Love Is Never Silent
Based onIn This Sign
by Joanne Greenberg
Written byDarlene Craviotto
Directed byJoseph Sargent
ComposerBilly Goldenberg
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerMarian Rees
ProducerDorothea G. Petrie
Production locationsVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
CinematographyDavid Gribble
EditorPaul LaMastra
Running time100 minutes
Production companies
Original release
  • December 9, 1985 (1985-12-09)

Love Is Never Silent is an American drama television film that premiered on NBC on December 9, 1985, as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology series. It is directed by Joseph Sargent and written by Darlene Craviotto, based on the novel In This Sign by Joanne Greenberg. The film stars Mare Winningham, Phyllis Frelich, Ed Waterstreet, Fredric Lehne, Cloris Leachman, and Sid Caesar. It follows a young woman who struggles with her own need for independence and the obligation she feels for her deaf parents.

It received positive reviews from critics and won two Primetime Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special and Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or a Special for Sargent, from a total of five nominations.[1]


The film begins in the 1930s and takes place over the following twenty years. Ten-year old Margaret Ryder is a hearing child of deaf parents. After her younger brother is killed in an accident, she has to negotiate a price for his coffin, as her parents are unable to communicate with the speaking world. Margaret assists her parents at all times, but sometimes feels left out of the hearing world, as her parents don't encourage her to mix with others. Her only true friend is Mr. Petrakis, an immigrant from Greece who used the radio to learn English. As Margaret gets older, she excels in high school math and on graduating high school, Margaret gets a job.

At work, she meets William Anglin, who asks her out. She turns him down multiple times as she is still living with and helping her parents in their new house. She finally accepts as he is enlisted in the war. They develop a romance and write to each other while he is gone. William comes home for a few days and they quickly marry as he is due to go back the next day. Margaret's parents are furious, but they eventually agree to meet his family.

William comes home from the war early after an injury and stays with Margaret and her parents for a few weeks until he is accepted into a university. They move out of her family home and into a small university apartment. Margaret parents come to visit and are not happy with the accommodation they are living in and leave.

Margaret and her parents don't speak for a while until Margaret shows up at their house, pregnant. Her parents begin to argue with her about how well William is providing for her and how responsible she is. Finally she tells them that she has been responsible her whole life as she has had to interpret the world for her parents since she was little. Tearfully, she sits alone in a church and reminisces over her times with Mr. Petrakis, who has recently died.

Margaret gives birth to a son, Marshal. At the Christening, her parents arrive and they are reunited.

Five years later, Margaret's mother is retiring and the factory she worked at is throwing her a party. She stands in front of everyone and signs a speech about how the hearing and deaf are alike and should not be divided.



Critical response

Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "is exceptional and very special, a near flawless execution of a wise, tender and acutely soulful story" and called it "a lovely, achingly real, intense and sometimes angry small film that blows away musty definitions and explodes stereotypes." Rosenberg also highlighted Sargent's direction and the performances of Winningham, Frelich, and Waterstreet.[2] Patricia Brennan of The Washington Post stated that the film "fulfills its visual task" and "is beautifully filmed." Brennan also praised the performances of the cast, noting "Frelich and Waterstreet do splendid jobs" and Winningham's performance "may touch your heart."[3] John Corry of The New York Times described it as "an extremely good-looking production" and concluded his review by writing, "Love Is Never Silent is intelligent and sometimes moving, but it doesn't quite touch us the way it should."[4]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
1986 2nd TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Drama Love Is Never Silent Nominated
38th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special Marian Rees, Julianna Fjeld, Dorothea G. Petrie Won
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special Mare Winningham Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special Phyllis Frelich Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or a Special Joseph Sargent Won
Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or a Special Darlene Craviotto Nominated

See also


  1. ^ "Love is Never Silent Hallmark Hall of Fame". Television Academy. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  2. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (December 8, 1985). ""LOVE IS NEVER SILENT," Monday, 9 p.m..." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  3. ^ Brennan, Patricia (December 8, 1985). "'Love Is Never Silent'". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  4. ^ Corry, John (December 9, 1985). "'LOVE IS NEVER SILENT,' ON DEAFNESS IN A FAMILY". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2023.