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The Runaway

Two boys and a couragous sheriff start to change the racial climate in a rural Georgia town.

Shortly after World War II, this story begins in a small Georgia town. Two boys, probably 13 years old, are best friends. Oddly enough in this time of segregation, one is white and the other black.

Boyish mischief leads them to stumble upon a human skeleton. When the sheriff (Dean Cain) investigates, trouble starts.

Sheriff Richards honestly and doggedly digs into a mystery his predecessor, Sheriff Logan, had helped to cover up. As the town turns against him, he does find some unlikely allies in his pursuit of justice.

It's a captivating story -- not surprisingly making the Hallmark Hall of Fame -- and most of the acting is very believable.

The Runaway
This movie does contain one patently unbelievable element. "Conjure Woman", played by Maya Angelou, shows up at critical points in the story. She's some kind of mix of prophetess, fairy godmother and witchdoctor. She resembles nothing either historical or believable. The story would have been much stronger if the roll had been culled.

She did manage to inject some leftist anti-gun propaganda. She takes the gun that was used in self-defense saying "You won't need that." She urges both boys to work to change the system as they grow up, but what she is condemning by taking this gun is not insurrection but self-defense. Free and equal people do not have to rely on law enforcement for their protection. As Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice attested, many African-Americans of the time found owning a firearm was the only way to live a quiet life unmolested.

We found this movie in the children's section of our library. It is not rated, and I'm sure there are PG movies that are as disturbing or more.

Nonetheless, some discretion is in order. Nothing is graphic, but part of the conflict is driven by repeated rapes. Sonny tells Luke, "She's carrying his baby. He forced her." One woman describes, with appropriate revulsion, how the villain bragged about "colored girls he had been with".

This is not stuff for second graders, but I would not hesitate to show it to high school students.

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