"The Promise of Love," tonight's CBS movie at 9, is a multi-hanky item starring Valerie Bertinelli, the aging nymphet of the television series "One Day at a Time."
Bertinelli plays a recent high-school graduate who marries her Marine lieutenant boyfriend and goes off to live in young nuptial bliss at Camp Pendelton. He is sent to Vietnam three months later, and is killed three months after that. She learns to live again, helped partly by a devilishly cute recreation center director (Jameson Parker) who gives her a job teaching swimming and a brief romance.
The tears flow. When the "condolence car" pulls up to bring her the bad news, when her parents come to console her, at the funeral when they hand her the folded flag -- weepers will find prime material in this movie.
But tears do not a movie make. Once we stop sniffling, what have we got? Not much. Bertinelli, who appears to have put on a little weight, does a fine job as the young widow -- but the character is not very interesting.
She's a fairly typical American high schooler circa 1967, someone who says she never had any troubles in life but "just moved from one thing to the next," who has never faced anything more difficult than a pimple on prom night. Why should we care about her, other than the normal compassion one feels for a vulnerable person who's sad? Her neighbor, for example, (Shelly Long) a stalwart mother of two whose husband is also off at the war, is a far more complex character, an uncomplaining sort who keeps her sense of humor and caring during a most difficult time. Her story would have been more worthwhile than this ultimately banal story that is essentially a vehicle for a promising actress. And stay away from the cannoli, Valerie.