People, The

Tagged: Film

US made-for-tv film (1972). American Zoetrope Productions/Metromedia Producers Corporation for ABC-TV. Produced by Gerald I Isenberg. Directed by John Korda. Written by James M Miller based on selected stories from Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (fixup 1961) and The People: No Different Flesh (coll of linked stories 1966) by Zenna Henderson. Cast includes Kim Darby, Dan O'Herlihy (Sol Diemus), William Shatner, Diane Varsi and Laurie Walters (Karen Diemus). 74 minutes. Colour.

Young school teacher Melodye Amerson (Darby) – the first-person narrator of Zenna Henderson's story "Pottage" (September 1955 F&SF) – arrives at a secluded US valley which is the home of a reclusive community similar to a religious commune, avoiding contact with the outside world. While made uneasy by these people's stern, withdrawn lifestyle, Amerson is intrigued by the children nonetheless, and discovers in time, they are actually closely humanlike Aliens from a now-dead world. The People have lived on Earth since the 1800s, and possess modest Psi Powers which they are now forbidden to use. Upon their initial arrival they were persecuted as witches by the local inhabitants, and so the elders have forbidden the use of their powers ever since. Despite being unnerved, Amerson decides to stay and to help the People better adjust to living among humans more openly, after encouragement from children like Valancy (Varsi) who wish the restrictions on their ESP abilities to be lifted. Shatner delivers a solid performance as Dr Curtis, resisting his usual tendency to overact. This film first appeared as part of the long-running ABC Movie of the Week series; it has since become a fairly obscure title. [GSt]

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