"A Gift of Love" (was: Sybil)

Gregory Callahan (gregory_callahan@hotmail.com)
Mon, 2 Dec 2002 20:56:41 -0800 (PST)

This reminds me of a much earlier thread in which someone brought up the tv film "A Gift of Love: A Christmas Story" with Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury.  Being the world's biggest Remick fan, I chimed in on that one (although I usually just lurk here).   Anyway, by sheer coincidence I received an email recently from someone who gleaned I was a fan from some of my postings on Amazon.com (hey, I'm reviewer number 657, I'll have you know!  ).   This woman was trying io ID and obtain a copy of "Gift."

I was able to help her identify the film and to turn her on to imdb.com as a useful way of searching for titles, screen credits and what have you.  But of course, I knew that this  1983 film was NOT obtainable commercially (and, I was pretty sure, never had been).  I checked the imdb.com entry and noticed that there were several inquiries from customer reviewers who were desperate to get a hold of this tv movie.

I was pretty surprised at first,  but thinking it over, I could see  how the movie could become a sentimental family favorite a la IT'S A WONDERFU|L LIFE.   A few people recalled watching it with relatives no longer alive and treasuring the film's "message" that the departed remain with us in "a secret place."  Some like me were New Englanders who loved the film's Vermont setting (or more accurately the setting of the main character's dream vision). Well, I know that this is corny and all, but it's getting to be the season and , hey, we're all entitled to our sentimental favorites.

Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is that there probably is a market for this film and probably several others like it.  I recall that during the first big video rush,  there was a lot of (surprising) tv product made available.  It was as though the companies were throwing everything out there, trying to see what would stick.  In the case of Lee Remick, who was pretty much duking it out with Liz Montgomery the title of queen bee of TV movies back in the 80s, such titles as HUSTLING and JESSE were released commercially--although it's hard to see that these dramas would have had a greater appeal than a heartwarming Christmas story. 

But nowadays,  I doubt that any of these tv films would be made commercially available.  It seems that the market has changed.  I notice that a few splashier efforts like the recent Judy Garland film bio ME AND MY SHADOWS saw the light of day.   And of course, a good deal of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series eventually was released.  But whereas before things  seemed hit or miss, nowadays, TV product is pretty much miss.  Which is kind of a shame,  seeing as even the worst theatrical movies (even the biggest commercial and critical duds) see VHS release (is that pattern changing with DVD, I wonder?).

Was there an actual decision on the industry's part to de-emphasize network TV films (sometime in the early 90s, the trend seems to emerge)?   Inquiring minds want to know.


PS--forgive the rambling.

>From: "Carol Dunn"
>Reply-To: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>To: Multiple recipients of list
>Subject: RE: Sybil
>Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 17:04:22 -0800 (PST)
>Is that true? I always wondered why that horrid little TV movie wasn't
>on video. I rank it with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre...........
>-----Original Message-----
>From: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>[mailto:videolib@library.berkeley.edu]On Behalf Of June Drotleff
>Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 7:30 PM
>To: Multiple recipients of list
>Subject: Re: Sybil
>As I understand it, there is a legal dispute by one of the performers who is
>trying to prevent its video release. Not sure who but I'm guessing its the
>actress that played the mother.
>June Drotleff
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Tatar, Becky"
>To: "Multiple recipients of list"
>Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 6:24 PM
>Subject: Sybil
> > We constantly receive requests from our patrons about this tv movie, with
> > Sally Field. It is out of print and very few libraries in our area carry
> > this title. Does anyone know if whoever owns this ever plans to put it in
> > distribution again? When I explain the above situation to the patrons
> > always ask why. My feeling is it goes with the questions of the
>universe -
> > where do socks go in the dryer, etc. But that's not something I can tell
> > every patron!
> >
> > Becky Tatar
> > Unit Head, Periodicals, Audiovisual
> > Aurora Public Library
> > 1 E. Benton Street
> > Aurora, IL 60505
> > PHONE: 630-264-4100
> > FAX: 630-896-3209
> > www.aurora.lib.il.us
> > E-mail: bltata@aurora.lib.il.us
> >
> >