My Father's Shadow: The Sam Sheppard Story (TV Movie 1998) Poster

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dtucker865 July 2002
Henry Czerny and Peter Strauss both give excellent performances as the Sheppards. After almost fifty years this case still inspires debate and controversy. This movie shows us as well the tragedy for this poor family. I feel it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that Doctor Sam was indeed innocent and the Richard Eberling was the real culprit as they profess in this movie. He confessed to several people that he really did kill Marilyn (he confessed to a fellow inmate on his deathbed as a matter of fact). Strauss is great as he shows Sheppard being reduced to a pathetic shell of a man by his hellish experience.
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Superb movie
joelouis7 November 1999
Excellent movie. Don't miss it. I have always liked Peter Strauss acting but this is the best I have seen of him. Henry Czerny, playing the role of Dr. Sheppard's son trying to vindicate his father's memory, played also a terrific role. Very human emotional and inspiring story about father and son relationship among tragedy. The plot and direction couldn't be better.
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One of Strauss's best!!
ttaskmaster5 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I really must stop watching Peter Strauss movies....

This one actually made me cry. The scene where Chip (Henry Czerny) parts with his father (Strauss) for the last time (as a live person, rather than a ghost or a memory) - That really set me off, such is the power of these two actors.

Together in scenes, or on their own, each plays their character as a multi-dimensional person - You see their character as they present themselves to the other characters, but also seeing what's going inside their heads. There is no voice-over, no subtle narrative or Shakespearean monologue to hold your hand and spell it out - This is done with damn good acting.

Strauss's descent into depression and alcoholism, Czerny's desperate torment - They are frighteningly realistic.

If ever I had a true story to portray, this is how I'd want it done, with this quality of realism in the acting and with this depth of character.
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a hellish, and true, story
blanche-29 September 2014
Peter Strauss plays Dr. Sam Sheppard, accused of killing his pregnant wife Marilyn in 1954, in "My Father's Shadow: The Sam Sheppard Story." Henry Czerny plays Sheppard's son, Sam Jr., trying to clear his father's name.

The film spans something like 40 years, which is impossible to do in an hour and thirty-five minutes, and viewers who know the story will get more out of it. The case is both fascinating and important, and if you're not familiar with it, it makes for good reading in any number of books or on Wikipedia. Growing up, I can remember all the publicity that Ariadne, who became Sheppard's second wife, garnered when she fell in love with him and tried to assist in his release from prison.

The original case isn't really covered here a lot, rather, there are reminisces of Sam Jr. (Henry Czerny) about his father before the murder, and after his father is released and remarried. (Due to so many inequities in the trial, Sheppard was re-tried and acquitted ten years after the original trial, in 1966.) An odd thing in the film: Sheppard's mother commits suicide in the film; however, I believe it was his father-in-law who actually killed himself after the original verdict.

Both Strauss and Czerny do a wonderful job. Strauss expresses Sheppard's heartache and anger beautifully; and as another viewer mentioned, the last time Sam Jr.(Jonathan Kroeker as the younger Sam) sees his father is a devastating moment in the movie. A brunette Lindsay Frost plays Marilyn.

The Sheppard case was groundbreaking, as it resulted in new case law. The phrase "change of venue" comes directly from that case, as do reforms in the discovery portion of a case so that the prosecution cannot hide or tamper with evidence. It's the case that made a star out of F. Lee Bailey.

The case has been the subject of many books, documentaries, and films; the TV series "The Fugitive" was based on it. Among the actors who have played Sheppard are Peter Strauss in this film, George Peppard, David Janssen, and Harrison Ford.

The press reported that Sheppard was guilty from the beginning, and the Judge told reporter Dorothy Kilgallen (who here is an anonymous male reporter) that Sheppard was guilty. He also refused to sequester the jury so they could make sure to hear the news calling for his being found guilty. Not exactly a fair trial. When modern technology brought new evidence to the fore, Sheppard's son, Sam Jr. (Henry Czerny) tried to get his father's name cleared by the Ohio government.

Sheppard died at the age of 46, in 1970. The acquittal in 1966 had come too late: he tried and failed to work again as a doctor, he became a raging alcoholic, and ultimately, thanks to his third wife's connections, he launched a career as a professional wrestler (and actually invented a move still used today).

Sam Sheppard wasn't the first person whose life and family was destroyed by botched justice that we are told is the best system in the world, nor would he be the last. This is a good movie, told from the point of view of a little boy, and later an adult talking to his dead father, who lost both his parents, one to murder, and one to murder of another kind.
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