THE PROMISE - AMC Academy, AMC Skyline, Capri, Springfield Mall, Tysons Twin and White Flint.
Promise Them Anything But Give Them Corn could be the motto of many romantic pictures, but "The Promise" promises corn, and then can't deliver.
"It's fun being corny, isn't it?" asks the hero during the exchange of such ideas as "We don't need a piece of paper to tell us how we feel," "We were two souls destined to meet," "Can you stay my friend and be my husband?" and "Bury her - the unburied dead are dangerous things." The man can't walk into his own house without his mother's shouting "Home is the hunter!"
This is canned corn. Real corn, an excess of unimaginative romanticism, can occasionally be fun - if there is something recognizable on which all that butter is then poured. The staple in "The Promise" never grew anywhere. It's a synthetic product, a hybrid of two successful corny movies, "Love Story" and "Heaven Can Wait."
From "Love Story" comes the idea of true love interrupted but not ended by death, and from "Heaven Can Wait" there's the gimmick of lovers who meet again but cannot recognize one another. Not that either idea was orginal with either film, God knows, but the ripoffs get greedier-looking each time.
Then there's the glue that holds these two gimmicks together in "The Promise": A young couple are in a car crash on the way to their wedding, and the woman's face is smashed. This mother, who opposed the marriage because - are you ready for this? - she feels that the bride's dead father's prison record will taint the reputation of her architectural firm, pays for reconstructing the face on the understanding that the woman will take it away forever. The young man is inconsolable until the accidentally meets and falls in love with the same girl, whom he doesn't recognize until - but that's enough. Shoddy goods.
There is one appropriate acting job, which is Kathleen Quinlan as the heroine. She never moves so much as an eyelid, a bit of characterization that seems sensible for someone whose face cost $100,000 and a marriage. CAPTION: Picture, KATHLEEN QUINLAN IS THE HEROINE - HERE AFTER PLASTIC SURGERY - IN "THE PROMISE."