A hapless dramatization of a real-life crime, “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” manages to make truth seem less credible than fiction. Pedestrian handling, a clumsy script and some poor acting from name and local thesps alike squander the story’s potential. Shot in the San Francisco Bay Area, where events originally took place, this self-distributed pic has been gradually rolling out at area hardtops. But it plays like a mediocre telepic, and will be better suited to tube play.
Based on the 1933 kidnapping of Brooke L. Hart, “Valley” has a young department-store heir abducted at gunpoint; ransom demands are made of his parents (Bruce McGill, Diana Scarwid), who set the local sheriff (Tom Bower) and the FBI on the trail. Old-fashioned in all the wrong ways, producer John Miles Murphy’s alternately on-the-nose and convoluted screenplay uses the stock device of a rookie reporter (Gabriel Mann) who pursues the story while romancing the victim’s sis (Emily Harrison). Ham-fisted narration, strained dialogue (“You apricot pit!”) and helmer Tim Boxell’s flat staging undo the proceedings. Tech aspects and ’30s period re-creation are decent given pic’s low budget.