A hapless dramatization of a real-life crime, "Valley of the Heart's Delight" manages to make truth seem less credible than fiction.

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.

Valley of the Heart's Delight

Production

An Intercontinental Drift presentation of a Banana Peel Entertainment production. Produced by John Miles Murphy. Executive producers, Scott Rosenfelt, B. Billie Greif. Directed by Tim Boxell.

Crew

Camera (color, Sony HD-to-35mm), Hiro Narita; editor, Jay Boekelheide; music, Richard Gibbs, Nicholas O'Toole; production designer, Douglas Freeman. Reviewed at Lumiere Theater, San Francisco, Nov. 17, 2007. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Gabriel Mann, Bruce McGill, Diana Scarwid, Emily Harrison, Tom Bower, Pete Postlethwaite, Joe Mandragona, Ron Rogge, Joe Orrach, Rod Gnapp, David Barth, Bob Greene, Howard Swain, Pete Quartroli, Val Diamond, Geoff Hoyle, Cully Fredricksen, Michael Sommer, Jeffrey Hillard.
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