11 user 1 critic

Promise (1986)

When his mother dies, Bob not only inherits her house, but also the custody of his younger brother, who suffers from schizophrenia and epilepsy. At the age of 21, Bob promised to look after... See full summary »


Glenn Jordan


Richard Friedenberg (teleplay), Ken Blackwell (story) | 1 more credit »
Won 2 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Garner ... Bob Beuhler
James Woods ... D.J.
Piper Laurie ... Annie Gilbert
Peter Michael Goetz ... Stuart
Michael Alldredge ... Gibb
Alan Rosenberg ... Dr. Pressman
Mary Marsh Mary Marsh ... Mrs. Post
Barbara Niven ... Joan (as Barbara Alexander)
Steven M. Gagnon ... Michael
Raissa Fleming Raissa Fleming ... Lonnie
Art Burke Art Burke ... Dr. Wexler
Bob Griggs Bob Griggs ... Minister
Janet Baumhover Janet Baumhover ... Mrs. Green
Charles Bernard Charles Bernard ... Mr. Allison
Claretta Mariana Claretta Mariana ... Beth


When his mother dies, Bob not only inherits her house, but also the custody of his younger brother, who suffers from schizophrenia and epilepsy. At the age of 21, Bob promised to look after his brother. Although he has barely seen him in the many years since then and strives against the commitment, he doesn't dare to put him in a home either. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of family love and loyalty.


Drama | Family







Release Date:

21 December 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: Promise (#36.1) See more »

Filming Locations:

Corvallis, Oregon, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


James Woods' favorite role. See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

The options aren't good
24 May 2016 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

James Garner was very proud of his work in Promise and deservedly so. He was quoted as praising to the skies the work of James Woods in this film, but Garner himself should have gotten more kudos for not playing his usual kind of laid back character.

Promise is both the title of this film and the obligation Garner feels toward his late mother. Woods is his much younger brother and since his teen years has been in a mental institution for schizophrenia. Now mom has passed on and Garner inherits the responsibility for her heavily mortgaged house and his institutionalized brother.

In this film and in life the options for the mentally ill just aren't good ones. Garner can't cope living with him and the places to put him are either horribly run or too expensive. Think of having Woods coping with some Ms. Ratched in some institution.

Garner and Woods play beautifully off each other. Garner extends his range in this, he's not Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford here. Woods is really outstanding here playing in his life an astonishing range of quirky characters, but he really outdoes himself in this part. There's also a nice performance from Piper Laurie as a sympathetic neighbor.

There are some similarities here to Rainman in the reverse relationship between the brothers. In Rainman it's the younger brother caring for an older brother. I'd be hard pressed to split the difference between them. It's only Rainman had a big screen release and Promises is a made for TV film.

It's one of the best of its kind though and should not be missed.

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