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I was 13 years old when I first saw this movie on TV in 1974 and just recently had the chance to watch it again for the first time. After 32 years I was surprised at how well this made for TV movie had held up. The film centers around Chris Parker, a 14 year old girl played by the excellent young actress Linda Blair, who after running away from home several times due to her dysfunctional home life ends up in a state "home" for girls. The facility she is in is in reality a reform school for young women with varying degrees of mental problems due to their lack of love and guidance at home. It is very apparent that Chris doesn't belong there, she is not a criminal, just a troubled young girl who desperately wants the love and attention she was denied at home. I remember being shocked 32 years ago when I watched the infamous rape scene in the shower, and the DVD I rented from Netflix has this scene still intact. Seeing it after all the years didn't lessen the impact of the brutality and reality of this rape. I have read where this pivotal scene has been edited out of some viewings of "Born Innocent", and as awful as this sounds, the scene is central to the movie, and in explaining how Chris ends up being no longer innocent, as she was before she went to the "home". This is one of the best made for TV movies ever made. This DVD can be rented from Netflix, and I highly recommend it, even though it will leave you feeling sad in the end.
Disturbing, controversial NBC TV-movie, one of the most popular television-made dramas from the 1970s (regularly shown right into the '80s) has young Linda Blair fresh off "The Exorcist" and well-cast as a teen runaway facing hard time in a girls reform school. Gritty, documentary-like production filmed on a low-budget in New Mexico has (intentionally?) fuzzy sound and photography which may put some viewers off. The performances by the troubled girls, including Blair, are natural and compelling; Joanna Miles (a Carrie Snodgress look-alike) is sympathetic as a well-meaning teacher; Allyn Ann McLerie does a bravura dramatic turn in a clichéd part as a hardened housemother. The film's downbeat theme can be disheartening and difficult as an entertainment, but there are sensitive and moving sequences, and Fred Karlin contributes an evocative score. The sequence with Blair being raped by a group of girls using a toilet-brush handle caused so much controversy after its initial airing that the scene was dropped for the repeat (intact on DVD). Blair followed this up with a handful of other television stunners, and gained confidence as an actress with each one.
I remember this movie clearly when it debuted in September '74, and all of the controversy due to the rape with the toilet plunger. It ran on reruns, with the rape scene deleted, throughout the late '70s & '80s, but then this movie seemed to disappear in the '90s. Recently I was able to find a copy and view this made-for-tv classic. Being a fan of Linda Blair, this movie has withstood the test of time. It follows the story of a 14 year old girl that's unwanted by her messed up parents. The parents were the ones that should have been sent to reform school! If this movie was to be released today, it would still have controversy. Not only for the "toilet plunger" scene, but the fact that 14 year old characters are smoking cigarettes throughout the movie. When this movie was made, this was not mentioned due to the social stigma to smoking was not established yet. In some ways this movie is pretty tame compared to todays standards, it's still a slice of '70s fare TV, when there was less channels, but more to watch on TV. If you are a fan of '70s made-for-tv movies, then this one should be at the top of your list.
"BORN INNOCENT" remains one of the more "controversial" TV movies of the 1970s.Setting the path for Linda Blair's future in trashy,women-behind-bars,skin-flicks.This is a shame because Born Innocent is a realistic and straight-forward expose'of life in "reformatories" and the people who try to make a difference there! The well-known story concerns a 14-year-old girl,branded an "incorrigible"runaway,sent to the state school for girls after being relinquished by her parents.At the "school" we meet girls with a variety of problems and behaviors-most of whom seem simply unloved aqnd unwanted!Of course we learn otherwise but the question still remains:Can having loving parents and a "normal" life in middle-class suburbia really solve everyone's problems?Are some people just not capable of functioning within the structure of a family and becomming productive in society? I think the most couragious step that the filmakers have taken is to show the school's "inmates" as both criminals and yet still "kids" who crave acceptance from each other and yes,the adults around them!This is especially evident in the scenes in which Chris Parker(the central character) befriends those same girls who "raped" her earlier in the story!Or when Moco(the tough lesbian) actually cries when Janet(Chris' friend) loses her baby during her stint in isolation(as punishment for fighting with Moco!) By the movies' end nothing has really been resolved!After injuring their housemother during a protest riot Chris joins her friends at the school and has undoubtedly become the new "leader".We the viewers are left to wonder:Will Chris ever get out and lead a productive life?Will any of these girls "make it" out "there"? It would be interesting to have made a "follow-up" sequel-something like "Born Innocent-25 years later!" Well...maybe not!!!
I first saw this movie on television during the fall of 1974 and I really
enjoyed watching this very much. This is about a 14-year-old girl who is
already in trouble with the law and has to spend time in prison.
Linda Blair plays the role of Chris Parker, who is supposedly a good kid, but does not seem to stay out of trouble. She is picked up by law enforcement officers and is sent to a women's prison where she gets her first experience at being physically assaulted. She did get out of prison on parole, but is soon sent back because her parents (Kim Hunter and Richard Jaeckel) could not trust her because money was missing from her mother's wallet and Blair is immediately suspected. At that point, Blair becomes very hardened and not because of her parent's accusations, but because of spending time in prison.
Blair comes in contact with a counselor, (Mary Murphy) who she confides in and began telling her stories of how she was treated very badly and had that woman in tears, but soon enough, the woman learns that this young girl is not what she claims to be after learning what happened while she was on parole and confronted her about this.
Kim Hunter played the role of Blair's movie mom Mrs. Parker and has done a very superb job in playing this role. She was a housewife who stayed at home and sat in her recliner watching television and smoking cigarettes.
Richard Jaeckel played the role of Blair's movie dad and did a very superb job in playing this. He behaved much like any father to his own daughter. He was the one who played in the 1976 movie "Jaws Of Death." He played the role of the sociopath who raised approximately 20 sharks and commanding them to kill.
Mary Murphy did a superb job in playing the role of the prison counselor Miss Murphy. She did her lines to perfection and nothing was out of place.
I do have to say that Linda Blair did a superb job in her role as young Chris Parker. She was only 15 years old, but played as a 14-year-old and everything she did was perfect! She has starred in other movies like "The Exorcist," and "Sara T." In her other 1974 movie "Sara T" she played the role of a very young alcoholic who experienced alot of problems in her life. Blair can really act, I mean, really act and it is because she has that very special talent. This is the beginning of something very special for miss Blair. Now she will do some nice films like Savage Streets, Chained Heat, Night Patrol, Savage Island and many others. I like when she is nude.
Director Donald Wrye has really done a great job in directing this movie. He has directed all of the scenes very well and despite of the scenes that were violent, they were well managed.
This is a movie that teenagers and their parents should watch. This gives insight of how even parents who have provided a very good home for their teenagers can wind up in the same situation as Chris Parker's parents.
Born Innocent (1974) is a made for T.V. movie that I caught on the old
and white many years ago. A sad film about a young girl (Linda Blair) and
all the trouble she went through while she was in reform school. Her
seem oblivious to her problems when a social worker tries to find out
her family life. I am disappointed that this movie is not availible for
viewing anywhere. A shame because it's a great made for television
This was New Mexico, but I have seen many such facilities during my
time as a foster caseworker over nine years in Texas. The only thing
that was outside my knowledge was the isolation. I cannot imagine that
any facility has a solitary confinement room.
The terrible tragedy of young women depicted in this film was real. Abuse and neglect by parents who cannot and will not take the time to raise their children properly and are surprised when they rebel.
Christine never had a chance. She was kicked out by an abusive father and a mother who could not defend her. She was probably getting beaten herself. She was thrown in with too many others who had problems of their own that were not being addressed.
After abuse at home and in the system, she hardened just like prisoners do and was forever lost.
15-year-old Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Linda Blair was magnificent in this realistic film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie when it was originally shown on TV in 1974. It was controversial and shocking to say the least!!!! I was 13 years old and had never seen anything like that on TV before and the rape scene in the shower was all me and my friends talked about for days afterward. The storyline is fairly simple, Linda Blair, as "Chris Parker" gets in some minor scrapes with the law and is sent to a girl's reform school. There she goes from being "Born Innocent" to a swaggering thug over a period of time. The apathy of her parents was sad and the earnest counselor at the reform school tries to save her without much success. I have not seen the movie since the original airing but from what I am reading here the rape scene is deleted or radically edited. That is a shame because that scene, graphic as it was, really set the tone of the movie and let the viewer understand why Chris no longer remains "innocent". I wish I could get my hands on an unedited copy of this movie that made such an impression on me at the age of 13.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Growing up, The book, Born innocent stirred me and the movie version
was pretty good as well. I agree with many on how controversial this
is, there are some scenes(one in particular) that are brutal to the
point of almost being unwatchable. Yet this movie is very intense and
emotionally moving, as is the book.
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT: The transformation of Chris Parker from a frightened young woman to hardened and tough is frustrating and sad. The rape scene I could have very happily lived without, I was just a kid when I viewed this and it was pretty upsetting. But I don't think it was there for shock value, that scene was also present in the book and was, I guess, almost necessary for the whole story.
The movie shows what can happen to a kid who gets lost in the system-it is unusally powerful and though it stands as a TV movie this was a movie I have no problem with seeing it made for the big screen. The performances/acting were great.
This is not a pleasant movie to watch, as many really good movies aren't. It is however, a well done, frighteningly real story that will tug at your heartstrings. Any fan of Blair's or of this type of movie in general should check it out. It affected me then and would probably stand the test of time and affect me now, were I to view it again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Linda Blair, immediately following her triumph in ''The Exorcist'' was
cast in this then controversial TV movie. Christine Parker is a young
runaway from an abusive home whose parents hand her over to the state.
She finds herself in a detention home, where she discovers the even
harsher realities of the young girls who reside there - unloved,
troubled, and angry, who have the tendency to vent all their aggression
onto newcomers. She finds herself as the target of their rage on
evening in the shower room, where five of her fellow inmates gang up on
her and violate her with a toilet plunger handle. Considered overly
graphic at the time of its original airing in 1974, the scene was cut
for later airings, but has been restored on DVD. Blair's nipple can be
briefly seen for a few moments and that may explain why the scene was
cut in subsequent TV broadcasts. As disturbing as it is, the rape is
essential to the film's plot and adds to the anguish that Chris and her
peers experience. When she has the chance to go home for a brief stay,
her abusive father (Richard Jaeckel, magnificent) slaps her and her
mother, leading the teen to run away again, taking her right back to
where she started. Kim Hunter is effective as the passive, meek mother
who endures her husband's insensitivity and mistreatment. Blair went on
to give some more great performances in the late 70s, such as another
TV movie, "Sarah T: Portrait Of A Teenage Alcoholic" and the theatrical
releases "Sweet Hostage", "Summer Of Fear" and "Hell Night". Not long
after, she found herself in exploitation flick hell. She is an
outstanding actress, giving her all to every project, and it would have
been nice if she had found some more mainstream material. Joanna Miles
as the compassionate teacher, is the voice of reason and perhaps of
caring in a system that does not want to take a bigger step towards
actually considering the welfare of these troubled youths. Allyn Ann
McLerie, as the well-meaning but ineffectual housemother Lasko, conveys
the frustration and defeatist attitude of a woman who keeps things
together but can't bring herself to actually make a difference in the
lives of her girls. The portrayals of the other adolescents are right
on target, a diverse group who all share the same pain, so much so that
they become bonded in a hardened, indifferent way. Chris becomes one of
the gang, and in a sadly realistic conclusion, has lost sight of any
goals or aspirations she may have had to change her life.
Worth viewing, still relevant today.
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