...and from between 1974 until about 1988 or so, no one was better at
getting to the truth of teaching us that then Art Carney. Following his
Oscar-Winning performance in Harry and Tonto, Carney had about a dozen
opportunities to deliver nuanced performances across a number of films
and a variety of genres on both the big screen and TV. Many of these
characters mixed the wisdom gained through the years with the chagrin
of being pushed aside because of those same years. This included fine
performances in The Late Show, Going In Style, W. W. and the Dixie
Dance Kings, and this made-for-TV movie, Letters From Frank. Of these,
Letters From Frank about a 65-year-old Editor being put out to pasture,
probably showcased his ability to express his anger through vitriolic
anger the most; in the others mentioned, he limited himself to one
vitriolic episode per movie and other engaged mostly in sardonic
whimsy. This distinction alone would be enough reason to give a quick
look at Letters From Frank, but despite a confusing and mostly one-note
first third, there are many jewels on display here.
Maureen Stapleton is a joy to watch as Frank's feisty wife, Betty, who
helps him finally getting over getting mad and to focus on getting
himself better before taking on the issue of exacting a small measure
of justice. Lew Ayres and Margaret Hamiltion get to show that they
haven't lost their sense of timing and a young Michael J. Fox makes a
nice contribution. In the midst of the final payoff, the two unknowns
who play the movers almost steal the movie altogether. Mike Farrell and
Jenny O'Hara are appropriate as Frank's son Richard, the recipient
of the letters, and his supportive wife.
By 2/3rds through, you'll know how it all ends up. It doesn't matter
because as Frank is reminded, it's not the destination that matters,
but the quality of the journey.
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