Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1989)
A Gripping Rescue
Back in the days of video I came across "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" in a bargain bucket, it was cheap which at the time was about the only thing I cared about as I set about amassing a sizeable video collection. Well it was "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" which started my life long interest in true story movies and whilst I have since seen better this is still a marvellous movie which not only has you gripped by the drama but warms your heart by the kindness of people who come together in an emergency.
When the phone rings whilst minding children in her sister's backyard Cissy McClure (Roxana Zal) rushes in to answer it, she was only gone a minute but when she returned her daughter Jessica had gone and the rock covering a narrow well pipe was off. With emergency services and media swooping on the backyard the rescue mission starts but with Jessica precariously lodged in the pipe they can't be rash as vibrations may cause her not only to fall further but injure herself. But everyone rallies around with everyone volunteering their help and becoming personally involved in this rescue, refusing to leave even after darkness falls.
In many ways "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" is one of the most complete true story movies I have come across which manages to not only cover the story and make it dramatic for the audience, but it also gets across the personal turmoil and in doing so making the audience involved in this miraculous drama. As to that story well it all starts with the astonishing fact of a small child ending up stuck down a small pipe. It sounds unbelievable but as you watch this drama play out it becomes all the more believable and director Mel Damski does a good job of highlighting the location, the abandoned pipes which litter the outside of town to make us realise that this isn't as far fetched as it might first appear.
But then you have the actual drama of the rescue and the complexity of it as the coordinators quickly realise that too much vibration could cause Jessica to slip further down. Add to that difficulties with drilling through rock, the dropping night time temperature and a lot more and "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" is gripping stuff. What is amazing is that there is very little manufactured drama, there's not a lot of what I call "Yippee Kay Yay" moments of testosterone fuelled action, but a sense of reality, a sense of observing what happened rather than some re-enactment. Okay so it goes a bit over the top towards the end but I can let that slide because going out on anything other than a sense of triumph would have appeared a damp squib.
But the icing on the cake is the personal side and I will be honest it makes you well up watching the way everyone and anyone came together to try and help rescue Jessica. From the two cops who were first on the scene refusing to leave as they kept watch at the top of the well pipe to those who came along volunteering their expertise in drilling through hard rock as well as those who supplied food. And whilst we never know much about any of these people the fact they are all personally invested in the rescue, even the reporter who is first on the scene it makes us personally invested, feeling the strain and the emotional turmoil of the situation as every hour passes. As such whilst "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" has its stars such as Pat Hingle, Patty Duke and Beau Bridges every actor is a star even those such as the nameless police woman who you see helping control the public as they watch.
What this all boils down to is that "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" is not the greatest movie you will ever watch but it is one of the greatest true story movies you will ever watch because in turning the story into a drama it involves you personally.
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