Say “Cheese” 006 – Second Sight: A Love Story (1984)

This past Christmas my son got me a Mill Creek box set called Awesomely Cheesy Movies. 100 movies on 24 disks, it’s actually a combination of two of their earlier released sets, “The Swinging Seventies”, and “The Excellent Eighties”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these Mill Creek sets, they are generally comprised of  public domain or made-for-television movies that are reproduced without embellishment, enhancement, or extras and are sold in large collections for very low prices. This means that the quality on them can be quite variable, and they often show signs of age and wear. Nonetheless, there are often hidden gems amongst what can be large swaths of dross.

Anyway, I’ve decided to wend my way through this collection, starting with the first movie on the first disk of the 70s collection, then the first movie in the 80s set, then back to the 70s, and so on, and see just what turns up. If nothing else, it should be interesting. Come along, won’t you?

Loathe though I am to admit it, there was at least one tear forcibly jerked from my eyes during Second Sight: A Love Story.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened.

Elizabeth Montgomery is probably not someone known to my younger readers unless they are fans of old sitcoms. Those of you in my generation, however, will immediately recognize Montgomery as Samantha, the witch who married a mortal man in the classic Bewitched. Even through the change from Dick York to Dick Sargent as her husband Darrin, Montgomery remained the charming center of the series.

(By the way, someday I will write about both Bewitched and the similarly themed I Dream of Jeannie as representative of the concept of women being constrained by the men in their lives to hide their inner powers in order to not disrupt the “normalcy” of their suburban settings, but that’s an essay for another time.)

Anyway, after Bewitched was finally cancelled in 1972, rather than trying to find a new sitcom home, Montgomery instead turned her talents to TV films where she could greatly expand her range and show more of her true talent. Starring in such acclaimed movies as A Case of Rape and The Legend of Lizzie Borden, the actress proved that she had much more talent than she had previously had the opportunity to show.

In Second Sight, Montgomery plays Alexandra McKay, a woman who has been blind for more than twenty years. Over the years she has learned not only to be incredibly self-sufficient, but has built up a number of walls to keep herself both from what she perceives as the pity of others and from her own emotional pain.For Alexandra, letting anyone see what she is really going on with her is a sign of weakness

Into her highly regulated life comes Richard Chapman who manages to begin to break down her defenses and attempts to convince her that he loves her despite her disability.

Once Alexandra begins to open herself to new possibilities, she takes a further step that she has been long resisting – she agrees to try getting a guide dog.

This leads to a very interesting section of the film where Alexandra must spend four weeks living at the International Guiding Eyes school learning how to interact with her new companion, a blonde lab named Emma. The movie does a good job of showing that Alex needs to be trained as much as Emma and that the bond of trust must go both ways.

Eventually, the possibility arises of a surgery that might be able to restore Alexandra’s sight. However, despite the fact that she has already made such drastic changes in her life, she is understandably reluctant to make this drastic step, especially considering that her father ha a horrifying experience losing his sight completely due to surgeries that he underwent.

Compounding her anxiousness is the bond that she has established with Emma and what regaining her sight might mean to her relationship with her canine best friend thus adding an extra layer to the movie’s subtitle – this is not just the story of the love between a man and a woman, but also of a woman for her dog.

What sets Second Sight apart from such PSA style dreck as Intimate Agony (which is what I feared I was in for before watching the movie) is the performance of Elizabeth Montgomery, She does an excellent job of portraying both the inner and outer conflicts Alexandra is facing, allowing her innate charm to come through despite the character’s initial prickly nature.

Up Next: The Swinging 70s  Disk 1 Movie 4: The Klansman – Who would believe All-American OJ Simpson might have raped a white woman?

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