Thursday, June 5, 2008
No movie (TV or Film), to this day, has ever affected me as deeply as the 1976 TV movie "Sybil", staring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward. Although, "Sophie's Choice" and "Ordinary People" follow closely behind.
But, "Sybil" is THE one.
I remember watching it when I was much younger and being rivited by Sally Field's performance. I had grown up loving her on "The Flying Nun" and was so surprised to see my Sister Bertrille suddenly disappear and dissolve into this sad, tortured woman with multiple personalities. It was a two-part "Television Event" (they did those back then) and, after watching the whole thing...I immediately bought the book and read it.
Sally Field's gut-wrenching performance still brings me to tears all of these years later. She certainly deserved the Best Actress Emmy that year (1977) and, had it been a feature film, she would likely have received an Oscar.
When the movie went into syndication and would replay very late at night, I used to stay up to try and record the full version (almost 4 hours) without commericals on my VCR, but it was often so chopped up, that saving a pristine copy was almost impossible (no matter how expertly I had mastered the "pause-record" maneuver on my remote). There was a video version available, but it had been cut down to two hours, almost half of the film had been edited out....not good.
Then, a couple of years ago, Warner Bros. finally released a 20th Anniversary edition with the full version intact and I bought it the day of its release. The film looked and sounded great, although visually dated when compared to how things are filmed today (with fancy cinematography, editing and smooth scene transitioning), but the performances held up just as they originally did.
When I read that a remake was being filmed with Jessica Lange as Dr. Wilbur and Tammy Blanchard as Sybil, I was very apprehensive. The original was so impactful and well-acted that it just seemed wrong to attempt to remake it. Especially since, historically, remakes often suck (Nora Ephron and Sony Pictures have secured a condo in Hell for their remake of the perfectly cast, yet magic and joy-free, "Bewitched").
This "Sybil" remake was filmed almost two years ago and I've been watching for it to air since. I just found out today that it will be airing on CBS this Saturday night at 8:00.
My fears appear to be coming true. As I dug a little deeper into this non-TV event, I found that CBS.com doesn't have any kind of promotion for it on their site. The move is only two hours long, there are only a couple photos even available online and the few reviews out there, at this point, are not very good.
As much as I'm dreading this remake, I'm going to watch it. I'm sure it'll be another interpretation of the book, which is fine. But, when a major network has a property with this kind of history and then does nothing to promote it...it doesn't bode well.
It's a very bad marketing decision on their part.
No matter how it turned out, they missed an opportunity to use the hype from the original to build an awareness campaign for the remake. A monkey could have created a better marketing plan for the film in exchange for a banana and a juicebox.
It makes no sense.
But, my heart will always be with the original. If you have a chance to watch or buy the 20th Anniversary DVD of the original "Sybil" with Sally Field...do it.
It's still a very haunting performace by a "TV actress" who was, at the time, just known for flying around the convent San Tanco or Gidgeting her way across the beaches of California.
It altered Sally Field's entire career forever and, I'll wager, the movie will stay with you for that long too.
I found this "Sybil" montage and I really like the song choice...