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Promises in the Dark (1979)

PG | | Drama | 3 April 1980 (Australia)
Numbed by career demands and a recent divorce, Dr. Alexandra Kendall (Marsha Mason) hides behind a hard shell of professional detatchment - until she treats Buffy Koenig (Kathleen Beller), ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dr. Alexandra Kendall
...
Bud Koenig
...
Fran Koenig
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Dr. Jim Sandman
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Elizabeth (Buffy) Koenig
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Gerry Hulin
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Dr. Walter McInerny
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Dr. Frucht
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Nurse Farber
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Dr. Blankenship
Arthur Rosenberg ...
Emergency Room Doctor
...
Miss Pritikin
Robert Doran ...
Alan
...
Sue
Alexandra Johnson ...
Ellie

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Storyline

Numbed by career demands and a recent divorce, Dr. Alexandra Kendall (Marsha Mason) hides behind a hard shell of professional detatchment - until she treats Buffy Koenig (Kathleen Beller), a dying 17-year-old cancer patient who reawakens Kendall to life's possibilities. Soon the courageous girl's condition takes a downturn - and the physician must carefully, even agonizingly, weigh the consequences of keeping a promise she made to Buffy. Jerome Hellman, producer of such award-winning movies as Midnight Cowboy, Coming Home and The Mosquito Coast, makes his directorial debut on this frank, finely crafted film casting an unflinching yet compassionate eye on illness. Full of memorable performances, Promises in the Dark moves, challenges - and inspires you to live life more fully.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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cancer | See All (1) »

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A remarkable film about the most disturbing subject of all.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

3 April 1980 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Obietnica ciemnosci  »

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Dr. Alexandra Kendall: You are asking for yes and no answers to essay type questions
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Soundtracks

(WHAT A) WONDERFUL WORLD
Written by Bob Thiele (uncredited) and George David Weiss (uncredited)
Performed by Art Garfunkel, James Taylor & Paul Simon
Courtesy of Columbia Records
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User Reviews

Melodramatic, but Effective
25 October 2006 | by (Fly-Over Country) – See all my reviews

If you saw The Betsy (or read my review), you'll know why I was interested in seeing Promises in the Dark, way back in 1980 on HBO. Yet it wasn't Kathleen Beller's natural attributes that made this modestly soapy melodrama so effective. It was the fact that the story genuinely tries to address the issues of death and dying.

Beller is an active and normal teen who snaps her leg in some sort of trip or collision in PE at high school. The severity of the injury in relation to the activity sparks the interest of the medicos, and it's discovered she has an aggressive cancer.

Therein lies the heart of the story: The destruction of a young girl by cancer and the terrible strain her illness puts on those around her. We want Beller to survive, but I remember the movie telegraphing the end from the beginning; this kid's going to die and the movie is about how she-and we-will handle it.

There are lots of strong character actors in PITD. Marsha Mason leads the cast as Beller's Oncologist, Ned Beatty and Susan Clark are her parents, and Michael Brandon is an MD who is a balance to Mason. Yet, it's Beller's show. I don't remember her milking the pathetic angle in what could have been a "Disease of the Week" TV-movie on the big screen.

Promises in the Dark didn't make much of a stir at the box office, probably because, although well-acted, serious, and heartfelt, it had a kid slowly being smashed to pulp by cancer--a downer no matter what positive things can be said about it. But, it still stands as a legitimate and innovative counter to trash like Love Story (where anyone with two brain cells to rub together was cheering when Ali McGraw assumed room temperature).

If you can find a copy, buy it. And while you're at it, pick up the astonishingly, laughably awful The Betsy to see Beller looking much, much healthier!


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