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Film / ...And Your Name Is Jonah

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...And Your Name Is Jonah is a TV movie written by Michael Bortman and directed by Richard Michaels that aired on CBS on January 28, 1979.

Jenny Corelli (Sally Struthers) and her husband Danny (James Woods) are shocked to learn that their son Jonah (Jeffrey Bravin), who has spent the last three years and four months in a hospital for the mentally handicapped, is in fact deaf, but intellectually normal. Jonah's parents and his younger brother Anthony (Jeremy Licht) struggle to readjust to life with him. His parents take him to a school for the deaf run by Mrs. Marquardt (Ruth Manning), who believes that deaf children must be made as normal as possible. Jonah is banned from expressing himself with his hands and put through endless drills focused on Reading Lips and making sounds with his mouth, but he makes no progress, and his parents wonder if there's a better way.

...And Your Name Is Jonah contains examples of:

  • And Starring: "Starring," "Also Starring," and "Introducing Jeffrey Bravin as Jonah."
  • Baby's First Words: The first word Jonah understands and uses correctly is the sign for "hot dog."
  • Because I Said So: When Anthony asks why Jonah doesn't have to eat his peas but he does, Danny says, "Because I said so." (The real reason is that because Jonah doesn't understand any language, his parents have no way of explaining things or disciplining him.)
  • Catapult Nightmare: Jonah sits bolt upright after dreaming that his brother's Spider-Man doll is attacking him.
  • Commonality Connection: Jenny bonds with Connie (Randee Heller) over the fact that they both have deaf children - her son Tommy is one of Jonah's classmates.
  • Cry into Chest: Jonah tries to communicate to Jenny that he wants a hot dog. When she doesn't understand him, he starts hitting her repeatedly, and when she hugs him, he cries into her shoulder.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: After Francesco dies, Jonah doesn't understand that he's gone forever until Woody uses a turtle shell to teach him the sign for "dead."
  • Disappeared Dad: Danny temporarily walks out on the family because he can't deal with Jonah's deafness.
  • Doting Grandparent: Jonah's grandfather Francesco (Titos Vandis) immediately bonds with Jonah and likes carrying him around on his shoulders. He's one of the few people Jonah manages to form a connection with without the use of language, and understands him better than his parents do. It's a severe blow when he dies, especially since Jonah doesn't understand the concept of death.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Jenny deals with Danny's absence by drinking wine while watching I Love Lucy.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: Jonah moves into his parents' bed after his Spider-Man nightmare.
  • Go to Your Room!: When Jonah won't stop throwing his food on the floor, Danny takes his plate away. Jonah responds by crying and banging his spoon on the table, so Danny marches him up to his room.
  • Impairment Shot: Auditory version. In shots from Jonah's perspective, all sounds are muffled and distorted.
  • No, You: When Danny's baseball teammate calls him a jerk, he says, "Who's a jerk, Rico? Don't you go calling me a jerk. All right? 'CAUSE YOU'RE A JERK!"
  • Percussive Therapy: Danny kicks a trash can when he finds out his baseball teammates don't want Jonah around.
  • Punch a Wall: Jenny hits a door with frustration over Jonah's inability to speak.
  • Say My Name: After Francesco's heart attack, his wife (Penny Santon) bends over him, crying "Francesco! Francesco! Francesco!"
  • Speech Impediment: Late in the movie, Connie and Jenny attend a club for deaf adults. The ones who can speak almost all have a strong "deaf accent."
  • Surprise Party: When the Corellis arrive home from the institution, they find that the extended family has thrown a party to welcome Jonah.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Jenny throws a party plate at Danny for saying Jonah isn't normal.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Mrs. Marquardt believes that if a deaf child can learn to talk and read lips, he will be functionally abled. She refers to her school's success stories as no longer deaf.
  • Time Out: When Jonah acts up in class, his teacher makes him stand facing the wall.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Jenny and Danny are both quite upset at Jonah's difference, with Jenny insisting he must really be normal inside, Danny shouting "He can't hear! He can't talk! He can't think! He can't even live like a human being!" and both trying hard to make him seem as normal as possible. By the end, they've accepted him as he is and started learning sign language.