After the Promise (1987) (TV)
This tightly and straightforwardly directed film follows the traditional, economic TV-movie style in order to advocate its powerhouse narrative. The film is almost overly pragmatic during the opening stages as it sets the scene for a young, hard-working widower who has to fight hard times and a matriarchal public welfare system to be able to keep his four sons in sole custody. Fronted by the industrious and expressive Mark Harmon (the tall version of Tom Cruise, if you like), the film keeps thrusting forward with a clear mission. It might not seem explicitly as relevant in modern times, but there are clear parallels to current state of affairs in equivalent public offices and politics, and screenwriters Lenski and Milito construct and craft their script brilliantly. The director is veteran British TV-man David Greene who knows well how to play the audience and which buttons to push. His end product is seductive as it calls persistently for our empathy. But unlike many other of its kind, this here is a valid and significant request that is completely impossible to resist. After the Promise is one of the most veraciously sentimental films of its period. A film that the refined viewer will put it in front of The Champ (1979) as the ultimate tear-jerker.