Theatrical release poster
Directed byGarry Marshall
Written byMary Agnes Donoghue
Based onBeaches
by Iris Rainer Dart
Produced by
CinematographyDante Spinotti
Edited byRichard Halsey
Music byGeorges Delerue
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • December 21, 1988 (1988-12-21)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$57 million[3]

Beaches (also known as Forever Friends) is a 1988 American comedy-drama film adapted by Mary Agnes Donoghue and based on Iris Rainer Dart's 1985 novel of the same name. It was directed by Garry Marshall, and stars Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, Mayim Bialik, John Heard, James Read, Spalding Gray, and Lainie Kazan.

Despite generally negative reviews from critics, the film was a commercial success, grossing $59 million at the box office.


Cecilia Carol "C.C." Bloom, a New York actress and singer, receives a note during a concert rehearsal in Los Angeles and hurriedly leaves to be with her friend Hillary Whitney, a San Francisco heiress and lawyer. She drives overnight and reflects on their lifelong friendship.

They met in 1958 under the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Hillary is lost and C.C. is hiding from her stage mother Leona. They become close pen-friends; Hillary becomes a human rights lawyer, but C.C.'s singing career falters. Hillary shows up at the dive bar where C.C. is performing, their first meeting since Atlantic City. She moves in with C.C. and starts work with ACLU. C.C. finally lands work from John Pierce, a theatrical director.

The two women's friendship is put to the test by various romantic relationships, but always eventually survives these upheavals. Finally, C.C. makes it as a Broadway star. Hillary appears with her new man, Michael Essex, but there is new friction: C.C. castigates Hillary for forsaking the law; Hillary tells C.C. she's obsessed with her career. The two women's friendship seems to have ended.

They both end up getting divorces, but discover that they have been secretly jealous of each other for years: Hillary of C.C.'s talent; C.C. of Hillary's intelligence.

Hillary tells C.C. that she is pregnant, and has already decided to raise the child as a single parent. This wins her admiration from the feisty and independent C.C., who promises to stay and help her out. C.C. starts talking of settling down, and having a family of her own, having become engaged to Hillary's obstetrician, Richard Milstein. However, when C.C.'s agent calls with the perfect comeback gig for her, C.C. abandons her fiancé, and races back to New York City. Hillary gives birth to a daughter, whom she names Victoria Cecilia. When Victoria is a young girl, Hillary develops viral cardiomyopathy, requiring a heart transplant. Having a rare tissue type, she realizes she will most likely die before a heart is found.

C.C. has become a big star, having won a Tony award, and completed her latest hit album. When she learns of Hillary's illness, she accompanies Hillary and Victoria to the beach house for the summer. Hillary becomes depressed due to her debilitated state, and takes her frustration out on C.C. whom she sees having fun with and connecting with Victoria. Hillary eventually begins to accept her prognosis bravely, appreciating her time with Victoria and C.C. Hillary and Victoria return to San Francisco, while C.C. heads to Los Angeles for a concert. Hillary collapses and is found by her daughter, leading to the note C.C. receives that prompts her to leave her rehearsal. C.C. takes Hillary and Victoria to the beach house, where Hillary dies.

After the funeral, C.C. takes custody of Victoria, and the two console each other in their grief. C.C. goes forward with her concert and concludes it by singing "The Glory of Love", the first song Hillary heard her sing 30 years ago; as the song ends, C.C. tearfully waves toward the sky in tribute to Hillary. After the show, she leaves hand-in-hand with Victoria and begins telling stories of when she first met her mother.



Cottage #13 at Crystal Cove (as of 2019)

The beach house scenes were filmed at cottage #13 in what is now the Crystal Cove Historic District in Crystal Cove State Park in California.[4]


Main article: Beaches (soundtrack)

The film's theme song, "Wind Beneath My Wings", hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990.


Box office

The film took in $5,160,258 during its opening weekend beginning January 21, 1989. It grossed $57,041,866 domestically.[5]

Home media

The film was released on VHS, Betamax and laserdisc by Touchstone Home Video on August 23, 1989, with a DVD release on August 13, 2002, followed by a special-edition DVD on April 26, 2005. The film was later released in High Definition Blu-ray format on November 6, 2012.


Critical reception

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 43% based on 44 critic reviews, and an average rating of 5.1/10. The consensus summarizes: "Not all great soundtracks make good movies, and Beaches lacks the wind beneath its wings."[6] Critics almost unanimously found the film's emotional moments to be unearned, calculated, and familiar to the point of being predictable. Roger Ebert assessed that "'Beaches' lacks the spontaneity of life. This is a movie completely constructed out of other movies - out of cliches and archetypes that were old before most of the cast members were born." He found the problem was compounded by the film foreshadowing Hillary's death right from the beginning, and gave it two and a half stars.[7] Gene Siskel called it "a much too mechanical tearjerker" and criticized the slow pace, but acknowledged that he heard some sniffling among the audience and gave it two and a half stars.[8] Jay Boyar noted in the Orlando Sentinel, "In advance publicity for Beaches, it has been routinely referred to as a 'tear-jerker.' Though the term is sometimes used admiringly these days, doesn't it actually mean that a movie has emotional scenes in which the emotion is somehow trumped-up or unearned? This is the sort of picture in which people slap each other as they take their marriage vows, suddenly develop life-threatening diseases, and, again, have violent confrontations whenever there's a break in the action. Anything for a laugh, anything for a tear, and nothing much authentic." Similarly to Ebert, he called it "a 1940s retread", noting its use of antiquated themes like the idea that a woman must choose between being a mother and having a career.[9]

Dave Kehr likewise stated in the Chicago Tribune that "Beaches struggles to update a 1940s formula", describing it as particularly derivative of the 1943 film Old Acquaintance. He also felt the friendship between C.C. and Hillary to be implausible and lacking in genuine warmth, and commented that "The cardinal rule of melodrama ... is that emotion must follow from situation. When that relationship is inverted, the result is sheer manipulation and blatantly false." He gave it two stars.[10] Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times called it "the most shamelessly manipulative movie since they shot the dog in The Biscuit Eater." While opining that emotional manipulation isn't necessarily bad, she felt the film had failed to capture what made the novel it is adapted from such an effective tearjerker, by neglecting the essence of C.C. and Hillary's friendship and instead focusing on petty arguments between the two. However, she praised the performances of Midler and Hershey, and admitted that the film succeeded in making her cry.[11]

Several critics remarked that the scenes of C.C. and Hillary's childhood were more emotionally convincing and enjoyable than the rest of the film, with particular praise for Mayim Bialik's performance.[8][9][10][11] Midler's numerous singing performances were also frequently cited as a strong point in a mostly weak film.[8][9][10][11]

The film remained poorly regarded over later decades. In reviews for the 2017 remake, The New York Times and CNN Entertainment recalled the 1988 film as, respectively, "a pastiche of 1950s tear-jerkers that was set, strangely and uncomfortably, in the 1970s and ’80s. ... a shamelessly retrograde and literal-minded soap opera with a veneer of fake feminism"[12] and "a film that delivered a hit song and strong box-office results but is remembered mostly for its high schmaltz factor."[13]

Regardless of critics, the film has a very large fanbase. One that has remained strong since its release, gaining even more attention when it was in regular rotation on TV in the 1990s. Given this, “Beaches” is often used as an example of “a film critics got wrong.” It is considered a very moving story on friendship with the performances being highly regarded—often remembered as one of Bette Midler’s best. Perhaps because of its strong, unwavering fanbase “Beaches” remains a classic.


Included on the soundtrack was Midler's performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings". The song won Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Albert Brenner and Garrett Lewis).[14]

The song is recognized by American Film Institute in this list:


Television remake

Main article: Beaches (2017 film)

Lifetime announced a remake of the film, which aired on January 22, 2017. The updated version was directed by Allison Anders with the script by Bart Barker and Nikole Beckwith, and Idina Menzel plays the role of C.C.[16][17] Nia Long plays the role of Hillary alongside Menzel. The film includes the songs "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "The Glory of Love".[18][19]

Stage adaptation

A musical stage adaptation has been written, based on the book by Iris Rainer Dart, with lyrics and book by Dart and Thom Thomas (book) and music by David Austin. The musical premiered at the Signature Theatre, Arlington, Virginia in February 2014. The musical was directed by Eric D. Schaeffer, with Alysha Umphress as Cee Cee Bloom and Mara Davi as Bertie White.[20][21]

The musical next opened at the Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook, Illinois, in June 2015 (previews). Again directed by Schaeffer, Shoshana Bean plays Cee Cee and Whitney Bashor plays Bertie.[22] The choreographer is Lorin Latarro, with scenic design by Derek McLane, lighting design by Howell Binkley, costume design by Alejo Vietti and sound design by Kai Harada.[23]

Cancelled sequel

A sequel, based on the 1991 novel Beaches II: I'll Be There was planned with Barbara Eden but never filmed.


  1. ^ "Beaches (15)". British Board of Film Classification. March 13, 1989. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  2. ^ "Beaches (1988)". The Wrap. March 19, 2009. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. ^ "Beaches (1988) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  4. ^ Kraft, Randy (June 27, 2016). "Crystal Cove: The Secrets Behind Your Favorite Beach". Pelican Hill Magazine. Newport Beach: The Irvine Company. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Beaches (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  6. ^ "Beaches (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 13, 1989). "Beaches Movie Review & Film Summary". Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Siskel, Gene (January 13, 1989). "'Beaches' a Slow-Speed, Emotional Roller Coaster". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Boyar, Jay (January 14, 1989). "Beaches: No Day at the Ocean". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Kehr, Dave (January 13, 1989). "In 'Beaches', Music Is Fine". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Benson, Sheila (December 23, 1988). "Wallowing in Waves of 'Beaches' Emotion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  12. ^ Hale, Mike (January 20, 2017). "Review: They've, Sob, Remade 'Beaches'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  13. ^ Lowry, Brian (January 20, 2017). "'Beaches' Remake Doesn't Achieve Liftoff on Lifetime". CNN Entertainment. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  15. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 28, 2016). "'Beaches' Movie Remake Starring Idina Menzel Greenlighted By Lifetime". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Rice, Lynette (July 28, 2016). "Idina Menzel to play Bette Midler's 'Beaches' role for Lifetime". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  18. ^ Gioia, Michael (August 25, 2016). "Will 'Beaches' Remake, Starring Idina Menzel, Include New Scenes?". Playbill. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  19. ^ Jancelewicz, Chris (January 20, 2017). "'Beaches' Lifetime movie: 2017 remake puts new spin on old classic". Global News. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  20. ^ Marzullo, Joseph (February 11, 2014). "PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: Alysha Umphress and Mara Davi Rehearse Signature Theatre's 'Beaches'". Playbill. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  21. ^ Draut, Tiffany (March 4, 2014). "'Beaches' at Signature Theatre". DC Metro Theater Arts. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  22. ^ Weiss, Hedy (July 3, 2015). "Test Of True Friendship Drives Emotional 'Beaches' Musical". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  23. ^ Gioia, Michael (July 2, 2015). "Broadway-Bound 'Beaches', Starring Shoshana Bean and Whitney Bashor, Opens Tonight". Playbill. Retrieved July 13, 2015.