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Scattered Dreams (1993)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  19 December 1993 (USA)
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It is about a loving couple which trying to make a living in 1951 Florida. When they are arrested, for a crime they didn't commit. The pair are given long jail terms and ripped from their ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathryn Messenger
George Messenger
Sheriff Ashford
Ramsay Midwood ...
Phyllis Messenger
Elizabeth Grillo Barbeau
Bob Hannah ...
(as Robert Hannah)
Blair Struble ...
June Messenger
Lindsay Broockman ...
Annette Messenger
(as Frank Taylor)
Deacon Dawson ...
Mr. Cooper
Rebecca Koon ...
Prisoner - State Prison


It is about a loving couple which trying to make a living in 1951 Florida. When they are arrested, for a crime they didn't commit. The pair are given long jail terms and ripped from their children, so they begin a stunning fight for justice that has them facing the ruthless sheriff responsible for their incarceration.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

19 December 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Scattered Dreams: The Kathryn Messenger Story  »

Box Office


$3,700,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Katherine and George Messenger are taken to prison there is razor wire on the fences. According to Wikipedia it is only from the early 1970s that unreinforced barbed tape was commonly used in perimeter barriers of US prisons. This movie was based in the 1950's well before the introduction of this form of security barrier. See more »

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User Reviews

PC all the way
15 October 1999 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is what might be called a poor white trash nightmare, circa 1951. Illiterate Florida tenant farmers are thrown in jail for not paying a mostly bogus debt. Never mind that debtor's prison was one of the things this country did away with, and that poverty is no crime. This is based on a true story, which allows us to imagine how things REALLY were. The three youngest of the five Messenger children are made wards of the state. The Florida cops, prison guards and social welfare people are mostly stereotypical degenerate sadists usually found in black oppression films set in places like ante bellum Mississippi or mid-twentieth century South Africa. One of the points being made here is that prejudice in the south against poor whites was sometimes as bad as prejudice against blacks.

The thing wrong with this movie and so many like it is that the unrelenting oppression of the central characters by the state is predictable, and their struggle against that oppression is admirable and heroic. The truth is not so simple. To give director Neema Barnette credit we can see that Kathryn Messenger, played with palpable, almost painful veracity by the wide-eyed Tyne Daly, was clumsy and crude and did stupid things (like trying to bribe a welfare clerk). Her husband, sadly impersonated by Gerald McRaney, groveled a lot. There is not a hint of alcohol or drug abuse by the poor Messengers; their only faults appear to be ignorance and poverty. Perhaps it was so.

Alicia Silverstone has a minor part as the 15-year-old daughter in a paper thin house dress like a ripe tart from a Faulkner novel or a Tennessee Williams play, but manages to keep covered up. There's a hint of inbreeding with all that white flesh being flashed about, and the constant suggestion of impending rape and/or sexual abuse, but it's mostly a tease to keep the audience from falling asleep.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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