Movies on TV

Editor’s note:  If you’re looking for wholesome fare on television, here are some suggestions for this week.  For more reviews of family friendly film, television and DVDs, go to http://www.moviepicks.org/

Fallen Angel (CAMIE winner) 5 pm EST Dec 15 on Hallmark Channel

Here is another winner from Hallmark Hall of Fame. Just right for the holiday season, or for any season, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s thought-provoking, uplifting story, Fallen Angel, is enhanced by the acting of Gary Sinise, Joely Richardson, and an excellent supporting cast. Sinise’s voiceover first describes his childhood, emphasizing his desire for a closer relationship with his workaholic father, then a Christmas-time car accident in which Sinise’s character, Terry Quinn, sees a family torn apart as a result of another father’s guilt.

Twenty-five years later, Terry returns to his hometown in Maine (beautiful enough that you may wish you lived there). His father has died, and he must face the truth about the anger he has felt toward his father and aspects of his father’s character that he hadn’t noticed when he was a young man. He also learns more about the Wentworth family, whose father, Charles, was driving and lost his own family after the car wreck. The turning point occurs when Terry learns that Katherine Wentworth, the daughter of the family on that long-ago Christmas Eve, is coming back to the family seaside “cottage” for the first time. Terry’s father had been the caretaker, and the place needs to be opened up and readied for Christmas. Terry, a successful lawyer in Los Angeles, decides to stay and ready the house in his father’s place. He meets Katherine and her daughter, Olivia, and decides to stay a few days longer. Nothing mars the decency of the story that takes a number of interesting twists. It’s fun to watch Jordy Benatar realistically play the difficult part of Olivia, who is a cute, bright little girl. Jordy, who already has a number of screen credits, is a prize.

Although the possibility of romance is a fine aspect of the story, greater themes emerge: whether we can protect someone by hiding the truth, our obligations to help those in need, what we see and what we choose not to see, and how we choose priorities in our lives. Fallen Angel is a fine treatment of how these themes can build or destroy a family. Some of the snippets from real life that Don Snyder has used in this story add to its strength. One of these from years ago took place on a bitter cold night in Maine, when he a saw a homeless man in a parking lot warm his hands by placing them on the hood of a car while the engine was still warm. Don was haunted by the image of this man and other homelessmen–fallen angels– wondering what had caused the big fall in each life. Cringing when asked if there was a message in this story, Don answered that his story tells us that “none of us is beyond redemption” and that “good things happen to good people.” We congratulate Hallmark Hall of Fame for bringing us a great motion picture.

*

The Sound of Music (CAMIE classic) Dec 17, primetime on ABC, check local time

A classic musical comedy, romance, and suspense movie for the entire family. This is the inspiring, true, and fun story of the von Trapp family, whose seven children are notorious for encouraging governesses to leave. That is, until they meet Maria, a postulant from a nearby convent in their home city of Salzburg. Maria was a bit strong-willed for the Mother Superior, and is sent to the Von Trapps in order to find God’s will for her. As persistent and determined as Captain von Trapp and the seven children, she quickly wins their hearts. When she realizes that they have won her heart, as well, Maria must decide whether she would best serve God as a nun or as a wife and mother.

Family concerns are soon influenced by concerns for Austria and its people after the Anschluss–the occupation (welcome to many Austrians) of the country by Nazi troops. Captain von Trapp, a patriotic Austrian who disagrees with the policies of the Third Reich, is ordered to report to a post with the German navy. The family’s response to his orders creates a suspenseful and realistic change to the previous fairytale lives of the von Trapp family.

The musical highlight of this movie is Maria’s lovely soprano voice, although every character who sings is excellent. Songs like “My Favorite Things,” “The Sound of Music,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and “Edelweiss” have become beloved standards. The cinematography, especially the opening aerial shots approaching the Alps of Salzburg, beautifully emphasized by music, until the viewer flies down to the mountain where Maria opens her arms to the beauty of the world and sings “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” are breathtaking. The lovely convent and cathedral of Salzburg and the von Trapp family home are also beautifully presented. Many people have seen this movie hundreds of times. It may be at its best on a large theater screen, but it is a must-see at home, as well.


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