Phillip Borsos

Phillip Borsos

Borsos' next film was a change of pace. He directed the American-made "The Mean Season," starring Kurt Russell and Mariel Hemingway, which turned out to be a run-of-the-mill crime thriller. Yet another about-face was "One Magic Christmas" (both 1985), which Borsos directed from his own story, and served as executive producer. An update of "It's a Wonderful Life," the film starred Mary Steenburgen as a suicidal woman taken to meet Santa by a cowboy angel (Harry Dean Stanton). Borsos' fourth film was his most ambitious: "Dr. Bethune" (1990), the true story of a 1930s Canadian surgeon (Donald Sutherland) who worked in China during Mao Tse-tung's revolution. Shot in Montreal, Madrid, Beijing, Pinyao, Yenan and various Chinese mountain locales, it was a grueling and expensive project, taking a year and a half to film and costing 18 million Canadian dollars. "Dr. Bethune" was critically acclaimed, but not terribly commercial. He returned once again to the great outdoors (British Columbia) with "Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog" (1995), the story of a teenager (Jesse Bradford) and his labrador marooned in the Pacific Northwest. Written and directed by Borsos, "Far from Home" received critical acclaim for its breath-taking direction, but was faulted for its script. Borsos had just completed the film when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died after receiving a bone marrow transplant less than a month after "Far from Home" was released.