EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to Mill Creek Month! As you know, we love our Mill Creek box sets, so we’re doing an entire month of these films. The first set we got into was their B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack, then their Gorehouse Greats 12-Pack. And as with those sets — as is par for the course with these bricks of films, with their mashups of movie mayhem — their Excellent Eighties 50-Movie set is no different, with its crazy mix of drive-in ditties and lost network TV movies across all genres. So, to start our unpacking of this set . . . here’s our first review!
Oh, boy, Sam . . . when this was first assigned to me as “Second Sight” — without romantic the suffix — I thought I’d have to fly off the top ropes of the Civic Arena and whoop-ass Shirley Doe (my boss’s wrestling altar ego) for stickin’ it to me with that friggin’ John Larroquette monstrosity from 1989, you know, from back in the day when Bronson Pinchot was a “thing,” poised as the next Robin Williams . . . Bess Armstrong’s heart-weeping cuteness (Jaws 3-D) in the film, be damned. . . .
As it turns out, this debut entry on this Mill Creek set is an ’80s CBS-TV movie based on the best-selling romance novel Emma and I by Sheila Hocken. The “Emma” in this case, is a dog.
What? Why are you snickering? What gives with the eye rolls?
I’m not a totally heartless B-Movie slob. I can be romantic! Just not Hallmark Channel-romantic . . . only old “Big Three Network” romantic. And I’ll take a romantic dog-chick flick over a psychic-infused Balki Bartokomous flick any day of the week — and twice on Sundays.
TV movie powerhouse Elizabeth Montgomery shines (as always) as Alexandra McKay, a woman who has been blind for nearly 20 years. Fearful that people will take advantage of her condition, she’s staunchly independent, living a sheltered, private life — a world where she only trusts her best friend: her always dependable guide dog, Emma. She allows love to enter her life when she meets Richard Chapman, an art dealer. And it’s great to see Barry Newman — of Vanishing Point fame — as said art dealer, allowed to stretch his thespian wings in a dramatic-cum-romantic role.
Now, we know . . . ugh, romance . . . chick flicks . . . argh! So, we’ll play the John Korty card to get you to watch.
John’s career dates back to directing numerous episodes of PBS-TV’s Sesame Street, while his theatrical and TV movie efforts date to the early ’60s. If you grew up in the ’70s, you know John put his previous skills as a documentarian to good use in the TV rating juggernaut Who Are the DeBolts? and Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? that was hosted by Henry “The Fonz” Winkler (The Lords of Flatbush). Korty also wrote and directed Oliver’s Story (1978), the not-as-successful-and-critically-lambasted sequel to the early ’70s standard for maudlin-romance flicks: Love Story (1970). Another one of Korty’s biggies was the civil rights-drama The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974).
But wait, hey you! Star Wars fan: John Korty directed the Lucasian knockoff, The Ewok Adventure (1984).
All in all, this is great stuff. This is why we have Mill Creek sets: to preserve well-made, forgotten films . . . and not just Crown International, B-Movie schlock. Bravo, Mill Creek!