Paxton is Miss Saigon

Jenny Robertson in Danielle Steel's 'Message from Nam' (1993)

After her father passed away Paxton Andrews (Jenny Robertson) finds herself in a constant battle with her domineering Savannah mother Beatrice (Rue McClanahan) especially when it comes to which University she attends. But after going against Beatrice's wishes and going to Berkeley she finds love when she meets fellow student Peter Wilson (Steven Eckholdt). Happiness though turns to sorrow when Peter is called up in the draft and dies whilst serving in Vietnam but it leads to Paxton becoming the Saigon correspondent for a newspaper and who tries to bring comfort to the loved ones in America as they fret over their loved ones stationed in Vietnam through her column 'Messages from Nam'. Her journey through life is one of emotional ups and downs as she has to deal with plenty of heartbreak herself as well as things which challenge her morals.

For some really strange reason I enjoy watching the movie adaptations of Danielle Steel novels despite being the complete opposite of who these made for TV movies are intended for. Maybe it is down to enjoying American soaps as a child, maybe it is the fact they all have a certain familiarity which means they don't demand a great deal of attention but something about Danielle Steel movies appeals to me. And it is no different when it comes to "Message from Nam" as it still has that easy to watch melodramatic style but with it focusing on a young woman and her life in Vietnam as well as the losses she suffers it has a touch more depth than you might have been anticipating from a Danielle Steel movie.

Rue McClanahan in Danielle Steel's 'Message from Nam' (1993)

Now I am not going to make out that "Message from Nam" is the most deep and thoughtful movie you will ever come across, but the whole Vietnam side of the movie as Paxton is confronted by all aspects of war from losing a loved one, to falling for another solider to seeing combat first hand whilst everything she witnesses causes her to examine her own beliefs and morals provides the familiar Danielle Steel style story with that extra depth I alluded to.

But of course there is the typical Danielle Steele side to "Message from Nam" as well as we have this melodramatic romantic rollercoaster ride as well as stereotypical characters which fill this 3 hour drama. And just as in other adaptations of Danielle Steel movies the acting here frequently feel forced and over the top which frankly is heightened by the fact that Paxton comes from a Southern family and there is that dominant Southern accent which can come across as forced when you have so much of it. Although you have to say Rue McClanahan has a field day as the pushy, domineering and frankly quite catty family matriarch. In fact whilst Jenny Robertson delivers a perfectly acceptable performance for this type of TV movie it is McClanahan who steals every scene which she is in.

What this all boils down to is that "Message from Nam" is for the most a typical Danielle Steel adaptation with plenty of romance, soft lighting and melodrama. But with the setting being the Vietnam War it has a touch more depth to it than you would normally get from one of these TV movies.

Tags: Danielle Steel Movies

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