Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Runaway, the Orphan, and the Stray

An Angel for May on IMDb

Plot Overview

boy and doghour glassboy at windowA thunderstorm interrupts a Hun bombing raid on England in 1941 and a jettisoned bomb interacts with a lightning strike to produce a now & again time portal to a fixed fifty years in the future through the hearth in the stone wall of the destroyed farm­house. Tesla the farm dog takes it in stride this new doggy door emplaced a few days before the hit to come. She does a Lassie manipu­lation to bring disaf­fected 12-year-old Tom Collins (Matthew Beard) home with her from 50 years later.

water balloonsperformance reportdinnerrooster and chickWar-orphan 10-year-old May (Charlotte Wakefield) rescues Tommy from an unpleasant reception by the suspicious natives and brings him to live with her and Tessy in the kennel of kind farmer Sam Wheeler (Tom Wilkinson.) She'd been traumatized by a bombed roof falling on her, and it takes Tommy's friend­ship to bring her out of her shell, so she'll eat in the big house and get made presentable for the doctors' evaluation a couple days hence. Tommy has then to slip away in the night to return to his own time & place after having learned some valuable lessons.


One Way
A Swiss banker in a Bonner book reminded his son
that when you proposed to me to become a citizen of the United States, … I told you that citizen­ship is merely a recognition of abode, of responsibly to pay taxes and to abide by the laws. Waving flags and singing songs and shouts of ‘My country, right or wrong’ are devices used by demagogues to anesthetize the ignorant so that they are led with­out question or thought. One sees a perfect example in the theatrics of Hitler. Sentiment, which is the basic ingredient of loyalty, has only one place—in the family. There it is acceptable, and there alone. Not only is loyalty within the family accept­able, it is an absolute require­ment. Family first; state second. (214)

Tommy has a cozy situation in his new digs where he contributes to the war effort boosting May's morale to keep her out of an institution—where she doesn't belong—freeing a spot for some­one else who would need it more. But his true loyalty is to his own time and situation, whence a sentimental conflict for the guy. And if when he gets back he learns the bombing fate of his 1941 comrades, does he go back to warn them of it, or does he just leave them to their own relentless time­line with­out any back and forth? Can he even get back, and if so, what will his frantic mother say about his adventuring?

childrenThe swan had stretched her neck out and given one of her off­spring a sharp peck, a reminder that it was still under parental command. The old man was right, he thought, discipline never hurt any­one, not even a cygnet. The teachings of Freud and Jung had persuaded young mothers that it was harmful, with the result that his own grand­children had developed like little savages. (Bonner 188–9)

youth at playpenguin on skisThe kid with a penchant for running away is going to be under strict discipline so he can't. And it's for his own good as we'd seen his hostile reception by a raga­muffin gang whose dads were off fighting a war and their moms contributing to a war effort leaving them to fend for them­selves. And yet she'll probably allow him some play time though it will be brief. Enough perhaps to change the past if the butter­fly effect takes off down a slippery slope.


With various couples highlighted, this movie is just loaded with tips about marriage and having a family. Tommy's mother Barbara Collins (Angeline Ball) drove his dad away with her shouting, and now much to Tommy's chagrin she wants to marry a new guy Bob Harris (Hugo Speer) after the divorce is final. This doesn't set well with him but the new couple hope he'll come around. It also disagrees with the apostle Paul who wrote, (1Cor. 7:39) “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth.”

“But if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” We don't have a widow in this movie to apply this to, but we do have a widower Sam whose wife is deceased and for company he proposes to Susan Higgins (Geraldine James) whom he's known a long time. “Only in the Lord” applied to a widow would mean acting less like a wife and more like (1Cor. 7:34) “a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

Applied to a widower it looks more like, (1Cor. 7:29-31) “it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” The engagement occasioned great joy, but considering the times Sam still had to pray soberly.

worshipMay a.k.a. Rosie (Anna Massey) had two outcomes depending on which timeline she followed. In one she was institution­alized for years and turned out a bitter bag lady friend of a big bozo (Bill Rodgers.) In another she continued to be socialized by Christians, married one, and we find her praying in a chapel. We would do well to remember historian J.M. Roberts's assessment, “For all the achievements of Paul and his colleagues, this [spread of Christianity] probably owed less to deliberate evangelization than to contagion and osmosis within the Jewish communities of the empire” (63). “Contagion and osmosis within the community” is the bread and butter of missionary dating, which seems here to have targeted May in the one scenario.

Production Values

” (TV Movie 2002) was directed by Harley Cokeliss. Its screenplay was written by Peter Milligan who adapted it from Melvin Burgess's novel, An Angel For May and tweaked the ending to make it Hollywood jolly good. It stars Tom Wilkinson, Charlotte Wakefield and Matthew Beard. English actors are uniformly well-trained and the ones here are no exception giving consummate performances.

It was certified TV-G. It's family & farm friendly. Runtime is 1 hour 35 minutes. Some experimental PG versions are a bit longer resulting in mislabeled DVDs. The cinema­tog­raphy was out­standing, worthy of a bigger screen. The sound could pass for a telly playing in the background, and the birds chirping could be heard even in a rest home. The time portal special effect was primo.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one was family friendly to the utmost, and Christianity was portrayed in such a positive light that the nigger Vicar could serve to redeem such a sobriquet found in Acts 13:1. I found it very touching as most viewers probably will. I recommend it without reservation.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for all ages. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bonner, Paul Hyde. Excelsior!. Copyright, 1955, by Lilly M. Bonner. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.