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Children on Their Birthdays

Playwright-screenwriter Mark Medoff ("Children of a Lesser God") makes a solid directorial debut with "Children on Their Birthdays," an unassuming, charming period piece based on Truman Capote's classic short story about an eventful summer in small-town Alabama, circa 1947. Low-key pic is best suited for family-skewing cable nets.

Playwright-screenwriter Mark Medoff (“Children of a Lesser God”) makes a solid directorial debut with “Children on Their Birthdays,” an unassuming, charming period piece based on Truman Capote’s classic short story about an eventful summer in small-town Alabama, circa 1947. Low-key pic is best suited for family-skewing cable nets.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Bob Murphy (Joe Pichler) develops first major crush of his life when Lily Jane Bobbit (Tania Raymonde) moves into the rooming house next door with her mute mother. Lily Jane is a pretty, self-possessed Southern belle in the making with impeccable manners, and she expects Billy Bob to behave

like a gentleman at all times. But it’s hard for Billy Bob to resist the bad influence of Preacher (Jesse Plemons), his rough-and-ready best friend. And it’s even harder for the youngster to accept budding romance between his war-widowed mother (an atypically wholesome Sheryl Lee) and a gregarious mechanic (Christopher McDonald, also cast against type). Medoff gets fine work from his actors — note Tom Arnold’s amusing oiliness as a grandiloquent con man — and transcends obvious budgetary restraints to enhance pic with evocative period flavor and detail.

Children on Their Birthdays

  • Production: A Crusader Classics presentation of a Frantic Redhead Prods. production in association with Salem Prods. Produced by William J. Immerman, Ginger T. Perkins. Executive producers, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin, Paul Pompian. Directed by Mark Medoff. Screenplay, Douglas Sloan, based on a story by Truman Capote.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Steven Shaw; editor, Sidney Levin; production designer, Gary Baugh; art director, Angel Acosta. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, March 23, 2002. (In WorldFest Film Festival, Houston.) Running time: 102 MIN.
  • With: <B>With:</B> Joe Pichler, Tania Raymonde, Jesse Plemons, Christopher McDonald, Sheryl Lee, Tom Arnold.
  • Music By: