Promise (1986 film)

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Promise (film).jpg
Written by Richard Friedenberg (screenplay)
Ken Blackwell (story)
Tennyson Flowers (story)
Directed by Glenn Jordan
Starring James Garner
James Woods
Piper Laurie
Theme music composer David Shire
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Peter K. Duchow
James Garner
Richard Friedenberg
Glenn Jordan
Cinematography Gayne Rescher
Editor(s) Paul Rubell
Running time 97 minutes
Production company(s) Hallmark Hall of Fame
Garner-Duchow Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original network CBS
Original release 14 December 1986
Hallmark Hall of Fame episode
Episode no. Season 36
Episode 1
Production code 274
Original air date December 14, 1986 (1986-12-14)
Episode chronology
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Episode list

Promise is a 1986 American made-for-television drama film presented by Hallmark Hall of Fame. Adapted by screenwriter Richard Friedenberg from a story by Ken Blackwell and Tennyson Flowers, the film was directed by Glenn Jordan and aired December 14, 1986. James Garner stars as a carefree man who returns to his hometown after his mother's death and has to assume responsibility for his mentally ill younger brother (James Woods). One of the most honored films in television history, Promise received the Peabody Award, Humanitas Prize, Christopher Award and Golden Globe Award. Its record of five Primetime Emmy Awards was not matched until 2010, by the film Temple Grandin.


When his mother dies, estranged son Bob (James Garner) inherits her estate, and, surprisingly, custody of his younger brother D.J. (James Woods), who suffers from schizophrenia. Bob is initially reluctant at his new responsibility, but remembers that he had promised his mother to look after his brother.


The cast and credits of Promise are recorded at WorldCat.[1]


Promise was first broadcast December 14, 1986, as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame television anthology series. Directed by Glenn Jordan from a screenplay by Richard Friedenberg,[2]:192 the film was shot September–October 1986 on location in Oregon, in Corvallis, Salem and Dallas, and at Triangle Lake.[3][4]

"It was an easy decision for me and my producing partner, Peter Duchow, to join forces with Hallmark," James Garner wrote in his 2011 autobiography, The Garner Files. He felt he would not have been able to play the role of Bob Beuhler five years earlier, since he felt it was unsympathetic. "Not that Bob is a villain, he just never grew up," Garner wrote. James Woods was cast as his younger brother, D.J.; Garner remembered him from the first episode of The Rockford Files.[2]:192–193

Woods has said, "People ask me, 'What's the favorite thing you've ever done in your life?' and I always say Promise because it was a perfect part for me and a perfect experience with Jim."[2]:250 He researched his role at a halfway house in Santa Monica, California, where he met a young man whose eloquent description of living with schizophrenia was put into the script:

It's like, all the electric wires in the house are plugged into my brain. And every one has a different noise, so I can't think. Some of the wires have voices in them and they tell me things like what to do and that people are watching me. I know there really aren't any voices, but I feel that there are, and that I should listen to them or something will happen. … I can remember what I was like before. I was a class officer, I had friends. I was going to be an aeronautical engineer. Do you remember, Bobby? I've never had a job. I've never owned a car. I've never lived alone. I've never made love to a woman. And I never will. That's what it's like. You should know. That's why I'm a Hindu. Because maybe it's true: Maybe people are born again. And if there is a God, maybe he'll give me another chance. I believe that, because this can't be all I get.[2]:194–195

"Accepting the Emmy for Best Teleplay, Richard Friedenberg said he hoped the film would help schizophrenics by calling attention to their plight," Garner wrote. "I'm sorry to say that 25 years later, schizophrenia is the worst mental health problem facing the nation."[2]:195

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1987 Peabody Award — CBS Entertainment, Garner-Duchow Productions[5]
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Directing in a Miniseries or a Special — Glenn Jordan
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special — James Woods
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special — Piper Laurie
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or a Special — Richard Friedenberg
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Lead Actor — James Woods
  • 1987 Humanitas Prize — Richard Friedenberg[6]
  • Christopher Award[2]:193
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Special — Gayne Rescher
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special — James Garner
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Lead Actor — James Garner
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Supporting Actress — Piper Laurie

Home media[edit]

  • 2009: Hallmark Hall of Fame, Gold Crown Collector's Edition (DVD), 2009. Special features include a featurette on the making of the film, interviews, cast biographies and credits. Close captioned.[7][8]
  • 2012: Warner Archive (DVD-R, created on demand), August 28, 2012.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Promise (Film, 1986)". WorldCat. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Garner, James, and Jon Winokur. The Garner Files: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. ISBN 9781451642612
  3. ^ "Filming to finish at Triangle Lake". Eugene Register-Guard, October 10, 1986. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
  4. ^ "Garner's hunch results in touching 'Promise'". Buck, Jerry, Associated Press (The Milwaukee Sentinel), December 9, 1986. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
  5. ^ "Promise". Peabody Awards. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  6. ^ "'Promise' Wins Humanitas". Harmetz, Aljean, The New York Times, July 8, 1987. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  7. ^ "Promise (DVD, 2009)". WorldCat. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  8. ^ "Promise". Hallmark Licensing LLC. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  9. ^ "Promise". Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  10. ^ "Promise". AllMovie. Retrieved 2014-08-16.

External links[edit]