For all its beautiful scenery, "Cry From the Mountain" (citywide) is not really a wilderness adventure but a portrait of a typical American family in crisis.
Anchorage businessman Wes Parker has taken his 10-year-old son (Chris Kidd) on a camping trip with the express purpose of informing him as gently as possible that he and the boy's mother (Rita Walter) are divorcing. Kidd is stunned, yet is aware, as so many children seem to be about their parents' clandestine activities, that Parker has been seeing another woman--a blond receptionist (Allison Argo) at his office.
Events change course, however, when Parker suffers a severe concussion in a boating accident and father and son receive help from nice old codger James Cavan, who may be a hermit but has access to Billy Graham's radio ministry ("That ol' Billy Graham sure comes up with some good stuff!" he exclaims).
And sure enough, "Cry From the Mountain" is another film from Graham's World Wide Pictures. Uplift is always easy to deride, but once again Graham's skillful house director James F. Collier commands respect for the sincerity and conviction with which he puts the message across.
(Considering that Collier seems always obliged to work in an actual Graham sermon at some point in every film, it's amazing that his pictures don't seem more contrived than they do.) Certainly, many marriages suffer from self-absorption and spiritual malaise, and when Graham advocates Christ as the answer in his sermon, he speaks to the point. Writer David L. Quick does create believable people in an all-too-familiar predicament, but the film raises the question of abortion without really dealing with it (Walter is pregnant just as she's decided to divorce).
The real fascination in "Cry From the Mountain" is more cultural than spiritual. The capable cast is attractive in an ordinary white, American middle-class way and the family lives in an attractive, costly but ordinary tract home--in short, like many in the real-life audience seen at Graham's Alaska crusade. (So few minorities are in attendance that the film makers seem compelled to pick them out with the camera.)
There's no question that Graham is a potent communicator, and if you approach "Cry From the Mountain" (rated PG for dealing with divorce and intimations of adultery) with an open mind--and happen to be a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (backsliding or otherwise)--you may come away surprised that it has affected you as much as it has.
With it is Mike Hoover's 14-minute Oscar-winning short, the ironically titled "UP," about the dire fate of an Icarus-like hang glider. It's a curious choice for a companion film.
'CRY FROM THE MOUNTAIN' A World Wide Pictures presentation. Producer William F. Brown. Director James F. Collier. Screenplay David L. Quick. Camera Gary D. Baker. Music J.A.C. Redford. Production designer/film editor J. Michael Hooser. Costumes M. Butler. Associate producer Jerry Ballew. With James Cavan, Wes Parker, Rita Walter, Chris Kidd, Coleen Gray, Jerry Ballew, Allison Argo, Allen Alsworth, Myrna Kidd.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.
MPAA rating: PG (parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children).