Friday, May 1, 2020

THE LOVE GOES ON BLOGATHON: Chances Are, 1989


The Love Goes On Blogathon is hosted by Steve at MovieMovieBlogBlogII on May 1 to 3. All of the movies presented speak to that eternal emotion that survives even death. Click HERE to enjoy the contributions.


Sally (Mimi Kennedy), an after-life bureaucrat, makes an on-the-spot diagnosis of recent arrival Louis Jeffries: "Hopeless case of attachment."

Ryan O'Neal, Cybill Shepherd, Christopher McDonald
The Three Musketeers of Chances Are

No one could blame him. One moment Louis (Christopher McDonald) is leading a charmed life. He is celebrating his first wedding anniversary to the love of his life, Corinne (Cybill Shepherd) who has told him they are expecting a child.

On the career front, his (their) dearest friend in the world Philip Train is a reporter who has given Louis, a crusading district attorney, solid evidence against a crooked judge. On his way to an anniversary supper with diamond earrings in his pocket, Louis is struck by a car and finds himself separated from all he loves. 

Fortunately, Louis is informed that everyone goes back, it is merely a matter of waiting for your time. Louis is naturally impatient (remember that hopeless case of attachment), so the squeaky wheel goes to the head of the line. A woman in Cleveland is about to give birth and Louis begins his race back to Corinne. Unfortunately, the rushed nature of this rebirth means that another after-life bureaucrat, Omar (Joe Grifasi) neglected to give this traveler his inoculation. Oh well, it's too late now. Perhaps it will work out for the best.

Robert Downey Jr.
The "came the dawn" moment for Alex/Louis aka WTF!?

Twenty-some years later Alex Finch (Robert Downey Jr.) of Cleveland is graduating Yale University where he becomes acquainted with pretty Miranda Jeffries (Mary Stuart Masterson). The budding journalist makes his way to Washington where he has big dreams of being hired at the Washington Post. Editor Ben Bradlee (Henderson Forsythe) does not hire rookies. However, Alex makes the acquaintance of Philip, who takes him home for dinner at the Jeffries place. 

Philip has always loved Corinne and has helped her raise Miranda all of these years. Their love for the departed Louis both binds them and keeps them apart. Philip has had two broken marriages and Corinne has a psychiatrist to help with her "halo syndrome" regarding Louis. If Philip wants to bring a stray home for dinner, it is alright with the girls. Particularly alright with Miranda who remembers the young man from their encounter at Yale.

Mary Stuart Masterson, Ryan O'Neal
On the outside looking in, but at what?

It becomes obvious throughout the dinner why that post-life inoculation was necessary. Louis' memories start flooding back to the shocked Alex. Like pieces of dreams, he remembers his life with the two people who are dearest to him, Corinne and Philip. Louis realizes that he (as Alex) had kissed his own daughter! He knows where light bulbs are kept and the names of relatives in paintings. Can he get Corinne to believe it?

Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr.
A moment in time.

Louis must convince Corinne that he is who he knows himself to be; her deceased husband. When the evidence builds up, Corinne and Louis share a lovely summer day at a fair. The carousel music is Romberg's Will You Remember? from Maytime. The music links the brief, yet lasting romance in that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movie to the charmed experience of Corinne and Louis this day.

Chances Are is a movie with a good heart. It is filled with charming performances, a funny and touching script, and great physical comedy. The conflict among the characters creates moments of hilarity and poignancy. The resolution is sweet and satisfactory.

The set and costume design spans the time from the 1960s to the 1980s and evokes a real sense of era and character. The use of two of Johnny Mathis's great hit records, Chances Are and Wonderful Wonderful is delightful.

Whether you look at Chances Are as a fantasy or a romantic comedy, it is a genuine pleasure as written by Perry Howze and Randy Howze and directed by Emile Ardolino (The Nutcracker).


Classic TV friends in Chances Are:


Kathleen Freeman was Tony-nominated for The Full Monty and appeared in hundreds of movies from Singin' in the Rain to Shrek, and hundreds of television shows from Dragnet to Duck Tales.


Fran Ryan of The Doris Day Show, Green Acres, Gunsmoke, Days of Our Lives, and more plays wealthy Washington Matron, Mavis Talmadge.


Susan Ruttan, four-time Primetime Emmy nominee as Roxanne Melman on L.A. Law plays a woman in an occult bookstore who knows all about reincarnation. She was Cleopatra.


Henderson Forsythe, Tony winner for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Daytime Emmy nominee as David Stewart on As the World Turns plays Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.


James Noble, Governor Gatling on Benson plays Corinne's long-suffering psychiatrist Dr. Bailey.


Movie trailer:















18 comments:

  1. I love that you reviewed this movie (reviewed it a while back myself) and that its getting more attention as its so often overlooked. Its got a great cast and I adored Robert Downey Jnr in this one and he had a lovely chemistry with both his leading ladies.

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    1. We'll start with the two of us and before long we'll have a Chances Are cult!

      This may have been the first time I saw Downey. The hubby and I caught this as the "extra" film on a night out. We filled out review cards and our comments were all positive. The movie we paid to see was Who is Harry Crumb?, and that was soon forgotten (sorry, John Candy).

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    2. So it’s a modern twist on HERE COMES MR. JORDAN with more romance. That’s what it sounds like, anyway.

      Mary Stuart Masterson looked like she was gonna take off for awhile but it never quite happened. She was good though. I also remember the glut of actresses named either Mary or Maria around this time—and a lot of them had three names too! Maybe she had trouble standing out.

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    3. I always feel that Joe Pendleton got cheated on his deal, despite Mr. Jordan saying it wasn't so. The ending here is more satisfactory for me.

      My dad used to say that if you saw a group of women and said "Hey, Mary", somebody was sure to answer. I think we've just passed through the phase of actresses-named-Kate. And I think they're all blonde. That's the reason I can't watch award shows - nobody wears name tags.

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  2. CYBILL SHEPHERD played a private detective in the TV-Movie STORMY WEATHERS(92). CHARLIE SCHLATTER was also in it. ( I never saw the movie.) We have mentioned Charlie before because we are both fans of DIAGNOSIS MURDER. He was good and likable as DR. JESSE TRAVIS. Today Charlie is 54. He and his wife COLLEEN will be married 26 years on May 7. They have 3 children. So he got married the year before he joined DIAGNOSIS MURDER.

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    1. My husband and I both enjoyed Cybill, Shepherd's sitcom, 1995-1998 that co-starred Christine Baranski.

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  3. Today CHRISTINE BARANSKI turns 68! She won an EMMY (supporting actress in a comedy) for her role on CYBILL.

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    1. I consider myself a Baranski fan, but my husband absolutely loves her.

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  4. Do you and your husband usually like the same kind of comedy shows? Is he a fan of mystery and western shows too?

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    1. He goes for the grittier contemporary stuff while I like the cozier sort of thing. We cross paths for Murdoch Mysteries and Blue Bloods, and on the comedy front for Kim's Convenience and Brooklyn 99.

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  5. Every time I hear the song "Chances Are" I think of this film, even though I've seen it only once, several years ago. Your fab review reminded me I need to see it again – and what on earth have I been waiting for?

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  6. Very underrated comedy! It's deliciously old-fashioned, and has a great cast.

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    1. "Deliciously old-fashioned" is a lovely term to describe Chances Are. And all those familiar faces in support add to that old-timey feeling for me.

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  7. I second that "great cast" thing!

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  8. This gives me nostalgia feels even though I've never seen it.

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    1. Rebecca, that is a perfect description of this charming movei.

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