(director: James Caan; screenwriters: Spencer Eastman/book by Leslie Waller; cinematographer: Paul Lohmann; editors: Fred & Willianm Steinkamp; music: Leonard Rosenman; cast: James Caan(Tom Hacklin Jr.), Barbra Rae(Ruthie Hacklin Jr.), Joe Grifasi (Matty Stanek), Danny Aiello (Sal Carvello), Jill Eikenberry (Alisa), Josef Summer (J.R. Reid), Kenneth McMillan (Sam Marzetta), Robert Viharo(Jack Scolese), Thomas Hill (Bobby Momisa), Chuck Hicks (Frankie Irish), Andrew Gordon Fenwick (Andy Hacklin), Heather Bicknell (Junie Hacklin), Josephine Nicholls (Hacklin’s Mother); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Rick Rosenberg/Robert Christiansen; MGM; 1980)

A heart-felt and inspiring melodrama thanks to the power of the haunting true incident.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This true story drama is the only film directed by the actor James Caan, who also stars. It’s based on the book by Leslie Waller and written in a straight-forward way by Spencer Eastman. James Caan plays the shy Buffalo, NY, factory worker Tom Hacklin Jr., who is a loving father of the 7-year-old Andy (Andrew Gordon Fenwick) and 3-year-old Junie (Heather Bicknell).

The kids live with his ex-wife Ruthie (Barbra Rae), who marries a small-time hood, Jack Scolese (Robert Viharo), connected to the Mafia. After giving himself up for a stickup of the Treasury Department office in Buffalo, he agrees to testify for the government in a case against 12 of the local Mafioso. His long sentence is dismissed and he’s given instead a new ID, a secret relocation and a job in the newly developed Witness Protection Program.

When Tom’s kids are missing during the relocation and the police refuse to help, his school teacher girlfriend Alisa (Jill Eikenberry), and soon to be wife, gets him the crusading lawyer Sal Carvello (Danny Aiello).

After eight long years of suffering without the kids, the lawyer takes the case to the Supreme Court and that gets Tom custody of the kids.

Tom located the kids in New Mexico and has brought them back to Buffalo.

Though the direction was weak, it was still a heart-felt and inspiring melodrama thanks to the power of the haunting true incident.