“There he was, the mystery man, he’d come back.”
As he would already have anticipated, Jack’s homecoming is met with cool indifference and extreme scorn by Tom; his wife Sally (Claire Bloom) retains her dignified composure, though she still gets misty eyed thinking of him. Tom has many other demons to battle, the worst being the fact that Gwen (Tess Harper), his wife, is forced to put their home up for sale. Johnny is in rebel mode, a typical teenager who wants to have to do nothing with an old grandparent; he doesn’t realize how he has in common with Jack. He has undoubtedly inherited his streak for adventure and wanderlust -Tom has a difficult time reining in his son’s wild dreams.
Their adversities seem to get the better of them, as their relationships are compromised at the altar of the past. Jack’s decisions of yesteryear haunt the present, and he sees his family’s fabric disintegrate before him - united only in their resentment and scorn. Tom refuses to reconcile with the father he hardly knows, and would rather hold his son close to him - trying hard to keep him from following his dream. Johnny is at loggerheads with his father and girlfriend for wanting to harness him with the cares of the world.
All in all it is the usual family pot boiler, with the mundane frustrations of three generations of Palmers reflecting what most people in life have to face. The ‘blood is thicker than water’ message of the film is obvious, a tear jerker through and through, it is a true blue HBO TV movie, melodramatic and sentimental.
Robert Mitchum is known for his cameo characters, although ‘The Ambassador’ and ‘Promises to Keep’ are two films in which we see him assay the lead roles. Although Mitchum is believed to have commented on the actual purpose of making the film because he ‘…thought it would be good for the family bank account.’ Caring not for the business of the film, but the moolah it rakes in for him and his - Mitchum, in known for his characteristic forthrightness – just believed in the fun he had with the film, that and the er.., bank account bit, of course!