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White Palace is a 1990 film starring Susan Sarandon and James Spader. It is a romantic drama about the unlikely relationship between a young middle class widower (Spader) who falls in love with a middle-aged working class waitress (Sarandon) in St. Louis, Missourimarker. The film was based on a novel of the same title by Glenn Savan (who appears in the film as an extra with a small speaking part), and was directed by Luis Mandoki from a screenplay by Ted Tally and Alvin Sargent. The original music score is composed by George Fenton. The film is marketed with the tagline "The story of a younger man and a bolder woman."

The title was originally to have been The White Castle, and the novel even makes reference to a specific real White Castle location at the intersection of S. Grand Blvd. and Gravois Ave. in south St. Louis, but the restaurant chain refused permission to use its trademarked name in either the novel or the film, and also refused permission to allow any of its restaurants for filming locations.

Instead, an independent diner at the intersection of North Eighteenth and Olive Streets just west of downtown St. Louis was used - and that address is even given in the film as a plug for the diner. After the film was released the diner's owners sought permission to permanently rename it "White Palace", but were refused by the studio, so the diner was instead renamed "White Knight".

The movie also features Jason Alexander, Kathy Bates, Steven Hill, Jeremy Piven, and Renee Taylor, and was shot almost entirely in the St. Louis area, including the Thanksgiving Dinner scenes, which were filmed in a private home off Conway Road located at #2 Frontenac Place in west St. Louis Countymarker, and Nora's house, which was in the Dogtown neighborhood of the City of St. Louis northwest of the intersection of Hampton and Manchester Avenues at 1521 W. Billon Avenue.


Twenty-seven-year-old St. Louis advertising executive Max Baron (James Spader) has completely shut himself off from the world in the two years since the auto accident death of his wife (Maria Pitillo). On the way to the bachelor party of his friend Neil (Jason Alexander) he picks up 50 burgers from a diner, however he realises that the order is six burgers short and returns to White Palace to complain.

Following a heated exchange with the waitress Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon), he gets his money refunded and returns to the party. He leaves the party drunk and runs into Nora at a bar, he gives her a lift home but crashes his car into her mailbox, he stays the night, and they sleep together.

After visiting his wife's grave on the second anniversary of her death Max returns to the White Palace to see Nora, but misses her. He visits her at home, with the pretext of replacing the mailbox but instead they begin a relationship, with Max becoming more open and relaxed, but reluctant to reveal his relationship to his family and friends. Max attempts to introduce Nora to culture, but she resists, feeling the age difference and their cultural differences put a strain on the relationship.

Nora is angry that Max didn't take her to Neil's wedding, and they argue about why Max won't introduce Nora to his family and friends. Nora's sister Judy (Eileen Brennan) meets Max the following day and explains to him how they were abandoned as children and how she left Nora in care. Judy explains how Nora was devastated when her son died.

While at the supermarket Max runs into Neil's wife, Rachel (Rachel Chagall) who invites him and his "mystery woman" to Thanksgiving. At Max's apartment Nora hears a message on his answerphone inviting them to the Horowitz's for Thanksgiving, and the both resolve to attend.

At the dinner with Neil, Rachel, Mrs Baron (Renee Taylor), and Max's friends and the Horowitz's extended family Nora and Max are made to feel uncomfortable, and following a remark by Neil's father they walk out. After the dinner Nora and Max argue.

Nora quits the White Palace and leaves St Louis. Max finds her house empty and a note explaining to Max why she had to leave. He goes to a brunch and meets Heidi Solomon (Kim Myers), but Max cannot stop thinking about Nora. He travels to New York to see Judy and she tells Max that Nora is working in a restaurant. Max goes to the restaurant and confesses his love to Nora, where he reveals that he has moved to New York to be with her. They re-unite, kissing tenderly while patrons of the restaurant look on, then Max playfully clears the table of it’s contents and lays a laughing Nora down on it climbing on top of her and passionately kisses her neck and lips while the whole restaurant cheers and applauds.

Main cast

Actor Role
Susan Sarandon Nora Baker
James Spader Max Baron
Jason Alexander Neil
Kathy Bates Rosemary
Eileen Brennan Judy
Steven Hill Sol Horowitz
Rachel Chagall Rachel
Corey Parker Larry Klugman
Renee Taylor Edith Baron
Jonathan Penner Marv Miller
Barbara Howard Sherri Klugman
Kim Myers Heidi Solomon
Mitzi McCall Sophie Rosen


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