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1 item from 1996

Film review: 'Summer of Ben Tyler'

12 December 1996 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

In a small Deep South town in 1942, "The Summer of Ben Tyler" was a tough summer -- even if liberating.

Another of those involving Hallmark Hall of Fame tales on CBS, "Tyler" covers two anguishing problems, at least for this town at that time.

One is the adoption of a newly orphaned black boy, Ben (Charles Mattocks), by the loving and white Rayburns (James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern). The other is the domination of the town in general, and lawyer Temple Rayburn specifically, by slyly munificent Spencer Maitland (Len Cariou), owner of town employer Maitland Mills.

The town, at least the gossipy old marms, fuss over Ben's presence in the Rayburn home; Maitland, desiring to extend his power base, urges Rayburn to run for the state Senate and pays the bills. But then Maitland's drunken son kills a black woman in a rainy hit-and-run and looks to get away with it, enveloping Rayburn in moral dilemmas.

It's a warm, wise script by Alabama native Robert Inman, and director Arthur Allan Seidelman has a solid cast, including the can-do-everything Woods as the laid-back lawyer and Cariou as the deceptive town tyrant. Two newcomers deserve special mention: Julia McIlvaine as the Rayburns' spunky daughter and Mattocks as the mildly retarded Ben, who is "a fine fellow" and wise well beyond his supposed capabilities.



Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods.

Executive producers Richard Welsh,

Ronnie D. Clemmer, Bill Pace, Richard P. Kughn, Sharon Cicero

Co-executive producer Brent Shields

Producer Dan Witt

Co-producer Jeffrey R. Coates

Line producer Timothy M. Bourne

Director Arthur Allan Seidelman

Writer Robert Inman

Director of photography Neil Roach

Production design Jan Scott

Costume design Helen Butler

Casting director Lynn Kressel

Editor Toni Morgon

Music Van Dyke Parks

Cast: James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Len Cariou, Charles Mattocks, Julia McIlvaine, Kevin Isola, Clifton James, Anita Gillette, Gregory Perrelli, Jack Gilpin, Novella Nelson, Millie Perkins, Ronn Carroll, Ed Grady, Phil Loch, Richard Olsen

Airdate: Sunday, Dec. 15, 9-11 p.m.


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1 item from 1996

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