Blind Faith (1990 film)
|Directed by||Paul Wendkos|
|Produced by||Susan Baerwald (executive producer)
Daniel Franklin (co-producer)
Dan Wigutow (executive producer)
|Written by||Joe McGinniss (book)
David Barry Gray
|Music by||Laurence Rosenthal|
|Editing by||Christopher Cooke
|Production company||NBC Productions|
|Release date||February 11, 1990|
|Running time||190 minutes|
Blind Faith is a 1990 television film directed by Paul Wendkos, based on the 1989 true crime book of the same name by Joe McGinniss. Originally broadcast in two parts with a total runtime of 190 minutes, the film is sometimes classified as a TV miniseries.
In Toms River, New Jersey, in 1982, the Marshalls are an apparently happy family living the American Dream. Rob Marshall has been recognized as one of the 50 best insurance salesmen in the United States, and is supported by his wife Maria and three sons, 18-year-old Roby, 17-year-old Chris and 12-year-old John.
In September 1984, Maria is shot and killed. Rob claims she was murdered by a robber while he was changing a flat tire. When the police commence their investigations, however, they discover unsettling truths about the Marshalls. For example, Rob has secretly accumulated an enormous debt and has secured a second mortgage of $100,000 in Maria's name. He also admits that he has had an affair with a neighbor, Felice Richmond, for a year and a half, explaining that he was not in love with Maria anymore. It is soon revealed that Maria knew about the affair and considered divorcing him, but she decided to work on their marriage, shortly before she was killed.
Felice gives the police a statement that Rob wanted to get rid of his wife to receive her life insurance. He immediately becomes the prime suspect. At first, his friends and sons support him, although they notice that he does not seem to be in mourning over Maria's death. Much to his best friend Sal's anger, he is more interested in building up a future with Felice, who was dumped by her husband soon after her testimony. Rob is advised by his lawyer not to contact Felice because it could influence his image. This troubles Rob, who is deeply in love with the woman.
Meanwhile, the police have expanded their list of suspects to include Andrew Meyers, a Louisiana shop clerk who had contact with Rob concerning his financial problems, and Arnie Eggers, a rumored hitman.
As all evidence seems to point against Rob, Felice breaks off their relationship, which leads him to a failed suicide attempt in a motel. By this point, Chris for the first time admits that he suspects that his father might in fact be the killer. Roby and John are both shocked to hear this, strongly believing in their father's innocence. Rob admits to Sal that he hired Ferlin L'Heureux, a private detective, on the night his wife was killed to find out how he lost all of his money. Roby has trouble coping with a recent newspaper article in which his mother's personal life has been attacked. Deeply hurt, he hits the road and is almost involved in a car accident.
Police find an audio tape which Rob recorded shortly before he supposedly attempted to kill himself. On tape, he speaks about L'Hereux, who in turn claims that Ricky Dunlap was the man hired to murder Maria. On Christmas Eve, Rob is arrested and put in jail. Roby visits him and is assured by his father that he is not guilty.
The trial begins at the Atlantic Courthouse in 1986. L'Hereux gives a detailed testimony in which he claims that Rob hired him to murder Maria, so he thereby could inherit her money and collect her insurance. L'Hereux claims that he found her too beautiful to kill and because of that contacted Ricky Dunlap to finish the job.
The trial has a big impact on the children. Roby and John are unable to hide their emotions, and Chris turns into an angry young man wanting justice to be served. When the moment comes that Rob asks Roby to give a false testimony which would provide him an alibi, it becomes clear to the son that his father is not the person he thought him to be.
In the end, Dunlap is found not guilty. The entire blame goes to Rob, disparaged by prosecuting attorney Kelly as "a legend in his own mind" whom he considers many times worse than Dunlap, even if he was not the one who performed the actual murder.
Rob is sentenced to death by lethal injection. A narrator reveals that he is on death row, waiting for appeal. It is also revealed that Roby finished college, that Chris became a swimming instructor and that John, who married at age 17, never stopped believing in his father's innocence.
- Robert Urich as Robert O. Marshall
- Joanna Kerns as Maria Marshall
- David Barry Gray as Roby Marshall
- Jay Underwood as Chris Marshall
- Johnny Galecki as John Marshall
- Dennis Farina as Prosecutor Kelly
- Joe Spano as Sal Caccaro
- Doris Roberts as Tessie McBride
- Robin Strasser as Felice Richmond
- William Forsythe as Ferlin L'Hereux
- Guy Boyd as Seely
- Dakin Matthews as Uncle Gene
- David Andrews as Ricky Dunlap
- Gordon Clapp as Detective O'Brien
- Jake Dengel (fr) as Andrew 'Andy' Meyers
- Kevin Dunn as Lt. Gladstone
- Mary-Joan Negro as Paula Caccaro
Production and release
Blind Faith was nominated in 1990 for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Special (for part II), Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special (for part I) and Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special - Single Camera Production (for part II). It was also nominated in 1991 for an ACE Eddie award for Best Edited Episode from a Television Mini-Series (for part II).
During filming, Joanna Kerns became very close with Robert and Maria Marshall's eldest son, Roby Marshall, who served as a consultant on the miniseries. It was through that relationship that Roby met actress Tracey Gold, who had costarred with Kerns on the TV series Growing Pains. Marshall and Gold married in 1994 and are currently raising four sons together.