Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987) starring Melissa Gilbert, Joe Penny, Eileen Brennan, Anthony Franciosa, Talia Shire directed by Paul Wendkos Movie Review

Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Melissa Gilbert in Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987)

Married to the Mafia

Do you own a time machine with the ability to wipe out your memory, I hope so if you plan to watch "Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife" a made for TV movie from the 80's. I say that because this is one seriously dated movie; I am not just on about 80s fashion and make-up and the fact red-headed Melissa Gilbert has blonde hair but in the cliche, comically corny representation of a Mafia family. In truth the story itself isn't completely terrible and the central characters are reasonably well acted, buoyed by an appealing cast, but everything else about the movie is now bordering on the entertainingly bad, you capiche Toots, as they say in this movie.

Having been in the city for not much more than 9 months country girl and fashion designer Marian (Melissa Gilbert) ends up meeting attorney Edward Moran (Joe Penny) when she is taken to the police station having had her bag snatched. It doesn't take long for Marian to become head over heels in love with Edward and whilst cautious of things moving too quickly agrees to marry him. What she doesn't realise is that Edward's large Italian family are in fact Mafia, that is until trouble with Cuban heavies forces the family to go to the mattresses and Marian has to live at the family home under guard. But when she is approached by an FBI agent who wants her help she has to think about what is best for her.

Joe Penny in Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987)

I will guarantee that if you are a fan of mafia/mob movies you will watch "Blood Vows" with either your head in your hands or in hysterics. It takes every mafia cliche you can think of from Mama being a cliche old fashioned Italian mother to dropping cliche dialogue like "capiche" in to the mix. None of it feels in the least bit natural especially when watched now and it borders on the comically bad. In fairness it probably didn't come across like that back in 1987, we hadn't had the "Sopranos" or "Goodfellas" yet and you can see that a lot of elements have been used from "The Godfather".

The stereotypes and cliches are not the only things which cause "Blood Vows" problems as it hasn't aged at all well. You have to try and take things into account but clothing, make-up, big hair and even bigger shoulder-pads all contribute to it now feeling incredibly cheesy. But the worst of this is the 80s soundtrack which when ever we get a romantic scene, often with over indulgent use of candle lights we an even more over indulgent use of smooth sax. As I said you have to try and take the movie's age into account but it is one of the most dated 80s movies I have watched.

I could go on putting "Blood Vows" down as there is a lot wrong including the typical 80s action and the fact that Melissa Gilbert barely looks like Melissa Gilbert when she has blonde hair. But then I actually kind of like the storyline of a woman who marries into the mob and then wants out. There are lost of problems with the script, none more so than the fact Marian would have to be blind not to realise what sort of family she was marrying in to but it has some nice drama and a surprising ending. Although again the whole romantic side as Eddie woos Marian is part of what makes it cheesy.

What this all boils down to is that "Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife" is now a dated experience and often borders on the entertainingly bad even when you try to take into account the movie's age. But between all the stereotyping, and cliche dialogue there is an entertaining if flawed storyline as well as a youthful performance from Melissa Gilbert who looks very different to the Melissa Gilbert we know now.