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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Julie Harris lifts this low-budget film to a higher level

Author: oldprof from Carlisle PA
8 April 2001

"The First of May" refers to a greenhorn in the circus business, and that's what young Cory (affectingly played by Dan Byrd) is, when he runs away from his current foster home & joins forces with Carlotta, a lonely, assertive woman condemned for some reason(she has no obvious physical or mental defect) to a restrictive Florida nursing home. Carlotta is no greenhorn, however; she has had years of experience in a circus & even encounters two old friends when she & Cory join Clyde Beatty's troop. The circus scenes alone, w/ their brilliant colors & daredevil activity, would be enough to attract young viewers, but the film is also based on the child-catching premise that a young person of pluck & ingenuity can rescue himself from a constrictive situation. I, for one, was sorry to see Cory return at the end to the kindly but clueless couple from whom he ran away. (In one episode they put him to bed without supper, without asking for any explanation of his behavior.) The lack of family dialogue, however, is more than made up for in his relationship with Carlotta, wonderfully played (complete with foreign accent--Austrian? Hungarian?) by the inimitable Julie Harris, who handles every scene, including dancing with an elephant, with dignified capability. Harris, Mickey Rooney, and several other actors (including Joe DiMaggio in a cameo) agreed to act in this film because it sends the message, "Adopt an unwanted child." But the more important message is, that with the concern & understanding of a few perceptive adults, a child can acquire the self-assurance he needs to succeed in an often irrational, unfriendly world.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great family film

Author: axraupp from Minnesota
20 January 2002

The story was well written, the acting was well done, the cinematography was well done. Charles Nelson Reily was great as an old clown, and Mickey Rooney was in his usual top form, even at this age.

Heck, I'm not one for family films, but this one was pretty good. My wife caught it on the Hallmark channel, and we just ended up watching it.

Sure, it has a happy's supposed to. Anything else would have been a disappointment.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A great story and powerful cast.

Author: Chip-444 from Anchorage, AK
1 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler Alert! The screenplay took the book's story and enhanced it into a great statement of the human condition. A cast away placed into a series of foster families and institutions that are warehouses at best; finally finds a home with Michelle and Dan and for a time seems to be more than the others.

He even finds a friend; an old lady who, as he, is without a family; Carlotta is a retired Circus performer and tells Cory stories of her life with the circus and shares her favorite candy. As the two talk and learn about the other, Cory realizes that Carlotta and he have a great deal in common. Neither of them have a family ... Cory volunteers to be Carlotta's family and she pledges the same ... the two of them build a family.

The Michelle becomes pregnant, Cory overhears Dan and Michelle talk about the pregnancy and how it would affect Cory ... Cory misunderstands and jumps to the wrong conclusion ... decides that he's not wanted; just like the rest and runs away. Carlotta decides to run away with him.

They ultimately find a circus, and the two of them find an extended family (not like the book) and build meaningful relationships with and old friend Dinghy and Zack a performer that takes Cory under his wing. Zack along with the school teacher/high ring dancer bring Cory back together with Dan and Michelle when Carlotta suffers a heart attack and seems to die.

All ends well; with the misunderstanding resolved; Cory goes back to Dan and Michelle and becomes their son and brother to the new baby. Carlotta recovers and becomes moves in with the family ... the two of them finally get what they've wanted all along ... a family.

A great story played by a powerful cast, and a great improvement over the one found in the book; which was good, don't get me wrong. But in the screenplay all the characters become real and positive players in Cory's life. I give the effort a 10; and hope it's released in DVD or at least VHS.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful, heartwarming family film

Author: dapootieman from United States
13 December 2007

I first saw The First of May a few years ago with my family and we all were thoroughly pleased. Julie Harris gives a wonderful performance as the lovable Carlotta and Dan Byrd is fantastic in his first film!

Mickey Rooney may not be the greatest actor in the world (and I hear he smelled like tuna fish on set) but he certainly seemed to deliver in this film.

This film also features the final screen appearance of Joe DiMaggio, a true baseball legend.

The story is fun and touching, the cast is fantastic, and I have a feeling that kid who played the catcher will go on to do great things in the future!

I really hope this film comes to DVD soon! I'll be the first in line to buy it and share it with others!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a heartwarming film

Author: ladyval from New Mexico
17 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw this movie as the opening film at our town's first ever film festival here in NM. This was an independent film made by a gentleman in Florida. I knew that Mickey Rooney and Julie Harris were in it but was surprised by Charles Nelson Reilly. He was fun to see. I thought the movie was well done and had something for everyone. The young man who played Cory was perfect for his part. I thought Julie Harris was wonderful dealing with the problems of the aged. It was also a good film promoting the idea of adoption. It showed how some kids fall through the cracks. Some of the wisdom in this movie will be remembered for a long time. The rest of the cast was good as well as the cinematography. They did an excellent job with the real circus footage versus the film footage. Fun for the whole family!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

There wasn't a dry eye in the house

Author: oldcurmudgeon from Boiling Springs, PA
18 April 2001

I recently had the opportunity to attend a screening followed by a Q&A session conducted by the producer-director and found the film to be wonderful - there wasn't a dry eye in the house - and the Q&A session to be very enlightening. Don't miss this one if you have a chance to see it. Julie Harris gives an Oscar-quality performance as an elderly lady shunted off to an old folks home. Dan Byrd is perfect as the foster child abandoned by his mother. Joe DiMaggio played hurt once again and you wouldn't know it. The director shared with us that The Yankee Clipper, who was forced by the union to accept the princely sum of $248 for his work in this film, cracked two ribs the week before filming his scenes. Although he was in obvious pain between takes, on-screen he was the Joe DiMaggio we all remember. This G-rated film has powerful messages about adoption and should be seen by families. This movie deserves wide release.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Heartfelt Message

Author: Renee Giles
29 November 2011

I will be writing a paper on The First of May. I am a student of Professor Rogers and consider it an honor to experience the insights he has provided in many aspects. The First of May hit home with me and I believe that this movie has a message to deliver to others as well. I believe in the efforts put forth in this movie and the dedication has paid off in sharing family values and encouraging love, support, and understanding towards one another. The First of May contains all the elements of emotion allowing the viewer to the escape with the circus on the roller-coaster of life. It also shares a reality with these ups and downs; however, through life's journey comes hope and belief! This is a movie worthwhile to watch. I am sure it will give appreciation to those you hold dearly.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I had Rogers as a drama teacher!!!

Author: serenity2016 from United States
15 September 2007

I was in Gary Rogers drama class at LSCC and he is an amazing professor. I got to be Little Red Riding Hood in a kiddie musical we put on for school kids. All the songs were really cute and the kids loved them.

We watched the movie in class and I loved it! I haven't had much luck finding it to watch on TV but have seen Dan Byrd in several things since. I haven't seen it in a couple of years hopefully I will catch the movie on TV soon. I really wanted my daughter to watch it I think she would really enjoy it.

The story line is really great and fun very family friendly!!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyed this wonderful film.

Author: ronski-3
2 December 1999

The Fist of May is a great family film. This is a nice story of a foster child meeting an older woman in a nursing home, bonding with her and running away to join the circus with her. The film is well acted. Julie Harris is wonderful. The kid who played "Corey" is a fabulous actor. Even Joe DiMaggio was great.

This film looked great, sounded great, was well acted and well directed.

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A FIRST in family films; flat-out wonderful, touching and timeless

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
4 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

11 year old Cory (Dan Byrd) is a foster child somewhere in the Midwest. Although he doesn't seem like a problem child, he still gets shuffled around often. Not surprisingly, this has given him the ability to daydream into a more perfect world and ignore those around him. Therefore, when he gets placed with a kind, childless couple, Dan and Michelle, he is slow to adapt to his new home. Three things make it easier. On a walk, Cory finds a box turtle and takes him home. To his surprise, Michelle is fine with this, even encouraging the young boy to learn more about turtles and helping build a cage. Then, Dan introduces the boy to baseball while an older man (THE JOE DIMAGGIO) is there to give advice, too. Finally, when Cory is visiting a nursing home with other foster kids, he runs into Carlotta (Julie Harris). This lady is somewhat of a rebel, defying a few rules of the home. She and Cory become friends through late night, secret visits to a park. One day, Cory overhears a conversation between his parents which is not as it seems. Michelle is finally pregnant and Cory gets the idea he is going to be shuffled off to another place. Therefore, when he tells Carlotta he's running away, she joins him. As a former circus performer, Carlotta is up to adventure and, unbelievably, the two stumble onto a visiting troupe and are accepted as concession workers. This results in Cory learning sales techniques and motorcycle tricks, with the lad becoming happier every day. Then, a crisis arrives. Will Carlotta and Cory become separated? Are Dan and Michelle looking for him anyway? This outstanding movie should be a first choice for families looking for nightly entertainment. Young Byrd is very touching while Harris shines brightly as she almost always does. Mickey Rooney, Charles Nelson Reilly, Robin O'Dell and all of the others are great, too. The behind the scenes looks at the circus are likewise enthralling while the animals, especially an elephant named Hannahbelle, are heart-stealers. Most of all, the important messages of love and acceptance, even among those who have been abandoned by others, ring marvelously true and timelessly. The First of May is a nickname for a newby in the circus; THIS First of May is a first choice for all.

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