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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: July 17, 2015.

If you’re looking for a movie that will keep you intrigued, enthralled, and captivated, Peter Mackenzie’s powerful film Doonby is a sure bet. Not only will you be trying to guess the inevitable twist, (I promise you won’t see it coming), you’ll fall in love with well-rounded characters and have your heartstrings pulled as you relate to some of Doonby’s obstacles.

Sam Doonby (John Schneider) is irresistibly charming in his role as a “no-good drifter,” who catches a bus to Smithville, Texas, a small town where your business is public knowledge and a stranger catches the attention of every citizen. Schneider plays the role with finesse and sensitivity which contrasts beautifully with his tough circumstances and rugged good looks.

John Schneider in the lead role of Sam Doonby

Doonby takes a job as a bartender at Leroy’s, owned by Leroy (Ernie Hudson), where he meets Jolene (Brandi Bevins) the sassy barkeep, Tony (Will Wallace) the local musician trying to catch a break, and Laura (JennGotzen) who dazzles Doonby with her smart-alecky nature and sophisticated good looks. Gotzon fans will not be disappointed as she gives one of the most compelling performances of her career showing an impressive range of emotional depth, quirky humor and passion.

Will Wallace’s rich portrait of a nice guy gone sideways adds tension and suspense to a dynamic ensemble performance.

Will Wallace plays Tony in Doonby; Courtesty of The Nobody Film Co.


Jenn Gotzon and John Schneider in Doonby: Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

While going to a new town means a fresh shot at life, trouble followed Doonby like a shadow. His presence sparks fierce jealousy in Tony, a popular musician at the local bar. The sheriff also becomes particularly suspicious of Doonby after a string of odd crimes occur, although not all directly related to Doonby’s presence.

While Sam Doonby remains the hero in these situations, there is something amiss that you can’t quite put your finger on, even after the movie is over.

My one complaint with Doonby – it wasn’t long enough!  The writing is great – there is intrigue and plot twists at every turn.

Jenn Gotzon and John Schneider in Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

Another aspect that Doonby does well is trigger emotion. From the very beginning, you’ll feel invested in the characters. Even Sam at one point mentions, “This town is full of crazy people.” And he’s right.

The flashbacks to Sam’s mother Lucy Mae (Erin Way), help fill in the pieces to Sam’s mysterious past. But it isn’t until the end that you see how his coming to Smithville, and reuniting with someone from the past, is not a total coincidence. May gives a stand out performance in this role that will rip your heart out  and leave you breathless as she battles to make a decision that no mother should ever have to make.

Erin Way plays Lucy Mae in Doonby; Photo Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

Erin Way with Michael Hampson Ray in Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

Mackenzie has written a brilliant and riveting story that focuses on the importance of every single life and the effect we all have on those around us. We come to appreciate life’s preciousness in a new way, as a bizarre twist in the final scenes ties the whole film together resulting in a “butterfly-effect” type tale.


Peter Mackenzie directing on the set of Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

Jenn Gotzon distressed as Laura Reaper in Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

Biblical Worldview:

There’s plenty of mystery, intrigue, and romance to make Doonby a film for everyone, but with a couple of “anticipated-violent” scenes, and a come-hither moment when Jolene tries to seduce Sam, it’s not a movie appropriate for small children.

She crawls into his bed and undresses, beckoning him to join her. While she remains covered, there’s no shamelessness for her actions. However, the redeeming quality with Jolene’s forwardness is that Sam refuses, which brings up a teachable moment for pre-teens and teens.

Sam’s place of employment is the local bar, but you won’t find “girls-gone-wild” type of scenes in Doonby. Laura drinks quite a bit, and has an episode later when she goes on a strange drinking binge during a fight with Sam. Since her drinking doesn’t define her character, her tilt towards alcoholism is not addressed.

The Blind Harmonica Player in Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.


Robert Davi as the Sherriff in Doonby; Photo Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co

There are plenty of times when God is mentioned, although none of the characters are overly spiritual. Sam seems to be an upstanding guy, not sleeping with his girlfriend Laura, and not succumbing to the advances of Jolene.

In the opening flashbacks, we see his mother’s struggle with wanting to be a good mother, and making more out of her life than a small town girl with no options.

John Scheider and Jenn Gotzon on the set of the film Doonby; Photo Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.

In a real life divine twist of fate, Mackenzie was able to cast Norma McCorvey to be play a key role in the film. McCorvey better known by the legal pseudonym “Jane Roe”, was the plaintiff in the landmark American lawsuit Roe v. Wade in 1973.

As Editor at Large, Ginny Dent Brant reported in her SCH interview with director Peter Mackenzie, “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.”

Norma McCorvey as the watchful neighbor in Doonby; Courtesy of The Nobody Film Co.


Biblical Discussion

Every action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, matters. Our choices have actions that spread further than we can ever imagine.

Because of Doonby’s phenomenal twist, and without giving away any spoilers, some questions to discuss with your family can revolve around the topics of:

  • Selfishness—How do Lucy Mae’s actions define who Sam becomes? Does our selfishness have long-term affects as well?
  • Integrity—When placed in a compromising situation, how should we respond?
  • Self-control—How does resisting temptation build our character? Who in the movie could have changed the outcome if he/she had demonstrated more self-control?


Click here to watch the mysterious trailer for Doonby – Official Trailer

Check out the SCH exclusive interview by Ginny Dent Brant  Doonby A Thought-Provoking Classic – This Generation’s It’s A Wonderful Life

To learn more about Doonby, visit ChristianFilmDatabase

3 Responses

  1. Cora Melvin

    The movie DOONBY seems to be a very good movie, such as I’ve read, I will watch it soon as I get a chance to do so.


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