In the Gloaming
In the Gloaming, poster.jpg
Based onNew Yorker short story
Written byWill Scheffer
Directed byChristopher Reeve
Music byDave Grusin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
ProducersNellie Nugiel
Bonnie Timmermann
CinematographyFrederick Elmes
EditorDavid Ray
Running time67 minutes
Production companies
Original networkHBO
Original releaseApril 20, 1997 (1997-04-20)

In the Gloaming is a 1997 American made-for-television drama film written by Will Scheffer and directed by Christopher Reeve in his directorial debut. It stars Robert Sean Leonard, Glenn Close, David Strathairn, Bridget Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg. The movie is based on a New Yorker short story written by Alice Elliott Dark.[1] The film premiered on HBO on April 20, 1997. It won four CableACE Awards and was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards.


Prodigal son Danny leaves San Francisco and returns to his family’s home to die from late-stage AIDS. Danny finds the same icy-cool, upper-crust suburban home he left all those years ago. Danny’s father is a middle-age businessman who's clueless as to how to relate to his son, and has never come to terms with his son's homosexuality. His sister Anne feels left out of the moments of closeness Danny shares with their mother. His mother Janet feels guilty for keeping her son at a distance, but it's her that he emotionally connects with and ultimately ends up facing his death with, by sharing their thoughts on everything from movies to sex. Live-in nurse Myrna completes the picture.[2]


Production notes

Christopher Reeve had to direct most of the film from a room off set via TV monitors and headphones, since the hissing sounds from his respirator would have ruined the actors' voice recordings. He would watch and listen to all the day’s scenes from the room, and when he had instructions to give, he used a microphone to convey those directives to a speaker situated next to the actors.[3] Robert Sean Leonard said of Reeve, "to have someone on your set who cannot move, but who's in charge, is a rather incredible thing. Most first-time directors have a hard time with the chaos that goes on. [They tend to] put lots of the decisions on the cinematographer's shoulders. Not Chris. He held his own … He was the anchor."[3]

Critical reception

Variety wrote in their review that "Close is strikingly passionate, while Leonard is superb in capturing the complex layers of Danny’s ever-evolving emotional state...the movie is rare in its utter lack of contrived sentiment, even when Danny’s near death".[4] The Chicago Tribune said of the movie, "it's an exceptionally powerful work...and Leonard conveys a deep sense of release and clarity of vision, while Close shines as a woman whose tragedy forces her to revisit the paths taken in her life".[5]

New York Times TV critic John J. O'Connor wrote that "Reeve makes an enormously impressive directorial debut". O'Connor also suggested that this is really a chamber piece, a duet for mother and son. "In this instance, both are extraordinary. Ms. Close...reminds us once again that she can be the most subtle and moving of actresses...and Mr. Leonard skillfully avoids easy sentimentality to create an admirably steel-edged portrait".[6] The Hartford Courant said "the film belongs mostly to Close and Leonard, whose complicated, sometimes uncomfortably close relationship, drives the story". They also advised that the film is an hour well worth investing in, "an often deeply moving portrayal of an American family that too many, no doubt, know too well".[7]

Awards and nominations

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1997 In The Gloaming Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie[8] Nominated
Christopher Reeve Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special[9] Nominated
Glenn Close Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie[8] Nominated
Bridget Fonda Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie[8] Nominated
Fred Elmes Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie[8] Nominated
1997 In The Gloaming CableACE Award for Dramatic or Theatrical Special[10] Won
Glenn Close CableACE Award for Guest Actress in a Dramatic Special or Series[10] Won
Will Scheffer CableACE Award for Writing a Dramatic Special or Series[10] Won
Dave Grusin CableACE Award for Original Score[10] Won


  1. ^ Dark, Alice Elliott (April 25, 1993). "In the Gloaming". The New Yorker.
  2. ^ Tropiano, Stephen (2002). The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 144. ISBN 1-55783-557-8. LCCN 2002003220. OCLC 606827696.
  3. ^ a b Daly, Steve (April 11, 1997). "Christopher's Mettle In the Gloaming". Entertainment Weekly.
  4. ^ Richmond, Ray (April 17, 1997). "In the Gloaming". Variety.
  5. ^ Johnson, Steve (April 24, 1997). ""In the Gloaming": This hourlong HBO movie". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ O'Connor, John J. (April 19, 1997). "A Debut With Resonance, A Family With a Problem". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Endrst, James (April 14, 1997). "Gloaming A Moving But Muddled Portrait of AIDS". Hartford Courant.
  8. ^ a b c d "In The Gloaming". Television Academy.
  9. ^ Vivinetto, Gina (September 13, 2017). "Emmys flashback! See what the awards show looked like in 1997". Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "A complete list of winners of the CableAce Awards". Variety. November 17, 1997. Retrieved November 10, 2018.