establish her own identity, California changes her name to Lucy and begins changing things for herself and those around her.  She teaches her bedraggled friend to read, befriends a runaway slave and introduces him to the reluctant townsfolk, starts her own lending library for the miners and successfully defends a woman accused of killing her abusive husband. 
Lucy faces her greatest challenge, however, when her rambunctious brother, Butte (Michael Welch), falls ill and dies, leaving Arvella helpless with depression. But when her mother eventually regains her vigor and decides to leave, Lucy realizes that she has become a vital part of the community and decides to stay in Lucky Diggins, where her heart has found its home.

GLENN CLOSE

(Arvella Whipple)
Emmy Award winner and five time Academy AwardÒ nominee Glenn Close stars as Arvella Whipple, the recently widowed mother who must cope with the hardships of the frontier in THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, a two-hour made-for-television movie distributed by Columbia TriStar International Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Internationally respected as a monumentally gifted actress, Glenn Close has lent her prodigious talents to some of the finest film and television productions of her generation.  From her Academy AwardÒ nominated debut in the 1982 feature The World According To Garp, Close has gone on to earn additional, well-earned OscarÒ nominations for her work in The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons.  She has also starred in some of the most memorable and successful featurefilms of the past twenty years including 101 Dalmatians, Mary Reilly, Mars Attacks, Air Force One and In And Out.
Equally respected is Glenn Close’s award winning body of work for television.  She won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress and was nominated for her work as executive producer in the made-for-television movie Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.  She earned dual Emmy Award nominations for her work as both lead actress and producer in Sarah, Plain And Tall and has been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress for her starring performances in Something About Amelia, Skylark and In The Gloaming. All totaled, she has starred in nearly a dozen made-for-television movies including Too Far To Go, Orphan Train, She’ll Take Romance and Journey.
In addition, she has lent her voice talents to the feature films Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Light Years, Anne Frank Remembered and Tarzan as well as the television productions Lincoln, The Simpsons and the mini-series A Century Of Women.

JENA MALONE
(Lucy Whipple)
Jena Malone stars as Lucy Whipple, the reluctant teenager who learns to love the difficult life of the frontier in THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, a two-hour made-for-television movie distributed by Columbia TriStar International Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Although her acting career has only begun, teen-aged actress Jena Malone has already collected several impressive credits for her work on television and in feature films.  From her debut in the recurring role of Debbie in the series Homicide: Life On The Street, Miss Malone has appeared in the series Chicago Hope and Touched By An Angel.  In addition, she starred in the made-for-television movies Hidden In America, Hope and Ellen Foster.
Jena Malone’s feature film credits include supporting roles in some of the past decade’s finest movies including Bastard Out Of Carolina, Contact, Stepmom and For Love Of The Game.  Her career has only begun, however, and she will soon make memorable appearances in the upcoming films The Book Of Stars and Cheaters.

MICHAEL WELCH

(Butte)
Michael Welch stars as Butte, in THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, a two-hour made-for-television movie distributed by Columbia TriStar International Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
For the past two years, young Michael Welch has been busy launching his promising career as a television and feature film actor.  From his debut performance as the young Niles Crane in an unforgettable episode of Frasier, Welch has gone on to make a notable guest appearance on the hit series Chicago Hope.  He has also enjoyed a recurring role as Michael Rush in the series Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place as well as the recurring role of Gabe in the hit series Jesse.
In addition to his work for television, Michael Welch has shown considerable promise with his film debut as Artim in the 1998 hit feature Star Trek: Insurrection, for which he earned a Young Artist Award for Best Performance – Supporting Young Actor.

Cast and Crew

Cast

  • Glenn Close
  • Jena Malone
  • Meat Loaf
  • Bruce McGill
  • Wilford Brimley
  • Robert Pastorelli

Crew

  • CinematographerNeil Roach
  • ComposerBruce Broughton
  • DirectorJeremy Paul Kagan
  • EditorMichael Economou
  • ProducerMichael O. Gallant
  • TeleplayChristopher Lofton

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