A scary TV-movie memory and more movie questions answered

Question: Years ago, when I was very young, I remember watching a movie on television that featured a boy who took up residence in a hollowed-out redwood tree. All I can remember is how neat I thought that was and I've always wanted to watch that movie again but have no idea what the title is. Could you help? - jshrewsberry

FlickChick: It sounds to me as though you're remembering The Enchanted Forest (1945), in which elderly, nature-loving recluse John (Harry Davenport), who lives in a hollow redwood tree, finds a baby that's survived a train crash and brings him up in the forest.

Apparently this film used to be on television all the time, but has now dropped out of circulation. It has a significant cult following made up both of people who loved it as a child - John the hermit can talk to the woodland animals, which is the kind of thing I certainly loved when I was kid - and of those who appreciate its message about living in harmony with nature and respecting the environment, which was seriously forward thinking for a film made at the tail end of WWII. It's available on video, but has not yet been put out on DVD.

Question: OK, you've put names to two of my scariest childhood memories... Crowhaven Farm (best made-for-TV movie ever) and the horribly disturbing Something Wild (so creepy, and what the heck was it doing on when small children could watch?!).

Now let's see if you can help me put the name to a made-for-TV movie that kept me up a couple of nights in a row. I thought it was called "The Hand of Mary Constantine," but I can't find anything about it. A woman has lost her daughter (in a car accident, I think) and thinks the girl is haunting her, culminating in a spooky arm/hand, complete with her daughter's finger prints, left in an aquarium. It turns out she's not being haunted but driven crazy by someone, for reasons I cannot remember.

Can you fill in the blanks... and the actual name of the movie? Thanks. - TaMara


FlickChick: The movie's title is Daughter of the Mind (1969), but you must have been a credits-reading youngster, because it's based on the novel The Hand of Mary Constable, by prolific writer Paul Gallico (1897-1976) - his credits range from The Poseidon Adventure to Thomasina: The Cat Who Thought She Was God, which was filmed as The Three Lives of Thomasina, one of my favorite movies when I was a small, cat-loving child.

Daughter of the Mind was directed by Walter Grauman, who made Crowhaven Farm the following year, and revolves around scientist Samuel Constable (Ray Milland), who specializes in the field of cybernetics. He and his invalid wife (Gene Tierney) lose their 10-year-old daughter Mary in a car accident, and some months later he sees the child on a lonely road. Her ghost seems to be haunting him, telling him that the high-security government research he's doing is wrong. But is it really a ghost, or is it an effort to derail his work?

The hand-in-the-fish-tank scene appears to have spooked the hell out of a lot of viewers, and I vividly remember Daughter of the Mind showing on the much-loved 4:30 Movie in New York. The bad news is that it's not commercially available on commercial VHS or DVD, but it looks as though there are bootlegs floating around online.

Question: Please help me find the name of an old movie. I don't have much information: It was B&W and involved a number of soldiers who were in the war together - I think it was WWI, but it may have been WWII. They make an agreement that the last surviving member of the group would drink a special bottle of wine or liquor - the storyline was sort of like the M*A*S*H episode where Colonel Potter has the last bottle. I know this isn't much, but thanks in advance if you can give me some hints or a name. - Jim

FlickChick: First, I have to confess that I have no idea what the movie you remember is. But I do know what a group agreement of this kind is called. It's a "tontine," a term that dates back to 17th-century France and figures into the M*A*S*H episode "Old Soldiers," to which you refer.

In its most traditional sense, a tontine is a group investment: Each participant pays in a certain amount and receives dividends; when an investor dies, the dividends are divided equally among the survivors; the last man (or woman) standing gets everything. The name comes from an Italian-born, French-based banker named Lorenzo de Tonti, who either came up with this variation on the standard investment pool or merely popularized it. But it can also be a group agreement with some kind of non-monetary payoff - say, the M*AS*H episode's bottle of brandy - at the end.

Curiously, M*A*S*H cocreator Larry Gelbart wrote the screenplay for The Wrong Box (1966), a dark comedy involving a tontine adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

As you can imagine, the tontine has figured into many mystery stories - the thing might as well have been invented as a motive for murder - as well as episodes of The Wild Wild West ("Night of the Tottering Tontine"), Barney Miller ("The Tontine") and The Simpsons ("The Curse of the Flying Hellfish").

But I'm counting on my readers to help out in naming the movie Jim is looking for!

Question: There is a movie about a Mexican teenager who gets pregnant and has to sell drugs to make money.... I remember at the end she's at the airport. Please help me figure out this movie's title! - Nancy C.

FlickChick: I'd say you're looking for Maria Full of Grace (2004), which earned first-time actress Catalina Sandino Moreno an Oscar nomination for her performance as a 17-year old Colombian girl who agrees to work as a mule for a local drug dealer.