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You have to be careful with any movie that is labeled a "Docudrama". Just because it claims to be true doesn't necessarily mean what we're seeing on screen actually happened. I was totally aware of this when I first watched "Promised a Miracle" on CBS back in 1988. But this did a first: It was powerful enough and moving enough to change my opinion. What do I mean by that? Let's go back to 1973.
That is the year when the Wesley Parker case filled the news during that August of 1973. Wesley Parker, 12 year old (I believe it was 12 but I may be wrong) son of Mr. & Mrs. Larry Parker - and diabetic - was supposedly faith healed. Three days after his insulin was thrown away, Wesley died. But were the parents grief stricken? Nope. They then announced to a stunned nation that Wesley would rise from the dead four days later. Then "Resurrection" services were held for Wesley, in which he was not resurrected, and one week later Mr. & Mrs. Parker were arrested for manslaughter. I never did know how this case turned out, but for some reason I never forgot the name Wesley Parker and what had happened. All these years I thought the parents had to be really stupid and terrible people. How could they let such a horrible thing happen to their own child?
Which is why "Promised a Miracle" is one of the most amazing Made-For-TV movies I've ever seen. With an intelligent script and absolutely first-rate performances by Judge Reinhold and Rossanna Arquette, the movie managed to turn my opinion and allowed me to feel actual sympathy for the parents. They were NOT horrible stupid people. What they were was misguided. They loved Wesley with all their heart and truly believed that a higher source would indeed cure their son and bring him back. One of the most heartbreaking scenes occurs a little past the hour mark when Larry and Lucky Parker finally have to admit the most horrible thing that parents could ever admit: They let Wesley die. He would not be coming back, and they would have to live with it for the rest of their lives. The scene at the baseball diamond is Judge Reinhold's best moment. And by the way, that's Giovanni Rubisi as Wesley Parker, and his talent shows even at that young an age.
I hope this gem of a TV Movie will not be forgotten. It is great storytelling and gives "Docudrama" a good name.
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