Rusty leads the way to an entirely different cast of main characters
By now Ted Donaldson, who played Danny Mitchell in the series, was obviously too old to be the center of some childhood angst - in fact in the first scene not only is Ted noticeably taller, but his voice has changed! Other changes include John Litel playing Hugh Mitchell, and he certainly seems more like an attorney and reliable father figure than predecessor Tom Powers did in the same role. This is good, since Hugh Mitchell's job as city attorney figures prominently into the plot. Ann Doran remains as Mrs. Mitchell, Danny's stepmom. However, other than a little typical teenage/parental conflict in the first ten minutes, you don't see much of Danny or Rusty in the rest of the film, at least not as its focus. Quite by accident, Rusty and Danny meet Penny Waters (Sharyn Moffett) as a girl of thirteen who was blinded two years prior in an accident. Since then she has kept to herself and never really returned to school. From this point forward she is the focal point and the lead character of the film.
The school board has decreed that Penny must attend school, and not only that, the state school for the blind. Penny is willing to talk her mother into quitting her job and leaving town to avoid that fate. Danny suggests a compromise solution - that Penny get a guide dog, thus making it safe for her to attend the public schools. Danny's father, as city attorney, gets the school board to agree. Will everything work out? Watch and find out.
At first the whininess of the main character in this entry, Penny, had me somewhat annoyed. Then I began to think - most 13 year old girls whine and some even run away from home over an outbreak of acne, this girl actually did have her life turned upside down by anyone's measuring stick by blindness. This would be the likely reaction of anyone her age. In fact her reaction is probably much more realistic than other films in which the handicapped put on an all-too happy face considering their adversity.
I'd recommend this if you're in the mood for a family film of the post-war era, but this time there's not only a smaller dose of Rusty than normal, but of Danny Mitchell too.
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