A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
Los Angeles, 1928. A single mother returns from work to find her nine-year-old son gone. She calls the LAPD to initiate a search. Five months later, a boy is found in Illinois who fits the description; he says he's her son. To fanfare and photos, the LAPD reunite mother and son, but she insists he's not her boy. The cops dismiss her as either a liar or hysterical. When she joins a minister in his public criticism of the police, they in turn use government power to silence and intimidate her. Meanwhile, a cop goes to a dilapidated ranch to find a Canadian lad who's without legal status; the youth tells a grisly tale. There's redress for murder; is there redress for abuse of power? Written by
J. Michael Straczynski first learned of the story of Christine Collins from an unnamed source at Los Angeles City Hall. The source had stumbled across case files regarding the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders among other discarded documents scheduled for destruction. Straczynski took the files himself and became obsessed with the case, doing extensive research over the course of a year. He tried to make it into a TV project, but never found a solid way to do that. Virtually every event depicted in the film appears as cited in legal documents, with dialog often taken verbatim from court transcripts. Straczynski wrote his first draft of the screenplay in only eleven days. See more »
This movie set in 1928, the phrase "Excuse my French" as used by Carol Dexter wasn't in common use until 10 years later as explained here. See more »
Watching this film is like taking a look back in time. Everything is picture perfect, the beautiful automobiles, the red electric street cars, the telephones, the switchboard station with roller-skating supervisors, the house appliances, and the outstanding clothing, from dresses to hats to police uniforms, everything is meticulously detailed. The story, which we are told is true, is complex and multifaceted. Angelina Jolie, who plays Christine Collins, gives an outstanding performance as a single mother who returns home from work to find that her son is missing. This puts into motion a series of events that exposes the reality of what Los Angeles society was really like in the late 1920's. Corrupt Police, uncaring and self absorbed mental health professionals and the basic premise that people left to their own ambitions will do anything to secure their own prosperity. Although this paints a bleak picture of the human condition, the film show that the actions of a few good men can make a world of difference, John Malkovich as Reverend Gustav Briegleb, is determined to expose the corrupt Police in his radio talk show, Michael Kelly as detective Lester Ybarra, although hampered by his superiors, uncovers what really happened to the boy and the unlikely hero, a powerful attorney who takes her case pro-bono comes to her rescue. If indeed this is a true story, then to see these people stand up to the powers that be is a ray of hope to all of us that there were people who were strong and principled. We can only hope that there are still people like that out there today.
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