I spent Memorial Day with my family, so I didn’t publish a post on Monday. This is the reason why this week’s schedule will be shifted. However, Memorial Day has inspired me to choose a patriotic film for this blog follower dedication review. When I first watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Blind Spot, I saw a commercial for another film in this collection titled An American Story. The film looked intriguing and exciting, enticing me to want to check the film out. Recently, Hallmark Drama aired this film with a different title. This time, the movie is called After the Glory. Anyone who pays attention to Hallmark will know how the network loves changing their film’s titles after that project has been announced. But Hallmark changing a movie’s title 20+ years after its release seems like a strange decision. Despite this unusual choice, my family chose to watch this film in honor of Memorial Day.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Last August, I reviewed I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. One of the strongest aspects of that film was Kathleen Quinlan’s performance, as it was well-rounded, emotional, and powerful. Kathleen’s portrayal of Hope in After the Glory contained those same qualities. In one scene, Hope is reacting to George recalling her husband’s, Tim’s, final minutes. She goes from being pleased about George’s visit to the Veteran’s Office to crying for her lost love. This scene is an example of how much emotionality Kathleen brought to her role. Speaking of George, Brad Johnson effectively adopted the persona that’s expected of a character like George, one of the returning veterans. He appeared confident and sure of himself. But what I also liked about Brad’s performance was how he incorporated a sense of humility. During the film, there were times when George was held accountable for his choices and faced his mistakes. This made the character more relatable. Tom Sizemore portrayed another returning veteran named Jesse. His performance was versatile and highlighted his adaptability. When he was introduced, Jesse is happy to finally return home. A few scenes later, he is angry over the corruption taking place in his town. The well-rounded nature of Tom’s performance helped his character stand out!
The discussion of a veteran’s mental health: In the world of cinema and society as a whole, it seems like the subject of a veteran’s mental health has been recognized more in recent years. When this film was released in 1992, I don’t think there were many films released before or during that year that addressed this topic, especially when a movie takes places around the time of World War II. In After the Glory, the mental well-being of veterans was one of the recurring ideas of the story. During the war, Hope went back to school to earn her psychology degree. She did this in order to provide psychological services to returning veterans. She even tries to use her psychology skills to stop Jesse from committing suicide. The way this idea of a veteran’s mental health was written into the script was done with respect and realism. It made the movie feel like it was kind of ahead of its time.
The veterans’ transition period: An important part of this story was the veterans’ transition period to civilian life. Because the movie focuses on three different veterans, their journeys toward civilian life look and feel unique from each other. When he returns home, George is welcomed to an elaborate parade. He is even offered a job at his father’s law firm and is given an opportunity to be a running mate in Mayor Cantrell’s election campaign. Meanwhile, Jesse is only greeted by a small group of his family and friends when he comes home. He also struggles with issues relating to his physical and mental health. Like the aforementioned subject of a veteran’s mental health, this part of the story was written very well, making the film come across as reverent toward military veterans. It shows that within the uniform is a person that has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Juan’s limited presence: One of the soldiers that was highlighted in this story is a Texas local named Juan. Despite facing racism in his civilian life, he still felt the world was bigger than his own backyard and that change was on the horizon. He was also starting civilian life as a newlywed. Compared to George and Jesse, Juan was featured on screen for a limited amount of time. His story was also weaker than George’s and Jesse’s. I’m not sure if this creative decision was meant to show how racism can negatively affect story-telling or if it was just a coincidence. But I feel Juan should have received the same amount of screen-time as George and Jesse.
A drawn-out first half: In the first half of After the Glory, the majority of the story focused on the veterans transitioning to civilian life. While this was an important part of the plot that provided context, it caused the film’s conflict, the town’s political corruption, to be placed on the back-burner. The conflict does maintain the plot’s primary focus in the second half of the film. But I think the conflict should have had a more consistent presence.
A limited amount of suspense: Because of the town’s election, it allowed the story to incorporate suspense. The process toward the conflict’s resolution was wrapped up in mystery, keeping the audience guessing what would happen next. However, the suspense in this movie was limited. This is the result of the aforementioned drawn-out first half. The creative team’s choice to adopt a more dramatic tone is also what caused the suspense to have a limited presence. Like the film’s conflict, I think the suspense needed to be more consistent.
An overall impression:
During Hallmark Hall of Fame’s 69-year lifespan, there have been some films that took place either during or around the time of World War II. If you look at my post where I tier ranked every Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve seen, you will see that I have enjoyed these films. It looks like After the Glory will be joining that tier with a “good” status! This movie shows how innovative and compelling a project in this collection can be! The subject of a veteran’s mental health being incorporated in this story shows how Hallmark wanted to start a conversation among their audience when it came to important topics. While this is not a new concept for Hallmark Hall of Fame, it has been a consistent part of this collection. While watching this film, I realized that if After the Glory had not been released in 1992, it probably would have never been created. This is because, ever since the Hallmark Hall of Fame branch was moved to Hallmark Channel in 2014, the network has placed an emphasis on trying make the films adopt the same tone and feel as the movies that usually air on Hallmark Channel. I still hope that Hallmark can take more creative risks with their films and promote more creative freedom. To my 195 followers, thank you so much for helping my blog come this far! This review would not have possible without you!
Overall score: 8 out of 10
Have you seen any of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s military related films? Which movie would you watch on Memorial Day? Tell me in the comment section below!
Have fun at the movies!