At a time when the value of human life is sliding down the proverbial slippery slope, one British filmmaker, Peter Mackenzie, is reminding people of the value of each life in a new movie called Doonby. This movie has garnered praise and support from Catholic and Christian leaders worldwide. Doonby also presents the acting debut of Norma McCorvey (alias Jane Roe in Roe vs. Wade) of the Supreme Court Decision legalizing abortion. McCorvey’s character portrays a very different perspective from her earlier days.
Doonby is the 15-year dream child of Peter Mackenzie. Once a leading advertising agency copywriter, he is known for producing and directing over 200 commercials worldwide with accolades. The primary theme in this movie emanates from Mackenzie’s own personal conviction that, “Every life has value and each of us was put on this earth to make a difference.”
The making of Doonby was a family affair for the Mackenzie’s. Peter wrote, directed and produced this film while his son, Mike, served as a co-producer and his other son, Dan, was a cameraman. Peter admits the making of this movie changed his life and deepened his own faith.
A Drifter in a Fallen World
John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard and October Baby) delivers a commanding performance as Sam Doonby, a blues performer and drifter who doesn’t know where he came from; however, he clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, and where he’s going. He shows up in a small town full of broken people—typical in fallen world.
From a single parent who abandons her child for her own desires to those who fall prey to alcoholism, greed, and lust, Doonby zeroes in on everyday people in everyday life. Sam takes a job as a bartender in Leroy’s Bar (Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters), and he finally surmises, “This town is full of crazy people.” He writes these resonating words in his diary, “All of our actions carry a legacy. People act desperately without thinking about the consequences.” Although Sam experiences a life with little or no significance, he is determined “to make a difference.”
A Seasoned Cast
Sam Doonby is somehow always in the right place at the right time to save the day, making one wonder who he is really is. When the town people and his girlfriend, Laura Reaper (Jenn Gotzon who played Tricia Nixon in Frost/Nixon) begin to wonder about his origin and doubt his motives, he disappears. His disappearance leaves them to experience his nonexistence—what life would be like if Sam had never drifted into their town.
It also allows Dr. Reaper (the father of Laura played by Joe Estevez, conservative counterpart to his brother Martin Sheen) to be haunted by his past. Jennifer O’Neill (Summer of ‘42 and Last Ounce of Courage) stars as his wife, and Robert Davi (James Bond villain in License to Kill) plays the police chief who can’t find any record of Sam Doonby’s existence.
Lord David Alton, a prominent political figure in the United Kingdom, deemed this film, “Brilliant cinema,” and helped to arrange a screening with world leaders and high ranking officials from the Vatican. Father Gianfranco Grieco of the pontifical council, called Doonby, “A moving and thought-provoking, psychological thriller with a haunting finale.”
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention warns, “You will leave the theater and think about it numerous times after you’ve seen it.” Although this film is not recommended for children under 12, Dick Rolfe, of the Dove Foundation endorses it saying, “It’s a compelling mystery with a surprise ending that will stun you!” And Peter Roff of U. S. News and World Report predicts it will be, “One of this year’s most talked about films.” It is a mystery with many twists and turns. It’s the kind of movie you’ll want to take your unchurched friends to.
Purpose-Driven not Profit-Driven
Although Doonby hosts a cast of well-known stars, it’s not your typical Hollywood movie written with dollar signs in mind. At a screening in Dallas in 2011, Mackenzie revealed that ten percent of Doonby’s profits will be donated to pro-life charities. A Texas investor, who wishes to remain anonymous, put up the money for the entire film. He admits, “Money was not the reason. I was willing to even take a loss just to save one life.”
The Cameo Debut of Norma McCorvey
Doonby is also not your typical pro-life movie. Mackenzie uses his gift of suspense and storytelling, not preaching, to provoke the audience’s thoughts regarding the value of each life. Peter never dreamed he’d be able to convince Norma McCorvey to be part of the cast. Ironically, divine intervention placed the filming of this movie in her home town.
After a spiritual conversion, McCorvey is now strongly pro-life and regrets the actions of her past. Her part in Doonby is just one more way to showcase her change of heart. She was skeptical at first, but after reading the script, she liked it. McCorvey plays the neighbor, Nancy, who serves as a moral conscience to Sam Doonby’s single mother, Lucy Mae, as she repeatedly reminds her, “Children are a miracle—a gift from God.”
An Impressionistic Classic
Some call Doonby a cross between The Twilight Zone and It’s a Wonderful Life, but those who’ve previewed it agree it is a story that must be seen—a classic. Its surprise ending according to John Schneider, “Is open to interpretation like impressionistic art.” Each person will see it differently. Doonby is scheduled to release in theaters nationwide November 1st.