Oprah Winfrey’s TV production of the huge bestseller is undoubtedly gripping, telling the story of sports writer Mitch Albom who led a very busy life where nothing mattered more than his job; everything changed the day when he met his old college teacher again, who was dying of A.L.S. This was Jack Lemmon’s last leading part and that fact may have added to the sadness of his performance. In any case, he is absolutely marvelous and Hank Azaria valiantly tries to match him. A cynic might say that the story has nothing but clichés that simplify serious issues, but the film is made in an obviously tender and loving way.
1999-U.S. Made for TV. 100 min. Color. Produced by Kate Forte, Oprah Winfrey. Directed by Mick Jackson. Teleplay: Tom Rickman. Novel: Mitch Albom. Cast: Jack Lemmon (Morrie Schwarz), Hank Azaria (Mitch Albom), Wendy Moniz (Janine), Caroline Aaron, Bonnie Bartlett.
Emmys: Outstanding TV Movie, Actor (Lemmon), Supporting Actor (Azaria).
Last word: “Working with Jack Lemmon was a tremendous learning experience. I asked him a lot about acting. It was actually very moving when I realized halfway through shooting that… Jack actually was quite ill when he shot that, so I think that’s why the material spoke to him so much.” (Azaria, A.V. Club)