Post-"Midnight Cowboy" hustling; commendable exploits for '70s television...
Shy, straight kid from Oklahoma who likes to draw and paint gets thrown out of his house, soon ending up in Los Angeles where he romances a pretty young prostitute while paying the bills as a male escort to women and men. Worthy TV-made continuation of the 1976 ratings blockbuster "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway" wasn't as big a success, partly due to a been-there-done-that feel but also perhaps because of the gay content--uncomfortable territory for 1977. The filmmakers work very hard to show us that Alexander (deep-voiced Leigh McCloskey, looking too old to be a minor) is indeed heterosexual; with lots of lip-locking between he and Dawn (returning Eve Plumb), we get the point early he's just using the gays as trade without all the speech-making. Alexander ends up living with a gay football player, who's just another stepping stone to this kid and one who seems to understand the situation (he quickly picks up another boy, though he isn't made out to be a villain). Earl Holliman gives probably the strongest performance in the movie, playing a (presumably gay) community center counselor who wants to clean up the streets--and Alex's life. John Erman directs in an unembarrassed, straightforward fashion, admirable for what is basically low-budget, exploitation television. The film refuses to paint the characters in shades of black or white, good guys or bad guys. Though the pseudo-happy ending doesn't quite ring true, and McCloskey's slack-jawed performance is disappointing, it's a decent attempt to scare impressionable kids away from Hollywood Boulevard.
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