|Index||6 reviews in total|
Shirley Jones gives one of her best performances in this made-for-tv movie of the week. (I used to wait anxiously for each new movie back in the 70's) These were much more entertaining than today's fare. Anyway, Shirley wrecked one marriage with her addiction to gambling and her new husband is unsuspecting of her problem. We (the audience) cringe each time Shirley makes one stupid bet after another with her bookie and even gets the crap beaten out of her one time when she can't pay up. Shirley has long hair in this flick (another rarity, if you are used to seeing her short shag over and over). I don't know if she was nominated for an emmy for this but she should have been as she really sinks her teeth into this role. Good old fashioned drama without todays blood & guts violence or gratuitous four letter words but still entertaining. Don't know if it's on video or not, many of these forgotten made for tv movies are lost and should be found IMMEDIATELY!!
Perhaps even more than her in her Oscar winning performance for "Elmer
Gantry," Shirley Jones here achieves distinction with her convincing
delineation of a woman teetering on the brink of destroying her life
through a gambling addiction.
What lends great conviction to the production is the absolutely normal personality Miss Jones projects as the protagonist. Gambling addicts are not wild eyed and sinister looking psychopaths, and it is therefore entirely appropriate that Miss Jones' character is an attractive, charming, and thoroughly upstanding seeming character. And therein lies the rub...all of which allows her to so convincingly "take in" so many others, not the least of which is her husband, (Laurence Luckinbill) from whom she has appropriated (and lost) $30,000. Most of all, she has deceived herself.
Even the cut rate conventions of TV movie production work to this movie's benefit. By shooting the movie mainly within the confines of actual suburban split level homes, hotel rooms, pawn shops, and gambling casinos, the production achieves an almost documentary veracity.
Also working much in its favor is a superb performance from Sam Groom as a sleazy back room spiv, as well as welcome cameos from screen greats Sylvia Sidney and Joan Blondell.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Right on target made for TV movie, one of the best,
about compulsive gambling and how it destroys those who are effected by
Having already ruined her first marriage Eleanor "Elie" Anderson, Shirley Jones, has kept her addiction to gambling from her second husband Bill,Laureance Luckinbill, a widower with a 12 year old daughter Stacy, Lorie Busk. It's when Elie got involved in a card game at a local gambling den and lost $750.00 that her trying to keep her gambling habit in check fell completely apart.
Desperately wanting to win back her money Elie went back to her previous life of a compulsive gambler and in no time at all destroyed not only her life but that of Bill's, who's $30,000.00 in saving she squandered away, as well as her step-daughter Stacy future of having a two parent family.
We first get to see Elie at the beginning of the movie addressing a group of people like herself at an G.A, Gamblers Anonymous, meeting spilling her heart out about how gambling, and her inability to control it, put her in the fix that she finds herself in now. We soon get to see how Elie slowly got herself wasted, financially and emotionally, by going back to the evils that she, after getting married to Bill, tried to put behind her and had now ruined her, and her family's, life.
Shirley Jones' performance as the helpless Elie Anderson is about as good a performance of a compulsive gambler that I've see in any major Hollywood production on the subject. We see Elie's life spiral down in flames as she goes through her husbands savings going into enormous dept to the bookies and loan-sharks and eventually ending up trying to pay her debt off by hocking the family jewels. As a final insult Elie ends up putting out, after paying him back the money that she owes him, to the sleazy loan-shark Rick Santo, Sam Groom, who built up her confidence by giving her worthless tips at he racetrack that he knew were fake. It was Satno who by egging her on got Elie to write out a number of worthless and fraudulent checks that if cashed, by Santo, could put her behind bars.
Bill who had no idea of his wife's Elie's addiction found out the hard way, by the bank telling him that his account was zeroed out, what she was doing behind his back. This as he was about to start up a business with the cash, $30,000.00, that he entrusted her with! Like all gamblers Elie did have her share of luck at both the racetrack and gambling, both legal and illegal,joints but as expected she blew her hard won money that would have paid back all her debts and restored her husbands Bill's saving account. Elie did that by her gambling it away in her wanting more and instead ending up losing it all.
Hard to find made for TV movie that's more then worth the effort of spending a hours time at a local DVD bargain bin that shows how compulsive gambling has ruined many a person, like Elie Anderson, who falls prey to it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This TV-movie offers an interesting glimpse into not only the horrors of compulsive gambling, but also the gender and spousal roles of the 1970's. Jones plays a housewife who's already lost one husband to her disease of gambling on virtually anything. Now married to Luckinbill and step-mother to toothy youngster Busk, she again finds herself drowning in the whirlpool of debt and self-destruction. Things reach a head when Luckinbill attempts to use his $30,000 in savings for a business of his own and finds that Jones has blown every cent of it! She frantically tries to win the money back, but can't quite pull it off in time to hide her habit. Sidney plays Jones' crusty, but concerned mother. Blondell runs a poker club. The inimitable and peerless Van Patten pops up as a friend and possible rescuer (wearing a different, but equally atrocious faux flower on each of her three outfits!) Groom is a fellow gambler and an enabler who doesn't appreciate it when she can't pay him back the way he would like. Jones does an admirable job in this film and the viewer shares her increasing despair, even while becoming disgusted at her sometimes outrageously foolish decisions. Luckinbill really only gets one particular scene of note, but he handles it well. The rest of the time, he is basically a kind, but chauvinistic bread-winner. Sidney is compelling as always, adding the right note of judgement mixed with affection. (Check out the scene in which Marlboro-voiced Sidney chides Jones for smoking, though!) Van Patten brings a lot of spark and sass to the film. (Why wasn't this woman ever a guest star on "The Golden Girls"? She'd have been fantastic!) Blondell, in a small part, gives the film some heart. One thing that stands out here is the fact that Jones gambles away $30k (a truly massive amount of money at the time!), but she doesn't even work! She barely does anything, really, except gamble and maybe fix dinner. Luckinbill, in true old-time style, simply announces to his wife and daughter, without consultation, that they are moving to another state. The roles of family members in the home have changed a lot since 1975 (as, thankfully, have the DARK paneled interiors and ugly, faux-antique fixtures popular at the time!) There's an effective and unusual score by David Shire and the cast is dotted with many of those familiar television faces of the era. Even though it is at times pat, it's also effectively bleak enough to serve as a warning to those who may have a gambling problem.
I recently bought this movie on VHS and viewed it. Shirley Jones does
not disappoint, as she plays her character with depth and complexity.
The movie begins with her monologue, as she speaks to a group of fellow
ex-gamblers. I disapproved of that beginning, though, and thought the
movie deserved more definition and formation of the main characters. I
would have liked to have known the inner world of Elanor Anderson; her
history, what brought her to gambling, her secret aspirations. Maybe
just as importantly, I would have liked some illustration of what
allowed her to quit gambling.
One of the main, and longest parts of the movie concerns a series of covert bets she makes, over a period of six months, with the $30,000 in her new husband's savings account. There was a 30-40 minute section of the movie when we are on pins and needles, waiting for her husband to find out. I thought this movie was going to end in a bloody scene such as in Finding Mr. Goodbar. I was very relieved and surprised when Elanor's husband reacts with love instead of hate, understanding instead of revenge. The substantial and valuable nature of this direction of the plot re-inforces my belief that this movie deserved more character development, as I was tempted to view the inner directives, values and challenges of the people involved. Shirley's performance and presence saves what is a somewhat, but not wholly disappointing plot.
Shirley Jones does a great job of portraying a compulsive gambler in this movie. I am a compulsive gambler myself and I could truly relate to the pain and guilt and shame that overwhelms a person who has any addiction. As I watched this movie with over a year of sobriety, I still felt the desperation of her situation like it was mine all over again. Shirley Jones role is believable. I only wish it would've gone even deeper into the emotional despair that it can cause. This disease has killed many people literally and figuratively. I was only 9 yrs old when this movie came out and yet I'm so glad I watched this movie 35 years after it was made. Very well done.
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|