Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Stefanie Powers
AT MOTHER'S REQUEST (1987 two-part telefilm). Director: Michael Tuchner.

Frances Shreuder (Stefanie Powers) basically tells her son Marc (Doug McKeon) not to bother coming home unless he goes ahead and murders his grandfather (E. G. Marshall). According to Marc's story, he didn't really want to do it, but it's debatable if that's true or not. Frances' mother Berenice (Frances Sternhagen) is appalled at how Marc accuses his mother during her trial, making one wonder if she really doesn't know her daughter was involved or just doesn't care. This is the second telefilm to deal with the real-life murder case that takes place in Utah and New York, and it is inferior to Nutcracker: Money, Murder and Madness. Powers [McLintock!] isn't bad in the role, but for the most part she fails to deliver the showier, dramatic and much more visceral portrayal of Lee Remick. McKeon is also not bad, but somehow a cut below Tate Donovan in the competing film, and Sternhagen [The Mist], while generally a fine actress, is no match for Elizabeth Wilson in the same role. Corey Parker is pretty good as Marc's brother, Larry, who goes off the deep end. With only three hours to work with instead of four and a half, At Mother's Request isn't quite as detailed as Nutcracker, with us not learning much about some characters, such as Frances' father and her two sisters, but the script is still mediocre. This version is not as slick and compelling. The people in this version seem even worse, if that's possible, than the ones in Nutcracker.

Verdict: Major Family Dysfunction -- but stick with Nutcracker and Remick. **1/2.

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