Amy (1981)

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Vincent McEveety isn’t an unfamiliar name when it comes to live-action Disney films. He’s directed about a dozen or so of them, some enjoyable and some not so great. Today, we take a look at the last theatrical live-action Disney film he directed, Amy. Apparently, this film was originally intended to be released as a TV film, but Disney decided to release it theatrically. Was it just that good? Keep on reading to find out!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film takes place in the year 1913 and begins with a well-dressed forlorn-looking woman, leaving her home. Amy Medford, played by Jenny Agutter, travels from Boston to a small school in the Appalachians. It is a school for deaf and blind children and she has come to the school to offer her services there as a teacher, particularly for the deaf children. She’s welcomed by many, but some of the other staff look down on her as she believes that deaf children can be taught to speak whereas the prevailing theory at the time is that deaf children can’t be taught to speak.

“Yet that is precisely what I intend to do!”

Nevertheless, Amy goes right to work trying to teach the deaf children how to speak. She has them watch her lip movements as well as feel the vibrations of her mouth as she talks. One day, one of the boys gets extremely sick and Amy sends out for a doctor. Due to lack of funding for the school, there isn’t a doctor on the premises. When the Irish Dr. Corcoran, played by Barry Newman, arrives, he immediately takes a fancy to Amy. He’s good at his work, but also doesn’t take himself too seriously and prefers putting a smile on the children’s faces rather than being a stickler for rules and regulations.

It’s also evident that Amy fancies Dr. Corcoran as well, but there’s a problem: Amy is married!

Yep, that was her and her husband’s house we saw her leave at the beginning of the film. While Amy’s been teaching at this school, her husband, played by Chris Robinson, hires an investigator to discover where Amy has run off to.

It’s not long though before Amy’s method proves fruitful and one of her students starts to speak. She continues to teach and get close to the children, but not all events are pleasant.

He’s not talking about COVID-19, is he?

We see her break down crying after one of the children dies. Amy confides in Dr. Corcoran that she lost a child herself once.

She and her husband had a child who was born deaf. It was later discovered that he had a heart defect and died due to it. Mr. Medford felt Amy was somehow to blame and accused her of being “incapable of having normal children”. By now it’s clear to us why Amy left him and why she’s so passionate about children, especially deaf children.

As the days go on, the children continue to learn and interact with other children proving that their disabilities do not prevent them from living “normal” lives. Also Amy’s and Dr. Corcoran’s romance blossoms further. Amy is hesitant at first, but eventually gives in to her feelings.

“Funny, I was hoping for an answer to the question, ‘What do you see when you look at me?’.

Soon enough, it’s Christmastime and everyone at the school is enjoying merrily. However, once of the deaf children accidentally hurts one of the other boys at night. He then runs away with the entire faculty trying to find him. He runs to the railroad tracks and since he’s deaf, he doesn’t hear the train whistle resulting in him getting killed after being run over by the train!

Wow, I never thought I would ever see someone get killed by a train in a Disney film!
I mean, even Chief from The Fox and the Hound survived with a broken leg!

Everyone is devastated including Amy and the kid’s parents. But they’re grateful that their son was able to learn to fit in with other kids and that the whole experience was worth it. They decide to send their younger daughter to the school as well.

Back at the school, Mr. Medford has tracked down Amy and tries to get her to go back with him. Amy stands up for herself and announces that she won’t return to him and that she’ll stay here teaching at the school. She begins to ascend the stairs and the film abruptly ends.

And that was Amy! I don’t know whose idea it was to make this theatrical, but it definitely did NOT have a theatrical feel to it. Heck, it didn’t even have a Disney feel to it! It felt more like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie that needed work.

It has a lot of great ideas and intentions, but it just doesn’t work all the way through. The film has this lowkey energy to it which just doesn’t work in the final product. The performances by most of the cast are as good as written, with the exception of Barry Newman, whom I felt wasn’t even trying. And boy, was that ending abrupt! It was just a weird movie experience overall!

So, my final score for this film is 19/35 = 54.29% (F) !

The next review will be posted on October 6, 2020.

2 thoughts on “Amy (1981)

  1. I’ve had this movie on my watch list for a while, but now perhaps you’ve saved me some time considering your review. And it most definitely looks and sounds like a tv movie instead of a theater film!

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