Dying Young

June 21st, 1991


Dying Young

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After she discovers that her boyfriend has betrayed her, Hilary O'Neil is looking for a new start and a new job...

Release Year: 1991

Rating: 5.4/10 (6,765 voted)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Stars: Julia Roberts, Campbell Scott, Vincent D'Onofrio

After she discovers that her boyfriend has betrayed her, Hilary O'Neil is looking for a new start and a new job. She begins to work as a private nurse for a young man suffering from blood cancer. Slowly, they fall in love, but they always know their love cannot last because he is destined to die.

Writers: Marti Leimbach, Richard Friedenberg

Julia Roberts - Hilary O'Neil
Campbell Scott - Victor Geddes
Vincent D'Onofrio - Gordon
Colleen Dewhurst - Estelle Whittier
David Selby - Richard Geddes
Ellen Burstyn - Mrs. O'Neil
Dion Anderson - Cappy
George Martin - Malachi
A.J. Johnson - Shauna
Daniel Beer - Danny
Behrooz Afrakhan - Moamar
Michael Halton - Gordon's Friend
Larry Nash - Assistant
Alex Trebek - Host of Jeopardy
Richard Friedenberg - Jeopardy Contestant

Taglines: She's giving him something nobody else could. A reason to live.

Release Date: 21 June 1991

Filming Locations: Filoli Estate - 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $9,725,885 (USA) (23 June 1991) (1552 Screens)

Gross: $33,669,178 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The late Colleen Dewhurst who played Estelle Whittier's character was Campbell Scott's (Victor Geddes) mother (George C. Scott was Campbell Scott's father).

Continuity: Snow covers the ground the night of the big party in Mendocino, and the roads are frozen over with ice, but the next morning, the snow and ice is completely gone from the entire landscape.

Hilary: Because I love you. And if you come back with me to the hospital and fight for us. Fight for us, I will never leave you Victor. But you have to fight. And if you get well, when you get well, I'll be there with you. And if you die, I will hold your hand. I'll hold your hand and the last thing you will ever see will be me because I love you.

User Review

A love story which stays inside of you long after viewing.


A love story, deep and consuming. The characters stay with you, like family.

(I'm not sure what a 'spoiler' might be with a title like 'Dying Young' - so, if you don't wish to know what the movie is about . . . skip this comment!)

I've survived five different cancers since 1959. I've watched many others die from cancer, mostly because I've been treated in Veterans Hospitals since 1961 which had 'open cancer wards' of forty to sixty beds and we see all there is to see in each other's lives. I've seen this movie in real life, mine and many others' lives and families.

You will be utterly absorbed by the consummate, intricate writing of Richard Freidenberg's adaptation of the Marti Leimbach novel and the 'invisible' direction - my finest compliment - done by Joel Schumacher.

Throughout the film you'll be absorbed by the character's lives. How utterly real their pain, how complete their anguish, how deep their fear,how intense their love: both of the cancer victim Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott) and the loved ones - especially the caretaker becoming lover, Hiliary O'Neil (Julia Roberts).

If the Victor Geddes character had AIDS or Parkinson or Alzheimer's Disease? The audience and reviews would be thunderous applause; nines and tens. But: about cancer? The audience is frightened to give acclaim to cancer, the shadow disease.

The predictable audience reaction to a cancer victim story is amazing: Viewers fear contagion! In real life - friends, relatives, loved ones are frightened to death to visit a person with cancer; to 'touch' them?, to breath their air?, to be nearby?. That fear is brought to the theater, to the television and to the VCR. Fear is the Bitch Goddess of Cancer and was ever present in 'Dying Yong'!

I've never seen Julia Roberts (with whom I've been stuck since 'Pretty Woman") 'disappear into a role' as she did portraying the woman in love with a man dying with cancer. (I didn't see it in 'Erin Brockavich', at least not by comparison). Campbell Scott, playing the cancer sick Vic Geddes, is likewise consumed by the character and is invisible as an actor. There is not an actor before the camera throughout the film . . . just people about whom you Give-A-Damn; about people, not actors.

This is an amazing film.

Some might think I am biased because of my having had cancer: Perhaps. But, to see the gut wrenching under current, words which are never said, emotions programmatically withheld, denial and lies issued and ignored even though instantly recognized until there is a no longer any ability to do so was (is) the most profound treatment of catastrophic illness I've ever seen on film. I kept wanting to yell at each character to speak up, shout, get it out, say something!

(I wonder if those who have not had cancer had that same reaction.)

I hope that those who see this film will see the magnificence of its incredible love story (in spite of illness!) and feel its adroit kick in the shin rendered against the 'silence and lies' between those about whom you care when ill. This story is about love, about life, not about death.

If ever an actor deserved to be awarded an Oscar it was Julia Roberts' portrayal of a woman in love with a man dying with cancer in 'Dying Young.'

See this film: It is an incredible love story! You'll feel happy for all the characters, and, yourself.

Killiam Tierney


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