Broken Lullaby and The Fictional World of Archives

TV Movie Release Date: 1994

Based on a Harlequin Romance, this TV movie re-broadcast in 1997 stars Mel Harris (Thirty Something) as a New York City professional genealogist, Jordan Kirkland, put on assignment by her aunt, Kitty Ridgewood (played by Vivian Reis), who hires her to trace her past. Claiming she was an orphan, she wishes now, as a widow, to uncover her Hungarian background. She shows Mel a photograph of herself as a child in a studio standing next to a Faberge egg. The egg, on the basis of an enlarged photo, was earlier appraised as worth $10 million. Her aunt is head of a wealthy cosmetics firm and doesn't wish anyone to know of her secret as this would bring out undesirables and unknowns claiming to be long-lost relatives.

Mel flies to Milan, Italy, to visit the person who appraised the egg but on entering the studio encounters a corpse and is "rescued" by a man named Nicholas (Nick) Rostov (Rob Stewart) claiming to be an expert in Russian artifacts. He tells her that the egg is actually the centerpiece of a music box.

From Milan, after turning down an offer to work with Rostov, Mel travels to Vienna by train. Rostov just happens to take the same train, but they are in different compartments. Rostov notes another sinister male passenger boarding the train. This passenger is seen in one scene looking at color photos of Mel and then he takes out a length of rope and practices his strangling technique.

The train moves on to Budapest where Mel consults another expert, a woman, in Faberge eggs who also happens to be working for a Russian count, a descendant of the person for whom the egg was originally made.

Mel then travels to the Hungarian monastary where her aunt was cared for. The priest shows her a room filled with records in disarray. Mel is shown in another scene with the priest searching through the records. The priest miraculously turns up her aunt's registration form and on the backside it shows that her aunt was transferred from a Budapest hospital.

Returning to Budapest by train, Mel is escorted to Count Borodin's estate by Gudryn [sp?], the woman expert. The count informs Mel that perhaps her aunt was related to the people who stole the Faberge music box. He also tells her that Rostov's grandmother also claims to be the rightful owner.

The count arranges for the Hall of Records to be opened. Mel consults the few remaining records that are left from the hospital. Rostov remains outside in his car and sees the man from the train enter the building. Mel finds a document with her aunt's name on it and removes it from the file and puts it in a folder. The lights go off and she leaves the room clutching the folder attempting to escape. She runs into Rostov and then the other man grabs the file and escapes from the building.

Mel decides to trust Rostov and confides in him what she saw on the document. He of course is able to explain the significance of the words. Her aunt had typhus and had come from St. Petersburg. Her father, Peter, disappeared after leaving her at the Budapest hospital.

Rostov, while putting the moves on Mel, continues searching through the Budapest Hall of Records. He invites her to a ballet ball. He explains about his connection to the music box and the count's title. At the ball the count makes an appearance and asks her to come to his art gallery in the morning.

During their first kiss outside the dance floor, Mel and Rostov are interrupted by a photographer. In the morning at the count's art gallery, Mel discovers Gudryn strangled in her office chair. A tape recorder is playing with Gudryn's notes about the search for the music box.

In another scene, Rostov returns to the hotel carrying an original document from the Hall of Records. It's an exit visa application for Peter to go to Vienna to seek employment. As he's showing her this document on the balcony of her hotel, the assassin takes a shot at her (he misses) and Birdy, the photographer, takes photos of the assassin.

During their escape from Budapest, Rostov stops at Birdy's apartment to find out what she wanted after a frantic phone message. He finds her strangled corpse with the camera back open and empty of film. Returning to the taxicab where Mel is waiting, Rostov tells her Birdy won't be selling the film permanently.

In Vienna Mel goes to a violin shop where she meets with a woman for whom Peter worked as a craftsman. She said Katya, the girl with the Faberge egg, was not his daughter, just a girl he smuggled out. The woman takes Mel to the basement of the shop where they rummage through a trunk of family heirlooms. One document is a folder with an autographed photo that contains a significant comment. In discussing her family history with Rostov's grandmother, Mel shows her the photograph her aunt gave her. The grandmother says it's her, a keepsake she leave with Alexandra, her sister, until they were reunited.

After the assassin is shot by Count Borodin, Mel and Rostov conclude that his godmother, Maria, must have the music box. Informing her of the assassin's death, Rostov and Mel leave. Maria retrieves a suitcase with the box, and leaves the ballet company building where she is confronted in the concluding scene by Rostov and Mel. Mel's aunt, calling herself Kitty after her Russian name, arrives in Budapest and is reunited with her sister Natalya Borodin. Kitty learns that her real name is Alexandra. Taking the key that Mel wears, she sees that Natalya has a similar key. They open the music box to discover an inscribed brass plate. The movie ends with the ballerina in the box pirouetting.

  1. The Internet Movie Database

CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 1997.09.27. Updated 1997.09.27.