Years back -- and we're talking back in the mid-1980s -- there was a particular movie that got shown a lot on TV. I don't recall if it inundated the local channels, or cable networks, or perhaps a premium channel like Showtime (which I think I maybe possibly might have subscribed to long ago, or not). But I think it was the cable networks. This was one of those low-budget, independent, overly-sweet "family films" called Savannah Smiles, which was made in 1982. And though I never watched it all the way through -- in fact, I have no idea how it starts, and don't think I've even seen the entire first act -- I did tend to watch from the point I'd come across it when it was on. Not because it was such a great movie -- it's not. But for a low-budget, independent, overly-sweet family films, which by all rights should have been treacly and caused diabetes if you watched it only once, it actually was far better than it had any right to be, and while it danced on cliches in every scene, it narrowly avoided them most of the time, and ultimately was reasonably endearing. And in doing research, I was glad to find out that I wasn't alone, nor all that off-base, since it was named "Family Film of the Year" by the Motion Picture Association of America -- which most people know better as the MPAA, the organization which rates movies. But also, I watched it because it had probably half a dozen songs that played throughout the film which were quite good, and I simply enjoyed listening to them, most notably the title song, "When Savannah Smiles." (See! There's the connection to why McCloud reminded me of all this! I knew I'd get to it.) Nothing deeply substantive, but melodic and effective, and especially in the context of the film, fairly touching. In fact, several of the songs got recorded by outside artists and took on lives of their own, including Love Will Never Be the Same Again and Pretty Girl, which apparently is played a lot for the father-daughter dances at weddings. For the record, they were all written by a fellow named Ken Sutherland.
What also intrigued me was that it was a pretty good supporting cast of character actors. Peter Graves, Michael Parks, Pat Morita, and John Fielder (the high-voiced 'Mr. Peterson' on The Bob Newhart Show), among others. The two leads weren't stars in the slightest, Mark Miller and Donovan Scott, and the young girl was Bridgette Andersen. And therein lies a bit of a tale.
Though neither of the two leads were big movie stars, I didn't know much about them, though I recognized Donovan Scott, and I knew that Mark Miller co-wrote the screenplay. But in check out more about them, a few things popped up. I did know Donovan Scott, as I said, and a couple years before he probably got morst recognized playing 'Castor Oyl" (the brother of 'Olive Oyl') in the movie musical version of Popeye with Robin Williams. But it turns out that he's still acting, appearing in the series Somerville only last year. And in the shows Superstore and Days of Our Lives the year before, and Life in Pieces in 2015. But the most bizarre credit popped out when checking his credits -- he has played Santa Claus 16 different times!!! It's not that he looks like Santa, with a big bushy white beard -- in fact, in all the things I've seen him in (including Back to the Future III as a deputy), I've never seen him with a beard. But there you have it.
But the most interesting information I came across was about Mark Miller. It turned out that he had starred in a successful TV series in the mid-1960s, playing the father for three years on Please Don't Eat the Daisies. And while I figured he wrote the screenplay of Savannah Smiles to develop his own one-off project -- it turns out that he has a lot of writing credits. He wrote episodes of The Jeffersons and Diff'rent Strokes -- but most surprising of all is that he co-wrote the movie A Walk in the Clouds, with Keanu Reeves.
Anyway, that's all separate from the point of all this, but I nonetheless found it interesting to round out the story of this a low-budget, independent, overly-sweet family film, that was able to dance on the good side of being merely saccharine and cliche-ridden, and be sweet and reasonably enjoyable.
(The very short version of the plot, as best as I can remember of a movie I've never seen all the way through. A little girl gets lost from her always pre-occupied parents. Two, down-and-out robbers find her and take care of her, and want to return her to the parents, making sure that she won't keep being ignored, but as much as the mortified but well-meaning mother wants her back under any condition, the father is a high-ranking state politician, and doesn't want it known that doesn't pay much attention to his child so the story is put out that the child was kidnapped, and a manhunt is set up to find her.)
And all of that just the deciding to track down a song to post. (Though, as I said, there were several good songs.) Yes, this is a very sweet song. And it's an extremely family-friendly movie. But it's a nice tune, for which I have fond memories, and fit wonderfully in the film.