Corny, corny, corny! But “A Thousand Men and a Baby” will pull in that CBS “Touched By an Angel” crowd no prob-lemo, drawing on the appeal of stars Gerald McRaney, exhibit-ing gruff charm, and Richard Thomas, doing the John Boy thing. Plus the cutest baby of all the holiday season telepics. “Baby” is based on real events, and it’s easy to see why this heartwarming tale should find a place as a TV movie.
At the end of the Korean War, an Amerasian baby is found at the doorstep of a military supply depot. He’s named “Danny,” after the seaman who found him, and the sick foundling is taken to an orphanage. But because of his mixed race, Korean nurses won’t take care of him, so the doctor of the USS Point Cruz (Thomas) brings him on board for treatment.
The baby lifts the spirits of the ship’s crew, and Danny is quickly adopted as its mascot. Thomas and his wife (Eve Gordon), have suffered two miscarriages, and become attached to the moppet.
Meanwhile, one of the sailors gives a reporter the story about the baby, and thousands of letters start pouring in, all seeking to adopt Danny. Meanwhile, Tho-mas faces a professional crisis: In order for him to adopt Danny, he must resign his naval commis-sion. It’s a no brainer.
The kindly but stern McRaney, as the ship’s captain, also has to deal with bending naval — and immigration — rules and regulations to get little Danny to the U.S.
This is cornball entertainment at its worst. Ironically, given the subject matter, it lacks heart, and much of the blame lays squarely at the feet of scripter Richard Leder, who gives his characters simplistic dialogue like “Yeah! It seems like Danny’s the reason we fought the war!” Helmer Marcus Cole lets most of the actors chew up the scenery, except for pros McRaney and Thomas, who keep things a bit grounded.
Unfortunately, as the end credits roll, actual pictures of the real Danny and his adoptive dad and mom, and the crew of the Point Cruz, are shown, and those photos convey all the poignance this telepic misses.
Tech credits are all pro.