The Top Ten Best Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies from the 1990s

Whenever I’ve been nominated for The Pick My Movie Tag, the theme has revolved around Hallmark movies. First, I wrote a list of the top five Hallmark films based on a true story. Then, I published an editorial why Francesca Quinn, PI is the worst Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen. Now, after being nominated for The Pick My Movie Tag for a third time, I’m creating another Hallmark related list! Tagged by Rebecca from Taking Up Room, I was given the option to either write about my first Hallmark film or a favorite Hallmark film from the 90s. While reflecting on all the Hallmark movies released during the 1990s, I realized I had seen enough presentations from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection to curate a top ten list. So, with a gracious thank you to Rebecca, I will share my list of the top ten best Hallmark Hall of Fame films from the 1990s! Before I start this list, I’d like to remind my readers that this article is not only based on my opinion, it is also based on the Hallmark Hall of Fame projects I’ve seen. Each movie will be listed based on when they were released on television. Since this list was written for a tag, I need to include the official tag rules, which are featured below:

The Tag’s Rules

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!
The Pick My Movie Tag banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room

1. Caroline?

Released April 29th, 1990

Two months ago, I reviewed Caroline? for a Blog Follower Dedication Review. When I chose to write about this film, it was an opportunity to share another VHS exclusive Hallmark Hall of Fame title with my readers. But after I saw Caroline?, it quickly became one of my favorite movies from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection! The combination of strong acting performances and a mysterious plot made the story intriguing to watch! The inclusion of messages and themes such as learning from the past and respecting the wishes of others gave the story more depth. Even the creative team’s attention to detail was reflective in the set design, showcasing the differentiation of time within the story. If I were introducing someone to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection, I would tell them about Caroline?!

2. Sarah, Plain and Tall

Released February 3rd, 1991

Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting pre-existing, literary source material. Based on the works I have read, these films are typically respectful toward the source material or better than the source material. From what I remember, Sarah, Plain and Tall belongs in the first category. Like Caroline?, the creative team’s attention to detail could be seen in the set and costume design. The cast as a whole was strong as well. The success of Sarah, Plain and Tall not only led to the start of the only trilogy in Hallmark Hall of Fame history, it also led to the adaptation of other stories from the Western genre within the 1990s. This is one of those titles from the collection that earned a “classic” status!

3. An American Story/After the Glory

Released November 29th, 1992

My review of An American Story/After the Glory is one of my popular movie reviews, garnering over a thousand views and counting! Looking back on my thoughts on this movie, I have an idea why it’s so popular. As I said in that review, An American Story/After the Glory kind of feels ahead of its time. That is due to the inclusion of veteran’s mental health within the story. The way veteran’s mental health, as well as the transition period from soldier to civilian, was written was done with reverence and realism. The script also emphasizes how each veteran is their own unique individual. Out of Hallmark’s miliary related projects, An American Story/After the Glory is one of their better ones!

4. Redwood Curtain

Released April 23rd, 1995

When talking about Sarah, Plain and Tall, I said Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptations are typically respectful toward the source material or better than the source material. In the case of Redwood Curtain, the 1995 film falls in the latter category. Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted this story from a pre-existing play. Redwood Curtain’s transition to the screen allowed the world surrounding the characters to expand, exclusively providing the Riordan landscape to the movie. Other changes in the script include a different personality for Gerri, the story’s protagonist. In the film, Gerri is a more empathetic and understanding character, which gives the audience a reason to want to root for her. Music plays a bigger role in Gerri’s life as well, showing her dedication toward her dreams.

5. The Boys Next Door

Released February 4th, 1996

Besides adapting pre-existing, literary source material, Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting pre-existing plays. 1996’s The Boys Next Door is one of those plays that made the transition to the screen. Similar to Redwood Curtain, the world surrounding the characters expands beyond the limits of the stage. This emphasizes the idea the men in the group home (Barry, Lucien, Norman, and Arnold) are trying to find their place in the world. What also works in The Boys Next Door’s favoris the strength of its cast. Through a blend of facial expressions, vocal inflections, and body language, each character is distinct from one another. These characters are also well written, which made them cherished individuals in the story!

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Caroline? poster created by Hallmark Hall of Fame productions, CBS, and Republic Pictures Home Video

6. What the Deaf Man Heard

Released November 23rd, 1997

It has been a while since I’ve seen What the Deaf Man Heard. From what I remember, I was impressed with the 1997 presentation! This is another film with a strong cast. The interactions between the characters felt believable, making the performances interesting to watch. What the Deaf Man Heard successfully presents the idea of appearances being deceiving, this idea given in a wholesome way. I would love to revisit this movie in the future!

7. Ellen Foster

Released December 14th, 1997

Ellen Foster is another Hallmark Hall of Fame production I haven’t seen in several years. However, this is a movie I highly regard! Like a lot of Hallmark Hall of Fame titles on this list, the cast in Ellen Foster was very talented. But Jena Malone, the actress who portrayed the titular character, stole the show, as she provided a versatile performance! Because this story discusses the subjects of child abuse and neglect, the nature of the film is going to be sadder. Therefore, those who are interested in watching the movie should approach it with the right mind-set. While I won’t spoil the story, I will say the story’s resolution feels earned.

8. The Love Letter

Released February 1st, 1998

Fantasy/Magical Realism is rarely incorporated into Hallmark’s films, let alone their Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. This makes 1998’s The Love Letter stand out among the collection! The idea of time manipulation adds creativity to the movie’s identity. Historical accuracy within the story embellishes the aforementioned identity of the film. Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh succeeded in carrying this movie, as they sold the illusion their characters were attracted to each other. With the consistent focus in the character of Scott and Elizabeth’s graceful maturity beautifully paired with her “romantic dreamer” persona, it was fascinating to watch these two characters communicate with one another!

9. Grace & Glorie

Released December 13th, 1998

As I said in the past, I am not a fan of the Hallmark movie cliché where a woman from a big city moves to a small town. Grace & Glorie contains this cliché, but doesn’t emphasize its presence in the story. Instead, the film focuses on the friendship between the titular characters. The quality of Diane Lane and Gena Rowlands’ performances made their characters’ friendship feel realistic. This made their interactions interesting to watch. Grace & Glorie contains a simpler plot that ends up working in the story’s favor. All these factors come together to create a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that is an underrated gem!

10. Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter’s End

Released November 21st, 1999

Between Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter’s End and Skylark, I always thought the third movie in this trilogy was the more memorable sequel, even though I think this trilogy is one of the strongest ever made. Similar to Sarah, Plain and Tall, the 1999 film revolves around conflicts within the family, such as the arrival of Jacob’s father. However, there were moments of humor and joy that prevented the story from being too serious. The scene where Cassie says grace serves as a perfect example. It was nice to see the Witting family together again, as, from what I remember, the family was split up in Skylark. It almost feels like coming home after a long trip!

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the announcing of the nominees! As I share which bloggers will receive The Pick My Movie Tag, they will be asked to write about a movie from the 1990s they don’t like. So, these five nominees are:

Screenshot of The Love Letter‘s poster taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Rebecca from Taking Up Room

Hamlette from The Edge of the Precipice

MovieRob from MovieRob

Cameron from The Blog Complainer

Kim from Tranquil Dreams

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

5 thoughts on “The Top Ten Best Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies from the 1990s

  1. Oh, this is straight out of my childhood! 😀 I didn’t have cable or movie channels growing up, so Hallmark Hall of Fame movies were almost like special events. 🙂 Something different to watch. Most of the commercials were Hallmark-themed and new for the occasion, too.

    I definitely remember The Boys Next Door, and Ellen Foster rings a faint bell. The Sarah Plain & Tall trilogy is my mom’s favorite. I also have vivid memories of watching What The Deaf Man Heard the night it aired. (What happened to the mother caught my attention – shocked me actually, at the time – then I really liked the rest of the movie.) I found it on YouTube not too long ago and still enjoyed it. Tom Skerritt’s character in particular is so sweet. ❤ I also remember one from a little later on (the 2000s, probably) called Saint Maybe that I was fond of.

    Speaking of my childhood, I thought of you the other day. 🙂 We talked about Diagnosis Murder once when you reviewed an episode, and I’d just recently discovered (or maybe your review even inspired my search) that its early seasons were available on the streaming service Pluto TV. Well, Pluto TV has recently switched to offering most of the later seasons, which has kickstarted my Diagnosis Murder deep dive all over again, and led me to rediscover one of my all-time favorite episodes that I just have to share with you. ❤

    “Trapped in Paradise” – season 6, episode 12. It’s like a mini-movie all its own, and I think it might be right up your alley. Mark’s son Steve (Dick Van Dyke’s son Barry) had lots of girlfriends and love story plots, but this was (and still is) by far my favorite. ❤ He’s forced to go undercover with a tabloid reporter named Shelby (posing as husband and wife in a gated community where people keep getting murdered), and romance inevitably follows. 😉 I remember recording it on VHS when it aired and watching it all the time. 🙂 Now viewing it through adult eyes, I can see that it’s a bit forced and predictable (forced as in things move FAST – they’ve got a lot of ground to cover in 45 minutes – and predictable as in it’s obvious from the get-go that these two are going to end up falling for each other), but I still have such a soft spot for it. ❤ I’ve rewatched it twice already. 🙂 It’s well done (especially, again, given the limitations of one 45-minute episode), and I think this is one where they actually give you enough info to solve the mystery yourself, if you’re REALLY paying attention.

    For a good Columbo-style episode (where the murderer is clear from the beginning, and the only mystery is why they did it and if they’ll get caught), I still recommend season 1’s “Guardian Angel” (which is the one I mentioned originally). And for what I consider the quintessential Diagnosis Murder episode (that really showcases the strengths of the cast and their chemistry together, which was the best thing the show had going for it), I recommend season 3’s “Witness to Murder.” I don’t believe I mentioned it to you before, but it’s my overall favorite out of the ones I’ve rewatched so far – even though it’s not a typical mystery either. (It’s another one where there’s really nothing to “solve.” You just watch and enjoy.) But for a good solvable mystery / love story, I highly recommend season 6’s “Trapped in Paradise.” ❤

    If you do streaming, Pluto TV is free with ads and currently offers seasons 3, 5, 6, and 7 of Diagnosis Murder on demand. (Why only those random seasons, I don’t know.) It also airs on the Hallmark Mystery Channel (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, maybe?), if you have access to that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooo, interesting! 😀 I’m going to pop over and read your review, but first, do you know what I realized the other day? Well, two things, actually. 1. I can watch Diagnosis Murder via the Hallmark Mystery channel on demand through my mom’s Hulu Live, which would be great, except 2. Hallmark’s Mystery channel cuts scenes from episodes! 😮 I mean, I know practically everything that airs on TV is edited slightly to make time for commercials, but I’m talking whittled down even more than usual. Maybe Pluto TV actually shows complete episodes (even with ads), but I was shocked at what’s left out between the two. I even got a little obsessed and watch an episode back-to-back on each service to compare, and the Hallmark version cut two whole scenes that Pluto TV included. 😮 Plus, Pluto TV has 4 commercial breaks, while Hallmark Mystery has 5! (Maybe it’s necessary due to potential loss of money from competition with streaming services, but that seems a bit much to me. Possibly greedy.) Granted, the scenes that were cut could be called “fluff” that really had nothing to do with the actual murder, but my main enjoyment when it comes to this show is the fluff. 🙂 And with some episodes, like Trapped in Paradise (the love story one), I can’t imagine what they could possibly cut, since it is packed and nothing in it seems inessential to me. So, anyway, just a word of warning: if you watch on Hallmark Mystery, you’re getting the extra-edited version. 😦

        Also, I meant to say earlier, please don’t feel pressure to watch all (or any) of these. That’s why I went into a little detail, since all three are so different in terms of their mystery (one Columbo-like, one that’s just fun to watch with little to solve, and one that you can solve yourself), you can choose the “style” that sparks your interest most. (Or, if none of them really do, that’s okay, too.) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the heads up, Jillian! I’ve heard something similar happening with episodes of ‘Touched by an Angel’, back when Hallmark aired re-runs on one of their channels. As for the reviews of ‘Diagnosis Murder’, I appreciate when my readers give me suggestions, whether it’s a television episode or movie. Whenever I get around to reviewing a recommendation, it’s because I want to show my appreciation toward my readers. Therefore, I will eventually write about ‘Diagnosis Murder’ again. I just have to find the right opportunity to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

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