5 Non Mainstream TV Shows That Competed With High Budget Films

Today's movie selections belong to the category of made-for-TV films. There must be a mysterious force in the minds of movie audiences that consigns  made-for-TV movies inexorably to oblivion. Our five movies, though, are great despite not being made with large budgets and have achieved well-deserved prominence in the global film industry. Some of them have won prestigious awards in their category, and they are more than just easy watching for boring Sunday afternoons.

1. Something  the Lord Made – HBO

The  film, based on a real event, is set in the ‘thirties at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Doctor Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) and his assistant  Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) are not only trying to go beyond well-established  conventions in medicine, but in society as well. They solve the long lasting issue of Blue baby syndrome.  But  the film shows  that their success is not yet  complete. Doctor Blalock and Vivien have to fight another battle. Vivien, while an excellent practitioner with a great understanding of  the  medical field, does not have a formal medical education and, since he is an African American in the 1930s, society does not want to accept him as an equal. The scientific breakthrough and the lifelong friendship these two men established, however, were too important to ignore and gave strong motivations to fight it out and taste  an eventual sweet victory.

2. All Quiet on the Western Front – CBS

In 1929, shortly after the First World War, Erich Maria Remarque wrote a book that opened society’s eyes to the  horrors of trench warfare (as similarly did Henri Barbusse with his Under Fire, through the eyes, however, of one who was a generation older than Remarque was). Remarque himself  fought  on the Western Front and as a very young man (born 1898) belonged to the so-called Lost Generation – young  men who survived the war but who had neither a past nor a future. His book described his own experience and the experience of others. The movie industry has turned the plot into films several times, but the TV version from 1979 surprises viewers with its realistic characters and scenes.

3. The Gabby Douglas Story – HBO Europe

Gabby Douglas is a twenty year old gymnast. At the age of 16, she wins a  gold medal at the Olympics in London, in 2012. The movie tracks the young gymnast’s life since early childhood, her parents’ split, her mother’s financial problems with four children, and  finally the decision to support the dream of the youngest, talented daughter. It is a very inspiring story of toughness, patience, and resolve, together with the support and trust of an entire family. Gabby  decides to move away from her family at a very early age to be close to the coach whom she has chosen to prepare her for the London Olympics. Gabby appears in the movie herself, performing the gymnastic sequences in the film.

4. The Gathering Storm

The most important moments in the career of Winston Churchill lie in the future as war clouds gather over Europe. Albert Finney, as Churchill, is about to prove that he does not yet belong  on the scrap heap of history. His controversial story comes to life in a made-for-TV film that collected two Golden Globes and two more nominations.

5. Anne Frank:  the Whole Story 

The story of Anne Frank  needs no introduction. An intelligent and energetic Jewish girl who fell victim to the Holocaust, perhaps she would have been forgotten if she hadn’t written  a diary, part of which she planned to publish as a remembrance of the war years. Her diary was, after her death in a concentration camp, published by her father and became, after the Bible, the most widely read book ever. The TV film based on this book, with Hannah Taylor-Gordon in the title role, is very emotive and well acted. It also was nominated for several Golden Globes, including the category of main character.

Photo: CSFD

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