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A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (1982)

An elderly widow must find meaning and activity in her life when her son suggests she is no longer capable of handling her own affairs.


George Schaefer


John Gay, Robert Oliphant (book)
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Esther McDonald Cimino
Penny Fuller ... Mrs. Polanski
Christopher Guest ... Philip Ryan
George Hearn ... George Cimino
Graham Jarvis ... Leach
Alexa Kenin ... Karen Cimino
Keenan Wynn ... Barney Fellman
Paul Roebling Paul Roebling ... Roger Desmond
LeRoy Schulz LeRoy Schulz ... Harold Cimino
Walter Marsh ... Dr. Mitchell
Celeste Insell ... Nurse Graham
Fran Gebhard Fran Gebhard ... Gloria Cimino
Karen Austin ... Alice Cimino
Anna Hagan ... Social Service Dir.
Antony Holland ... Judge Schultz
Learn more

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Esther Cimino, a music teacher who has reached retirement age, finds that her mental faculties are slipping somewhat. The film is a trenchant, realistic study of the ravages and displacements, socially, physically, and mentally, that are visited upon a once-proud, sensitive, and still highly intelligent woman who is declared mentally incompetent by her children. She is subjected to a hearing, where her blurred responses prompt the judge to put her in a nursing home, and she begins to deteriorate. However, her granddaughter who loves her rouses her back to life and helps her learn how to live again. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


The teleplay by John Gay is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Oliphant. See more »

User Reviews

The difficulties of old age
24 December 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have regarded Bette Davis very highly as an actress, and still do. She was in many very good to masterful films throughout her very long career and she was seldom less than good. Her Margo Channing in one of my favourite films 'All About Eve' is iconic. Another big selling point of 'A Piano for Mrs Cimino' was the subject matter, one that can be universally related to and one that is still relevant now and not always easy to portray.

'A Piano for Mrs Cimino' does a great job with how it handles the difficulties and different sides of old age and how it affects others, the latter not being trivialised which was a good thing. Handling it in a knowing manner that is both compelling and emotional. Sure it is not always subtle and at times gets on the melodramatic side, a danger with dramas dealing with difficult and universal subjects. The pace is mostly secure actually but occasionally drags and doesn't find its rhythm straight away. Anything, regardless of how the execution is, that explores themes like those seen here and ones even heavier though is worthy of admiration for even trying. 'A Piano for Mrs Cimino' is no exception.

Davis is the main reason to see 'A Piano for Mrs Cimino' in a performance that is not among her all-time best but for me it is among her better later years performances. Like the handling of the subject matter, it is not always a subtle performance but it is a very moving and quite powerful ones. To me the pathos was not overdone and was portrayed poignantly, and neither was the feistiness which stopped the portrayal from becoming too mawkish and made one admire her character more.

The rest of the cast shouldn't be overlooked, with a touching and sympathetic Alexa Kerrin being the one to primarily stand out as the most sympathetic supporting character, and even perhaps character overall, in the film. George Hearn does very well portraying his character's unscrupulousness, avoiding the cartoonish route. Graham Jarvis is likeable too. The characters do have a realism to them.

Visually, 'A Piano for Mrs Cimino' looks pleasing and doesn't look too made for television while not being too flashy. It's thought-provokingly scripted and doesn't become too over-the-top or too low-key. As said already, the difficult and relevant subject depicted is handled maybe not subtly but in a way that's poignant and relatable.

Overall, very good. Not a Davis high-point but it is well worth seeing for her alone. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

3 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Piano für Mrs. Cimino See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Monica, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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