80 Steps to Jonah (1969) Poster

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I remember this from grade school
Chrissie5 July 2002
About twice a year they'd pack us into the gym on folding chairs and show us a movie. The only one that stuck in my mind was "80 Steps to Jonah." Every kid loved it, and universally declared it to be the best movie we'd ever seen.

Was it really that good? Who knows? I've not seen it since then. But if you're looking for something to watch with kids in the middle-school age range, this one's a good bet.
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Crash Landing for Wayne Newton
wes-connors16 August 2013
In Nevada, chubby singer Wayne Newton (as Mark Jonah Winters) is arrested for manslaughter, following a car accident. Considering the opening crash, Mr. Newton is amazingly agile. He escapes from the police and takes refuge at a home for blind children, obtaining the place of an anticipated handyman (who never appears). Blind camp counselor and budding sculptress Diana Ewing (as Tracy) is attracted to Newton and sculpts his bust. The young blind children become attached to Newton. They plant a garden, sing songs and trot together. There is also a dog, who is put under a doghouse when the cameras are turned away...

Meanwhile, investigators search the area...

Presently known for his Las Vegas appearances, Newton has been a successful entertainer for 50 years. Considering this film, you'd be hard-pressed to explain his long-lasting appeal. A TV and recording star prompted to "youth" but always more popular with their parents, Newton is most unconvincing. Possibly, this would have looked better on television...

Apparently, the effort was to fashion Newton as a feature film star. Otherwise, it's difficult to explain why Gerd Oswald and the filmmakers didn't simply offer Sal Mineo the leading role. Billed as a "special guest star," Mr. Mineo drives the 1969 Charger in the opening. Mineo's main scene is later, in a flashback. As usual, he's excellent. The other "special guest star" is Mickey Rooney. Also appearing later (in one scene, with Mineo), Mr. Rooney can overplay at times and does so here as a wildly drunk driver...

The kids are alright. The stand-out role is given to Erin Moran (as Kim), who makes an memorable impression. Previously a regular on the adventure series "Daktari!", she will go on to greater TV glory on the nostalgic "Happy Days" series. There isn't much for the other children to do, although young veteran Butch Patrick (as Brian) has a good scene pretending to be blind; he's the kids' sighted helper. Newton is given an accomplished supporting cast, with Jo Van Fleet (as Nonna) getting the most screen time. The cast is probably the best reason to take "80 Steps to Jonah", today.

*** 80 Steps to Jonah (11/17/69) Gerd Oswald ~ Wayne Newton, Diana Ewing, Jo Van Fleet, Erin Moran
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watch the full movie online!
sja194912 April 2009
I uploaded my full recording of 80 Steps To Jonah at google video...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3888172006497514701 Shows up in flash player at that link but if you click the download link you'll get a much clearer mp4 version (330MB)

I put it on my computer from an old VHS tape recording when I saw it years ago on TV. Then I converted it to wmv and mp4 formats for viewing.

Also have some musical scene clips from the movie up at you tube. Includes the scenes where Wayne Newton & kids sing With A Little Seed And Some Love. Also Wayne Newton playing guitar and singing If I Could Be To You What You Are To Me. And scene where Wayne's music is 'Night Rushes In'
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A Touching Story
Cal-1610 September 1999
I feel that there was excellent casting in this picture. Wayne Newton handled the lead quite well - he played it with heart, but resisted the temptation to make it overly sentimental. Not afraid of being upstaged by animals or children, he worked well with them to tell us a beautiful story. Brought to the foreground was how independent people with disabilities can really be. The music, too, was a definite plus!
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I love this movie!
lanie196730 November 2006
I saw this on Cable years and years ago, and I think of it so often. It's like losing a good friend by moving away. I hate that I can't play it any time I want. I think I will write to the cable companies and find out how to request that it play. Every other movie plays over and over. This one should too. I take offense to the writer who said this was a bad Elvis-type movie. Wayne Newton was young then, and probably hadn't even been compared to Elvis at that time. This is a cute little family movie that makes you feel like there may be a little good in the world after all. Nowadays, you don't get too much of that. I sure hope I am able to get a copy of this movie. I would love to sit and watch it with my Grandson. Thank you for your time.
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totally hooked... right from the opening credits.... what a voice!
selena bedford9 January 2006
As a kid, there are certain movies that stick with you.. usually ones that are either of "that time" or very old classics your parents show you. I grew up watching a lot of tele-movies (whoops), but one of the very few that stuck with forever was "80 steps to Jonah". I can't get this bloody film out of my head (and drive my partner mad because I continuously talk about it)! I already knew of and loved Wayne Newton (I was about 8 at the time) and his bizarro womanly-vibrato tone, but when I saw this movie, I loved every second - Erin Moran (Joni from Happy Days), Micky Rooney (.... everything), Jo Van Fleet (East of Eden), Sal Mineo (Rebel without a Cause), Keenan Wynn (... everything), etc.. It's definitely a flick that you see as a Sunday matinée - probably by yourself - but sit, enjoy, take it all in.... it's brilliant! There are no Academy or Global Awards to be given, but once you've seen this, you can't do anything to stop yourself from loving it and then wanting to see it again.... to have it on tap when you feel the need :) Like it or not - choose to admit it or not - this film ROCKS!! Wayne Newton (in his Hey-Day) could deliver a tune with so much soul - this film is so cute it's like an endless supply of yummy chocolate fondue. For those who agree.. you ROCK toooo! I've never met anyone who has ever seen or heard of it. Also, if anyone knows where I could get a copy and could pass the info on, I would be forever appreciative :) Have a great 2006! Selena
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This movie really touched my heart
aprilspears7920 October 2004
I haven't seen this movie in years but have always held onto the great feelings it gave me watching it. It's a wonderful, heartwarming film that I have told many people about over the years. My sister and I were talking about it just the other day too. I wasn't sure if she remembered it and when we started talking about it, it occurred to me that I could try and find it on line. I have wondered often how I could find it to purchase as well, if anyone knows, please let me know. thank you if you haven't seen this movie....do! and enjoy!
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A wonderful story
rehalvor10 December 2001
I saw this movie in the early 70s and have never forgotten it. It's a touching story with both serious and funny characters. Wayne Newton is great in his role as Mark Jonah Winters. The music throughout adds a lot to the story. The movie is entertaining and also teaches lessons in loyalty and justice. I highly recommend this movie!
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A heart-warming story for all ages
floralbatik1 July 2005
Whether you're a Wayne Newton fan or not this movie is one to see and remember. I saw it as a child and for years have been trying to obtain a copy of this charming movie. The story-line might be a bit "plain" by today's standards, as there is no blood, guts or violence in it. The characters, which are mainly children, are unforgettable. Some of the child actors in this movie are now adults, and are names we know today. Although there is a song or two in the movie, it is not a musical. I frequently find myself humming these tunes. If you're looking for a good, old fashioned, feel-good movie.... this is it! Great for families and younger children.
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A real miscalculation
Wizard-85 October 2013
Singer Elvis Presley made some real bad movies during the period of his life when he was appearing in movies, but those bad movies come across as great when compared to "80 Steps to Jonah", a failed attempt to make singer Wayne Newton a movie star. In fact, this movie often comes across as if it were a (bad) parody of a Presley movie. Though Newton did manage to show some acting chops years later with various small parts in movies, in his big screen debut he comes across as extremely underwhelming, with no flair or color to his performance. However, he isn't really to blame for the movie's failure. The script is pretty awful, extremely padded out and is filled with various clichés and plot turns you have seen many times before in other movies and television shows. And the songs are so sugary sweet that you'll be washing out your mouth with a strong drink. It's no wonder that its distributor, Warner Brothers, has pretty much buried this movie.
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This Marine was impressed
Chief-111 January 2003
I recently ran across a letter that I sent to my mom on 11MAY70 from Da Nang, Viet Nam. 80 Steps must of made some kind of impression for this young Marine to write home about altho 32 years later I have no recall about the movie. I wrote "that it was a real family type film and a tear jerker, but a lot of guys really liked it" so now I need to go find a copy on video and see what impressed me so.
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So, it wasn't my imagination...
rhinokev19 May 2002
This movie really DID exist. For the longest time, I thought this movie was synthesized from my collective unconscious. I remember seeing this movie on some impossibly late program about 25 years ago and being genuinely moved by it. Unashamedly sentimental, yet not too saccharine treatment of a man on the lam who finds refuge at a summer camp for blind children. A surprisingly well-casted movie with a decent soundtrack that would definitely appeal to the "Grab-a-hanky" set. Not a movie I would go out of my way to see - except for the purpose of reminiscing about the first (and only) time I saw it - but, I would definitely watch it if it appeared on my television while channel-surfing.
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athena_schutte23 August 2004
I watched this movie when I was about 12 years old. I was spending the night with my Grandmother in the late 70's and we happened to be up late talking. This movie came on the late night movie and it has stuck in my memory. My Grandmother and I both loved this movie and we went through many tissues. My Grandmother passed away about 8 year ago and one of my many fondest memories with her was the night we watched this movie together. I would love to see this movie again. I have only saw it once and it made a great impact on me. Any recomendations to where I may be able to rent it would be greatly appreciated. I would definitely rate this a must see movie. (They don't make em' like this anymore.)
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Why does no one carry this masterpiece?
clcain9 June 2002
I watched this movie when I was so young that I can hardly remember what it is called. I went to my local video stores and they all had books and said that if it was not in their books it was not a movie. All the books you could look up the actors name. It said nothing about this movie when I looked under Wayne Newton. I just have to say I think a lot of people are missing out by not seeing this movie. I was very compelled when I saw it as a young boy and now hope to be compelled again. I just want to thank the people at IMDB.com for being so extensive in their movie selection.
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Wondering if this will ever be released
cherm5005 October 2009
I, too, saw this when I was quite young and wish it would be released. I thought the movie was quite well done. I have been looking for this movie for some time. I kept hoping it would at least be run again on TV where I might enjoy seeing it again, but I would love to own it on DVD.

It featured a very young Jo Ann Fleet as a blind woman teaching a host of engaging children who are learning to exist in a world of blindness. Jonah finds a niche for himself, assisting the children in locating various landmarks by running rope guidelines around the property. Some good music is included and it's a treat to listen to Wayne's voice.

I, for one, would purchase this if it were available.

Thanks IMDb for actually acknowledging its existence! This was the only place I could even find reference to it.
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Wayne's Finest Hour (Not)!
shepardjessica22 August 2004
This could be one of the Worst 10 of ALL time! No offense to the folks involved, although they are all to be blamed. I think Mr. Newton tried to make a bad Elvis film (where he pretended to be serious) and it's a complete mess of good intentions, fake emotions, bad acting and hilarious (not even TV) comments on society 35 years ago.

Wayne Newton who has a stage presence (even if you can't stand him) has absolutely NO screen presence and the plot is too unbelievable even for an after school kid special. The cryptic narcissism of Newton's character is false bravado from his opening scene. His bombastic child-like passion for what passes (or tries to) for human empathy is pretty disgusting. A 1 out of 10 and I am not even trying to be cruel.
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memorable movie
tturnbull23 September 2002
I saw this movie back in the seventies in a double feature,the other being "Grizzly".Of all the movies I have watched,this movie stuck in my memory because of the emotinal scenes and the natural flow of love,hate,frustration and caring that the characters show.It didn't hurt that I liked Wayne Newton either!;-)
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