A Mitchum Kerr Reunion
With failed marriages and having just lost his job Carl Hostrup (Robert Mitchum - Promises to Keep) has not much to look forwards to in life. Then out of a blue an old war buddy, from his days of being stationed in Britain, tracks him down and asks him to come over for a reunion at Fairborough in the UK. He also asks Carl to track down another war veteran, Jiggs Quealy (Red Button - When Time Ran Out...), who he discovers is on hard times and an alcoholic. Having helped Jiggs tidy up his act and get on the wagon they head to England where Carl tracks down Sally Wells Grant (Deborah Kerr - An Affair to Remember), a girlfriend he had whilst stationed there during the war. And Sally is extremely shocked to see him and has a surprise for him.
Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr together again and after making three movies together "Reunion at Fairborough" was to be their fourth and sadly final movie together. It is this made for TV movie's big draw, two great actors on screen together in another drama with a touch of romance, and just for good measure there is Red Buttons as well. The calibre of the cast certainly helps as they bring dignity to "Reunion at Fairborough" which it sorely needs whilst also making it exceptionally easy to watch.
I will say spoiler alert as what comes next reveals something even though it is pretty obvious. So I said the above for the simple reason that "Reunion at Fairborough" is in truth a routine drama as even before we are told we can guess that Carl unknowingly had a child when he was stationed in the UK and this return to Fairborough will see him coming face to face with her and the revelation of a war time secret. Now in fairness there is some depth to this as when we meet Carl he is in a bad place in life as we discover he has lost his job and has little to look forwards to but for the most you know what to expect right down to the secret which initially causes problems for Carl but also gives him some optimism.
But despite its routine nature "Reunion at Fairborough" still works and that is very much down to the calibre of the cast with Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr working so well together. There is a real warmth between them that just lights up the screen and whilst in the case of Mitchum there is a bit of a character jump as his outlook suddenly changes you don't mind because Mitchum at his charming best is so much more interesting than Mitchum playing depressed. As for Red Buttons as Jiggs, well he overplays his part but makes the character of Jiggs interesting as he struggles with life when he hasn't got a drink in him, ashamed of who he is when he is sober.
What this all boils down to is that "Reunion at Fairborough" doesn't hold many surprises and you can pretty much guess how it will play out shortly after the first secret is revealed but it oozes warmth and charm. That charm comes from the calibre of the cast and whilst "Reunion at Fairborough" is clearly a made for TV movie the fact we have Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr back together again gives it that something extra to make it a wonderful Sunday afternoon drama which in some ways makes me think of the more recent "Closing the Ring".