Life, Love and Ann Jillian
To be honest when I sat down to watch "The Ann Jillian Story" I had no idea who Ann Jillian was although I soon discovered that she was an actress who I had actually seen in a Christmas movie a few months earlier. But that was as far as my knowledge went and I wondered what was so special about Ann Jillian and her life that it deserved a movie being made out of it, especially as it starred Ann Jillian playing herself, which made it sound a little like a vanity project. But then I found why Ann Jillian's story was worth telling as during the 80s when she was appearing on the series "It's a Living" she was also battling breast cancer.
Now Ann Jillian's battle with breast cancer is a major part of "The Ann Jillian Story" but at the same time so is her relationship with Andy Murcia, a Chicago cop who she married and who would become her manager. These two elements along with a look at Ann's career make for a surprisingly engaging TV movie and anything but the vanity project which had initially crossed my mind.
Now taking into account that "The Ann Jillian Story" is an 80s movie there are some aspects of it which are very stereotypical of the era especially when it comes to TV movies. But it also has something more as it has a touch of 70s romantic comedy in there when it comes to the early scenes which focus on Ann and Andy's relationship which makes it feel like this is more than a TV movie. Plus of course this evolves as Ann learns she has breast cancer and deals with her treatment and surgery, which is done in a sensitive manner but one which works well to still raise public awareness.
There is also the little matter of the acting and on the few occasions I have watched an actor playing them self in a movie about them it hasn't worked. But this is different with Ann Jillian doing a wonderful job of playing herself in a manner which when combined with Tony Lo Bianco as Andy brings a touch of romantic comedy to the movie. Jillian and Bianco work so well together that at times you forget this is a biopic and think you are watching a romantic comedy with a dramatic element.
What this all boils down to is that despite some initial reservations I have to say that "The Ann Jillian Story" is a surprisingly effective made for TV movie which is part romantic drama and part medical drama but wholly entertaining.