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10 Movies Made for TV [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky
Based on a book by Norman Maclean, and closely based on his own youthful experiences, this made-for-TV drama concerns Mac (Jerry O'Connell), a teenage boy who gets a job working for the National Forest Service in Montana shortly after the end of World War II. With the help of veteran ranger Bill Bell (Sam Elliott), Mac learns a lot about forest management -- and about life. The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky also features Ricky Jay and Molly Parker. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Logan's War: Bound by Honor
Logan Fallon was ten years old the night gangsters burst into his home and brutally murdered his district-attorney father and the rest of his family. Somehow, the boy had a premonition before it happened and saved himself. This actioner follows the adult Logan on his quest to honor his promise to avenge his slain family. His uncle, an ex-Army ranger, assists him. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Once Upon a Texas Train
The made-for-TV Once Upon a Texas Train offers us the once-in-a-lifetime teaming of Richard Widmark, Willie Nelson and Angie Dickinson. Nelson plays a veteran outlaw who robs a bank less than 6 hours after being paroled from jail. He uses the money to reunite his old gang, then sets about to repeat the train robbery that had gotten him arrested 20 years earlier. This time, however, Nelson is himself targetted for theft by a young, hungrier band of desperadoes. Widmark plays the lawman who caught Nelson before and intends to do so again. Written and directed by the reliable Burt Kennedy, Once Upon a Texas Train premiered January 3, 1988. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gore Vidal's Lincoln
Originally telecast in two parts on March 27 and 28 of 1988, Lincoln was adapted from the bestselling "factual fiction" by Gore Vidal. Sam Waterston stars as Abraham Lincoln, with Mary Tyler Moore frighteningly convincing as the tragic Mary Todd Lincoln. Predictably, Part One of Lincoln deals with the inauguration, the outbreak of War, and the president's tiltings with his cabinet, while Part Two includes the Emancipation Proclamation, the appointment of General Grant (James Gammon), and the assassination. The throughline of the script is the deteriorating mental condition of Mary Lincoln, not to mention her injurious impulsiveness: at one point, Honest Abe must cover up the fact that Mary has stolen a copy of his inaugural speech and sold it. Evidently, the name of Gore Vidal was not considered enough of a drawing card by the NBC publicists, who insisted upon advertising Lincoln as the second coming of Gone With the Wind, adding the teaser tagline "The Untold Story." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Roughing It
Based on Mark Twain's 1872 autobiographical novel, this made-for-cable film is presented in flashback form, as aged humorist Mark Twain (James Garner) is invited to be keynote speaker at the Bryn Mawr graduation ceremonies of 1891. At first worried that his reputation as a verbal japester will embarrass his daughter Suzy, who is among the graduates, Twain elects to throw all caution to the winds by delivering an inspirational speech in which he recalls his own early days as a Missouri-bred greenhorn on the wild western frontier. Admitting that his recollections may stretch the truth a bit ("When I was younger, I could remember it, whether it happened or not"), Twain spins a tale of two brothers, Sam and Orion Clemens ("Sam Clemens" was of course, Twain's given name). Envious over the fact that Orion (Greg Spottiswood) has landed a job as secretary to the governor of Nevada Territory, young Sam Clemens (Robin Dunne) insists upon tagging along, thereby launching an extended adventure which would include a rugged interlude digging for gold under the baleful eye of a brutal foreman (Eric Roberts), a bone-chilling winter, and an episode involving a gang of outlaws headed by a man (Ned Beatty) so mean that he bit off the ears of his victims as a "calling card." Also in the cast are Jill Eikenberry as Twain's wife Livy and Adam Arkin as a wild-eyed "character" named Henry. Filmed in Calgary, the four-hour miniseries version of Mark Twain's Roughing It was presented by the Hallmark cable channel beginning March 16, 2002. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad
Coproduced by two cable-TV servies-The Family Channel and the Black Entertainment Network--Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad uses historical fact as background for a fictional adventure tale. Courtney Vance and Janet Bailey star as slaves on a brutal antebellum North Carolina plantation. Together with two other slaves, Vance and Bailey make a daring escape, travelling northward by means of the eponymous railroad. Though the film isn't as suspenseful as it should be, it provides a valuable educational service in detailing the history of the Underground Railroad, the people responsible for its maintenance, and its modus operandi. Race to Freedom was first telecast on the Family Channel February 19, 1994, in tandem with an encore presentation of Roots (1977). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

I Will Fight No More Forever
Originally telecast as a "Xerox Special" on April 14, 1975, I Will Fight No More Forever is the true story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians. In 1877, Joseph (played by Ned Romero) refuses to obey a governmental order to remove himself and his tribe to a reservation. General Howard (James Whitmore), the cavalry officer ordered to prevent the Nez Perce from defying the government's edicts, sympathizes with the honorable and courageous Joseph, but duty is duty. Ultimately, Chief Joseph and his followers make a disastrous attempt to escape over the border to Canada. Filmed in central Mexico, I Will Fight No More Forever was written for television by Jeb Rosebrook and Theodore Strauss. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Ransom of Red Chief
This version of O. Henry's oft adapted comical short story stays close to the original and chronicles the chaos suffered by two vagrants who decide to kidnap a little boy who turns out to be such a terror that they must pay a ransom for his parents to take him back. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank
This 1988 TV movie covers much of the same ground previously assessed in the stage and movie versions of The Diary of Anne Frank. The principal difference is that this adaptation is told from the point of view of Miep Gies (Mary Steenburgen), the courageous Dutch gentile who, together with her husband (Huub Stapel) risked her life by hiding the Jewish Frank family in the attic of an Amsterdam office building during World War 2. We see how Gies and other good Samaritans attempted to protect and provide sustenance for their Jewish neighbors, right under the noses of the Gestapo. Paul Scofield co-stars as Otto Frank, while his daughter Anne is played by newcomer Lisa Jacobs. Like George Stevens' 1959 filmization of Diary of Anne Frank, this film was made on location. Unlike Stevens' film, The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank is based not on Anne's diary but on Miep Gies' memoirs, Anne Frank Remembered. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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