THE DISAPPEARANCE OF VONNIE
The true story of a woman's relentless pursuit of justice to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her sister, Corrine Kaczmarek (Ann Jillian) believes that her sister has been murdered by her sister's husband, Ron Rickman (Joe Penny). When she starts digging up Rickman's past, she discovers a trail of suspicious secrets.
Without a body, murder weapon or an eyewitness, Corrine builds a convincing case of murder against Rickman. The ensuing landmark case set new precedents in the judicial system.
Television Review of The Disappearance of Vonnie
September 27, 1994
By Tony Scott
Filmed in Vancouver by Morrow/ Heus Prods. and TriStar TV. Exec producers, Richard Heus, Barry Morrow, coexec producer, Paul A. Kaufman; producer, Joel S. Rice; director, Greame Campbell; writer, Ellen Weston; camera, Richard Leiterman; editor, Millie Moore; art director, Jim Cordeiro, music, Richard Bellis.
Cast: Ann Jillian, Joe Penny, Mm Zimmer Robert Wisden, Graham Beckel, AIexandra Purvis, Gerry Chalk, Alicia Witt, Travis MacDonald, Jerry Wasserman, Gabrielle Miller, Robert Clothier, Marlowe Dean, Aidan Pendle. ton, Jennifer Meyer, Tom Butler, Lorena Gale, Nathaniel Deveaux, Kate Robbins, Dave Cameron, Robin Douglas, Eric Keenleyside, Fulvio Cecere, Alan Buckley, Curtis Bechdholtt, Trish Allen, Don Thompson, Oliver Hooker, Roger R. Cross, Celine Lockhart, Rhys Huber, Victoria Brooks.
Crime drama by Ellen Weston, based on a true case, gives Ann Jillian, as Corrine Kaczmarek, a good shot at a semi-scary mystery, and she comes through with honors. The flat spots along the way, also thanks to Weston's teleplay, leave questions dangling, but Jillian and director Greame Campbell plunge right ahead; the vidpic's a sure crowd-gatherer.
Right off the bat, viewers know that Ron Rickman (played cunningly by Joe Penny) has just been released from a mental hospital. Jump forward five years, and Ron meets Corrine's sister Vonnie (Kim Zimmer). Seven years later, Vonnie and Ron are married and raising daughter Amy (Alexandra Purvis). He spends a lot of time instructing a police program for teenagers, and Vonnie's taken to drink; it's never clear how good Vormie's character really is.
The sisters are close, even live across the street from each other, and Corrine sees how Ron neglects Vonnie and Amy. Vonnie, knowing nothing of Ron's past, vanishes without a word to Corrine.
Corrine, not buying a story Ron tells about the disappearance, starts her quest to find out what happened to her sister. Ron, still training teens in police methods, has a cadet, Janine (Alicia Witt), at his house taking care of Amy.
Vidpic stacks the deck against Ron, presumably because of the outcome in real life. Viewers could wonder how guilty he is There's no body, no evidence. After establishing that he was I once put away in a mental house for killing two men, the script never says anything about Ron's early life. Even his relationship with Janine is suspect until the right dramatic moment.
Hedged in by reality, the drama lacks answers to such questions. But Jillian gives an earnest, successful perf, and Penny works staunchly and believably through his mad charmer role. Zimmer's Vonnie is strong, and Witt is terrif as Janine.
Filmed in Vancouver, vidpic looks lovely, and tech credits are solid.
The Disappearance of Vonnie
September 22, 1994
By Dorothy Rabinowitz
This saga, the dramatization of a real life wife's mysterious disappearance, concerns a case that supposedly set legal precedent. More interesting than the precedents, though, are the performances. Joe Penny, as an exceedingly creepy charmer, and Ann Jillian, as his outraged sister-in-law and nemesis, together contrive to make this standard television quite palatable.
The Dissappearance of Vonnie
September 26, 1994
"This thing is taking over our lives," complains an exasperated Wisconsin man Graham Beckel). His wife (Ann Jillian) is totally obsessed with finding her sister Vonnie (Kim Zimmer), who disappeared on a shopping trip somewhere between Appleton and Green Bay. At any rate that's the story the missing woman's husband (Joe Penny) tells. But it turns out that Penny spent years in a hospital for the criminally insane for murdering two men. (Actually we viewers knew about this blemish on his resume from the opening scene.)
This is a routine, factbased movie except in one regard: Zimmer, a long time standout on such soaps as Guiding Light, brings remarkable vitality and in genuity to what is essentially a throw away role. Somebody please get this woman a series. Grade: B