Mr. Holland's Opus

January 19th, 1996


Mr. Holland's Opus

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Still of Richard Dreyfuss and Glenne Headly in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Jay Thomas in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Stephen Herek in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Stephen Herek in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Olympia Dukakis in Mr. Holland's OpusStill of Richard Dreyfuss and Jay Thomas in Mr. Holland's Opus

A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 7.1/10 (19,917 voted)

Director: Stephen Herek

Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas

Glenn Holland is a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent while, in his 'spare time', he can strive to achieve his true goal - compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world. As Holland discovers 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans' and as the years unfold the joy of sharing his contagious passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success.

Richard Dreyfuss - Glenn Holland
Glenne Headly - Iris Holland
Jay Thomas - Bill Meister
Olympia Dukakis - Principal Jacobs
William H. Macy - Vice Principal Wolters (as W.H. Macy)
Alicia Witt - Gertrude Lang
Terrence Howard - Louis Russ
Damon Whitaker - Bobby Tidd
Jean Louisa Kelly - Rowena Morgan
Alexandra Boyd - Sarah Olmstead
Nicholas John Renner - Cole at 6 Years Old
Joseph Anderson - Cole at 15 Years Old
Anthony Natale - Cole at 28 Years Old
Joanna Gleason - Adult Gertrude
Beth Maitland - Deaf School Principal

Taglines: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Release Date: 19 January 1996

Filming Locations: Christie School - Highway 43, Marylhurst, Oregon, USA

Gross: $82,528,097 (USA) (28 July 1996)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

An old cold storage building that was part of an abandoned fruit cannery in Gresham, Oregon was used for the construction of props (John F. Kennedy High School road sign) The interior and exterior of the apartment they lived in as well as the house seen later in the film. The apartment exterior was recreated after an actual building located in Portland, Or.

Continuity: During the final performance, a close-up of Iris shows her preparing to take a snapshot. In the next wide shot of the crowd, Iris is seen with her hands down.

Louis Russ: Tubas are for fat guys with pimples.

User Review

Oh for the love of crumbcake...


So many people have complained about the Gertrude Lang character (Alicia Witt), Holland's interaction with her, and the purpose of the character, and I am simply amazed at the hostility.

1) "Playing the sunset" was Holland's way of getting Gertrude to relax so she could play the notes fluidly. They both knew that she didn't sound professional, and wasn't going to. The idea was to get her just above the level of making a fool of herself as she did the first time he called on her in class. Then she could, and did, perform in the band without dragging down the whole ensemble.

2) Her goal was not to be a professional musician. Did no one else hear her speech about "I just wanted to be good at *something*"? She listed all the fabulous achievements of her parents and siblings, and concluded, "I'm the only one who's..." The missing word would have been "useless" or "worthless". Or "a failure". Thirty years later she's the governor (not the mayor!), because in 1966, Holland helped her gain confidence for the first time.

3) She wasn't "wasting" Holland's efforts by going into politics. Art, music and theater education don't exist solely to create professional artists, musicians and actors. They also exist to give young people an opportunity for change and growth, even if they never use a paintbrush again.

I liked that plot twist. Almost every high school has an alumnus who has achieved something in art or entertainment, but a lot of people sell one painting or appear in one film and become a hero to their home town. But there are only fifty states, and it takes an extraordinary amount of drive to become governor of one of them. It's unlikely that she would have taken that first step towards empowerment without Holland.


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