Family Movies Part 5 – The Secret
Like Not Broken, the 1992 TV movie The Secret by Karen Arthur also deals with a child’s struggle with dyslexia.
Danny Dunmore (Jesse R. Tendler) is a 9-year-old boy who is great at baseball, but really struggles in school. He especially loves to spend time with his grandfather Mike Dunmore (Kirk Douglas).
Mike is one of the respected members of his community, and when big corporation developers make plans which might endanger the livelihood of the community, Mike’s friends persuade him to stand against them by becoming a candidate in the board of selectmen elections. But Mike’s son Patrick (Bruce Boxleitner), Danny’s father, has a secret which no one knows: when he was a boy, Mike never seemed to have time for him, but always sent him out for work or chores. That’s why he is very bitter whenever Mike and Danny seem to have a fun time together.
At school, Danny’s new teacher Mrs. Norell (Kathleen McNenny) notices that he is really struggling in his studies. And one day she realizes that Danny has a big secret of his own: he can’t read. He has somehow managed to pass to third grade with different kinds of tricks. Mrs. Norell tells Danny’s mother Meredith (Laura Harrington) that she cannot promote him to fourth grade if he cannot read, and suggests a special learning ability test to diagnose what is wrong with him. Mike offers to help Danny, and with Meredith’s approval, takes Danny to Boston to be tested by a specialist, Dr. Meyers (Anne Twomey). But Patrick gets angry with his dad, and takes Danny back home, refusing to accept that there’s anything wrong with him. So now, besides the past secret of Patrick’s unhappy childhood, there is a new secret in his own family, which he refuses to deal with.
The Secret stars the famous movie star Kirk Douglas, whose career in cinema lasted from 1946 to 2008. He struggled to fame from an unhappy childhood, where his father wasted the little money the family had, and he and his mother and sisters had to live in crippling poverty. The movie was shot in October-November 1991, just eight months after Douglas was injured and barely survived his helicopter’s crash with a small plane. He died at his home in Beverly Hills on February 5, 2020, at the age of 103.
The movie was filmed in the beautiful locations of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is a true family movie, where charity overcomes bitterness, and love and honesty overcome difficulties. All characters are portrayed by great actors, and the story is very touching, a true narrative of per aspera ad astra (through hardships to the stars).