In 1985, "The Color Purple" was nominated for nine Academy Awards, but Steven Spielberg was not nominated for Best Director. Spielberg was still largely envied and this was his first real attempt at drama.
Alice Walker's novel (I never read it) is of course the basis for the film of the same name. Ultimately, it is a tale of a woman's struggle to overcome a lifetime of abuse, ridicule and misogyny.
Whoopi Goldberg was introduced to the public in this film, ironically in a dramatic role for the comedienne.
Danny Glover is the critical character. It is Glover who is the abusive husband and father, who by hook or crook keeps Goldberg in her place.
Oprah Winfrey, who marries their son Harpo serves as a willful woman who cowtows to no one. That is, until she ends up in jail for confronting the Mayor's wife. Upon leaving prison, the will is lost.
Inevitably, the heroine, gets motivated to change her life for the better. She leaves the house, opens a business and shines.
Danny Glovers' character, however has a quiet moment of redemption, when he makes the effort to reunite Whoopi with her sister, and does it without her being aware of the effort.
This is the closet thing to a John Ford like film that Steven Spielberg ever directed. It has all those qualities down to ambient noise in the background as the camera closes up on its star. The sound of the swinging picket fence as he closes in on Whoopi's face when she finds no letter from her sister in the mailbox. Simple and poignant and effective.