3 February 2006 | Trampyre
As a devotee of Ms. Frank, I remember being so excited that the play was being re-made for TV. That is, until I saw it... This film is a prime example of how IMPORTANT casting is, and how directing plays such an important part in creating the sense of purpose. The casting of any CENTRAL role is CRUCIAL to a production of this sort...shows like AUNTIE MAME and MAN OF LA MANCHA are totally dependent on the charisma of the lead actor. And in the cast of this movie, the whole thing is destroyed by the atrocious casting of Melissa Gilbert in the lead role. There is not ONE SINGLE MOMENT that Ms. Gilbert even comes close to inhabiting the sensitive, mature spirit of Anne- Ms. Gilbert is "white-bread" throughout the movie... the only time I was close to tears was during the reading of Anne's most haunting line: "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart"- this is spoken by Ms. Gilbert so rushed, so lacking in conviction, that she might has well burped and achieved the same effect. Film and dance legend Marge Champion was the dialogue coach for this production- she should have refunded her salary! Despite Ms. Gilbert ruining DIARY, other performances are satisfactory for the most part- special kudos to Joan Plowright as Edith, Scott Jacoby as Peter and Clive Reville as Mr. Dussell. Maxmillian Schell does not have the deep-rooted soul and spirit as Otto as does the creator of the role on stage and film(Joseph Schildkraut), but he's okay. Doris Roberts and James Coco as The Van Danns are relatively superficial in their parts- they're shrill and bombastic, but again, only on the surface. This COULD be due to the fact that the pacing of the project is way too rushed(as noted in previous postings)- this film clocks in 45 minutes shorter than the film version- the difference owing to the pauses for dramatic effect, which apparently is necessary to propagate the appropriate MOOD for the story. This is NOT mandatory viewing, especially for youngsters learning about Anne Frank for the first time- stick to the original film version, and or even better, the TV production of ANNE FRANK: THE TRUE STORY starring Ben Kingsley, which is the CLOSEST thing to capturing the heartbreak and reality of Anne's situation ever filmed! Note: Especially appalling is the fact that Melora Marshall, who plays Anne's sister Margot, is NOT included in the opening credits along with all the other members of The Secret Annex... she's listed in the post-credits along with the actors playing Miep and Mr. Kraler. If I was Ms. Marshall, I would have SUED!