When Hubert Lee decides to open the world's largest drive-in movie theater across the street from a funeral parlor, a feud erupts between Lee and Turner Knight, the owner of the funeral ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Turner Knight
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Edna Lee
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Hubert T. Lee
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Alice King
Erin Broderick ...
Grace Knight
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Louise Janine Lee
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Pete Moss
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Abraham Jacob Lee
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Gary
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Polly
Kurt Smildsin ...
Fireworks Driver
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West's Son
Elizabeth Dimon ...
Nun
Peggy Sheffield ...
Mother Superior
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Officer Randy Kraft
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Storyline

When Hubert Lee decides to open the world's largest drive-in movie theater across the street from a funeral parlor, a feud erupts between Lee and Turner Knight, the owner of the funeral home. As Lee's many promotional ideas become more and more outrageous, he continues to enrage Knight until one of the promotions backfires with grave consequences. Written by <jan.lipsansky@volny.cz>

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For the Lee family, life isn't like the movies. It's much, much bigger.

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Drama

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4 February 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Flamingo Rising (#50.3)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Features Night of the Living Dead (1968) See more »

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Like Watching a Rough Cut of An Unfinished Film
23 February 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Poor Larry Baker, after viewing "The Flamingo Rising" it is easy to see why he was so disappointed with this screenplay adaptation of his novel. Rather than an effective and efficient visual condensation of book, the film is more like what would result if a film company ran out of money in mid-production (with a third of the scheduled scenes still to be shot) and just assembled the available stuff into a plausible sequence. Unfortunately, the missing third contained many scenes that explain what is happening.

This film might only be intelligible to Baker's readers, who can at least fill in the blanks with what they already know. They might also enjoy comparing and contrasting the film's visuals with how they pictured those things while reading the book.

Non-readers will find it a strange viewing experience. You almost immediately know that it is an adaptation and not just a really disjointed original screenplay. It has a lot of interesting and well-written characters, some deep philosophical thoughts, solid acting, some relatively big names in the cast, and a charming quirkiness. But all of these elements seem incomplete and inadequately connected. By the end both readers and non-readers will be thinking: "wow-somebody sure butchered that adaptation".

Brian Benden plays Hubert Lee, a white American sergeant who returns from the Korean War with two Korean infants. The war changed Hubert and his peacetime goal is to embrace life and to place a barrier between himself and death. This goal becomes especially challenging when he opens a Drive-in Theater (The Flamingo) across the street from a funeral home run by widower William Hurt.

Their relationship is a symbolic conflict between life and death with Lee's wife Edna (Elizabeth McGovern) literally and figuratively bridging the chasm between the two men.

The story is narrated by Hubert's adopted son Abraham Isaac (Abe) and falls into the coming-of-age genre. The film seems to be set in the summer of 1968 as the drive-in screen (the world's largest even visible to shrimp boats off shore) shows "The Graduate" and "Night of the Living Dead" among others. The family lives inside the structure that supports the screen.

Abe soon falls in love with his neighbor's daughter setting up a Romeo Capulet-Juliet Montague dynamic, referenced once and then forgotten. Which is pretty much the fate of all the meaningful and symbolic elements found in the book, they are either inserted without adequate explanation or omitted entirely. Which means that very little of the book's humor makes it to the screen.

Angela Bettis plays Alice, an employee of the drive-in who was originally intended to be important to Abe's coming of age. But her character has been so haphazardly reduced that she serves little purpose other than providing a chance see this talented actress in one of her early roles.

Screenwriters adapting a novel are faced with the need to trim a vast amount to material to get under a 100 minute running time. Narrative can be condensed, eliminated, or translated to visual images. The trick is not so much whether something is kept or eliminated, but whether what remains provides sufficient coverage of the source material's themes. A novel with the convoluted interplay of "The Flamingo Rising" presents a considerable challenge and unfortunately the screenwriter was simply not up to the task.

Bottom line, "The Flamingo Rising" can be a horrible viewing experience for the unprepared reader, but can be a satisfactory one if forewarned and expectations vastly lowered. While it is not unpleasant viewing for a non-reader, they will have little reason to reflect on the theme and will be left to simply wonder why they bothered to watch.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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