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This was a pretty disturbing TV movie about a young girl who runs away
from home and is forced into a life of prostitution.
I saw this when I was in high school and I was really surprised at how graphic it was. It wouldn't be made today. Some might view this film as horribly exploitive--in fact it almost never played on TV! When ABC showed the film to its affiliates in 1977, quite a number said they would not show it. They felt it was TOO depressing and graphic. It was heavily edited (you can tell) and then released. The two sequences that have never left me are Purl being attacked by the other prostitutes and when a fat, ugly, slobbering man starts to undress her and has sex with her (off screen thankfully). Her reactions afterwards were just harrowing.
I do like it but it seems to go out of its way to shock you and has an ending that I didn't buy for one second. Still, it's one of the better 1970s TV teen movies.
Another great TV movie of the week. The acting is quite good by everyone involved. Carolyn Jones plays quite an unsympathetic role here. She's jealous of the attention her husband Paul Burke gives their daughter (Purl) so she treats her like crap. Linda Purl feels the need to run away and ends up on Hollywood Blvd. Once there she falls victim to pimp Clifton Davis and his cadre of hookers led by Lana Wood. One scene shows Lana doling out what she considers "sisterly love" by beating the crap out of Purl. The one that really needs beating in this movie is Carolyn Jones. As a viewer, you want to slap her back into the "Addams Family" for being such a whiny bitch. The one person in this movie who really shines is Kathleen Quinlan playing a 15 year old hooker. Her acting is top notch and she really comes across as a hardened prostitute. The only way to tell that this is not "Starsky and Hutch" is David Soul permed his hair for this flick. Overall, a good slice of life for teenage runaways, kind of gritty and not too glamorized like "Pretty Woman" was years later. Worth watching!
Linda Purl is Hailey Atkins, a 14 year old runaway who becomes a prostitute
in the stable of pimp Comfort (Clifton Davis). Hailey has left her parents
because her mother Marilyn (Carolyn Jones) is jealous of the attention her
husband Frank (Paul Burke) gives their daughter. Detective Russ Garfield
(Lou Gosset) and Advisor Lyle Stick' York (David Soul) try to help Hailey
to get away from Comfort.
Purl looks too old to play a 14 year old and uses an inexpressiveness to convey youth. In comparison, she is easily out-performed by Kathleen Quinlan who plays the 15 year old experienced `lady' Karen Brodwick. However in one scene, where Hailey tells Lyle to stop helping her, there is a glimpse of the actress Purl is later to become.
The teleplay by Hal Sitowitz, suggested by an article by Ted Morgan, is presented as a morality tale, where Hailey resorts to prostitution when rejected by her mother, sought by the police as a minor who is a runaway which is against the law, and subjected to a pornography ring in a detection centre. Her mother describes Hailey's role as `another woman' to her husband, and prostitution is here given the slang `flatbacking'. The treatment also has Comfort's ladies represented by his number 1 Maureen (Lana Wood) rationalise his abuse as love, and in a perverse scene, when Hailey returns to him, he has his women seek physical revenge for her betrayal. However the one interesting touch is the unresolved future presented for Hailey.
Director Marvin J Chomsky gets a laugh from a policewoman role-calling Hailey after she tells Lyle her name, but regrettably makes Jones look unflattering.
'Little Ladies of the Night' and 'Children of the Night' are both wonderful movies. They are an example of what life is really like for some young people, and they show us that there are young people on the streets that need our help and love.
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