Resting Place (1986) John Lithgow, Richard Bradford, Morgan Freeman, G.D. Spradlin, CCH Pounder Movie Review

Resting Place (1986)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Morgan Freeman and CCH Pounder in Resting Place (1986)

Dead but not Buried

Maj. Kendall Laird (John Lithgow - Santa Claus) has the difficult job of escorting a coffin back to the town of Rockville to where Ada (CCH Pounder - Orphan) and Luther Johnson (Morgan Freeman - Attica) are waiting to bury their son, who died in combat in Vietnam. It doesn't take long for Maj. Laird to realise what the Johnson's are up against in Rockville as it is still very much a segregated town where despite having purchased a burial plot for their son in the cemetery are told to take their son to the other side of town where the black grave yard is. Determined to make sure lieut. Johnson gets the respect and burial he deserves Laird seeks out the men he served with to learn more about him and the day he saved their lives so he can write an article for Rockville local press. What Maj. Laird discovers is the caginess of the men and some inconsistencies when it came to what really happened to Johnson making him suspicious that there is a military cover up going on.

There is one thing you can certainly say about "Resting Place" and that is some thought has gone in to delivering a storyline which develops. By that I mean we start off with a scenario of a town which despite it being the 1970s is still segregated. But whilst the back story to all this is of course racism we are also shown a situation where there are those from both communities who don't want to rock the boat and fear that doing so would cause the unrest which famously happened in another town during the 60s. It is an interesting set up where we have this mix of set in their ways racism, those wanting peace by not rocking the boat but also those who see it is time for the town to break free from the traditions.

Frances Sternhagen and John Lithgow in Resting Place (1986)

But from this storyline of town segregation "Resting Place" develops another storyline as Maj. Laird tries to get information of what sort of man lieut. Johnson was only to discover there is a cover up going on when it comes to what happened on the day he died. I won't go in to the details of what happened but will say that unsurprisingly there is a racial angle to what Laird discovers but it is more complex than just a case of racism and there is an element of Laird dealing with his own conscience when it comes to doing the right thing but in doing so maybe tarnishing the name of a good man.

Now there are a lot of positives to be said about "Resting Place" with a lot of good performances led by John Lithgow who brings out the emotion of Laird who wants to do right by the Johnsons but also the conflict he has when it comes to suspecting there is a military cover up at work. But there are some negatives and whilst I am a fan of TV movies I believe that maybe the limitations of time and budget robbed this of really achieving the depth which both parts of the storyline deserved. Basically there are scenes such as when Laird is trying to talk to the men which feels like it has been filmed in such a way to cut corners.

What this all boils down to is that "Resting Place", for a TV movie, is good as it has a well through out storyline which splits into two elements. It also has some decent acting with a cast who have tried to deliver characters rather than just a performance. But there are times when it feels the limitations of being a TV movie prevents this from being the great movie it could have been.