TV review: “The Lost Valentine,” a WWII-generation family romance
January 19th, 2011
By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) – With the first of the baby boomers turning 65 this year, the ranks of their parents – the children of the Depression and the youthful GIs and Rosie the Riveters of the Second World War – are rapidly thinning. So perhaps it’s an appropriate time for a celebration of the values and ideals cherished by those who have aptly been called the “greatest generation.”
“The Lost Valentine” – a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, produced in association with Paulist Productions – offers just such a salute. Based on James Michael Pratt’s novel, and directed by Darnell Martin, the sweetly romantic, family-oriented drama premieres Sunday, Jan. 30, 9-11 p.m. EST on CBS.
Each Valentine’s Day – her wedding anniversary and the anniversary, a year later, of her husband’s departure for service in the Pacific – Caroline Thomas, touchingly played by the indefatigable Betty White, returns to the railroad station where she saw her courageous and high-minded spouse, Neil (Billy Magnussen), for the last time.
Though he was reported missing in action shortly after the birth of their son a few months later, 65 years on, Neil’s ultimate fate remains a mystery.
Assigned to cover Caroline’s story as a human interest piece, initially doubtful TV reporter Susan Allison (Jennifer Love Hewitt) rapidly finds herself drawn to the plucky octogenarian and – more significantly – to Caroline’s biggest fan, her protective grandson, Lucas (Sean Faris).
Susan’s feelings for Lucas are complicated, however, by her relationship with longtime boyfriend, Andrew (Will Chase), a globetrotting photographer who, in an early scene, proposes to Susan shortly before departing for his latest journey to distant climes.
The unabashedly old-fashioned teleplay, by Maryann Ridini Spencer and Barton Taney, showcases Caroline’s enduring marital love and – as the circumstances of his last days are gradually uncovered – Neil’s selfless heroism.
As for Susan’s dilemma, it pits the modern taste for a lifestyle abundant in space and freedom, typified by the possibilities of marriage to the often-absent Andrew, against the hometown closeness and simplicity offered by Lucas.
If the proceedings occasionally seem over-idealized, this is, nonetheless, that current rarity: quality programming appropriate for all ages. So parents can feel entirely comfortable gathering the clan for a wholesome and inviting stroll back in time to the days of swing music, victory gardens, and demanding commitments – both personal and patriotic – fulfilled.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.
From January 21, 2011 issue of Catholic San Francisco.