The Reel Review


Deborah Raffin and a very young Diane Lane star in this sentimental 1980 drama about a caregiver at a home for children with cerebral palsy in the 1960s. The caregiver’s compassionate perseverance eventually draws out a lonely, unresponsive young girl to blossom and become pen pals with her idol, superstar Elvis Presley. The film is based on Lena Canada’s poignant 1978 memoir, To Elvis, With Love.

Diane Lane and Deborah Raffin in Touched by Love

Raffin gives a moving, heartfelt performance, but it is an incredible Lane, in one of her earliest film roles at age 15, who is captivating as Karen, coming alive with newfound purpose as a result of Lena’s love and devotion. Confined to a wheelchair, her performance is nuanced, emotional and convincing. The solid supporting cast includes Michael Learned (The Waltons), John Amos, Christina Raines and Mary Wickes (Sister Act), with director Gus Trikonis maintaining a steady pace throughout the film as he captures the time period and some of the heartbreaking challenges faced by those with cerebral palsy.

Deborah Raffin and Diane Lane in Touched by Love

Touched by Love is a powerful, inspiring message about the hope just one person can instill within another – and the human need to love and be loved. It is a sweet, straightforward story that remains as timeless today as it was more than four decades ago, with a beautiful score by John Barry (Born Free, the James Bond theme and 11 Bond films, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves). Touched by Love is a compelling, unforgettable tearjerker.


• Filmed in Banff, Canada and featuring the children and teachers from the Dr. Gordon Townsend School in Calgary, Canada, the real-life events actually took place at a group home near Stockholm, Sweden, where letters from Elvis Presley started to arrive after Lena shared Karen’s story with a Hollywood reporter who was close to him (presumably Rona Barrett or May Mann).

Diane Lane (right) with daughter Eleanor Lambert

• Diane Lane made her film debut in 1979 in the film A Little Romance. Her lengthy acting credits include The Outsiders, Lonesome Dove, Unfaithful, Under the Tuscan Sun, Man of Steel and 2020’s Let Him Go. Twice married – to actors Christopher Lambert from 1988 to 1994, and Josh Brolin from 2003 to 2013, she has one daughter, Eleanor Lambert, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for 2002’s Unfaithful.

Deborah Raffin launched the multi-million-dollar Dove books-on-tape company with her then-husband in the mid 1980s.

• Deborah Raffin (7th Heaven), who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Touched by Love, died of leukemia in 2012. She was 59.


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