A father serving time for murder convinces his three teenage sons that his life is being threatened by fellow inmates and that they should break him out of jail. However, when his sons ... See full summary »
Autumn 1978 in suburban Sweden. Everything seems to be fine with the middle class Bendrick family with their two teenage children and a younger son, until the mother starts seeing her first... See full summary »
Melissa Gilbert is Sara Calloway, 18 year old daughter of divorced Chicago advertising executive Jessie (Stefanie Powers) and granddaughter of Maggie (Maureen Stapleton), who is moving from her Wisconsin home to a condo after the death of her husband. When Sara and Jessie visit Maggie, who Sara calls `Megs', to help Maggie pack, the reunion brings old resentments to the surface. Sara has a subplot where her emerging sexuality has her concerned with birth control, and Jessie fears for Sara's interest in a local boy Lowell (James Spader).
Although Sara is 18, Gilbert's youthful appearance and manner make her seem younger, with a Julie Weiss low-waisted formal dress and white stockings working against her. Her hair here is long brown with blonde tints, as over-styled as severely as that of Powers, with the use of ribbons, plaits and a ponytail. Sara also over-uses eyeliner and lip-gloss, and in one scene wears a shirt with no bra. Gilbert is funny when doing a primal scream during her visit to Bryn Mar college, chummy with Stapleton, supplies tears, and uses her eyes to convey irony. However she makes her confrontation line to Powers - `Are you satisfied?!' - a howler. She look beautiful when attempting to seduce Lowell at a bar, but isn't able to provide the mixed emotions when he takes her to `the lake'. (That a teenage boy could accept talk as a substitute for sex is also a hard ask). Sara is also reluctant to dance with Maggie and Jessie wearing a huge feather boa as they charleston with high kicks to the song Anything Goes.
The teleplay by Leonora Thuna, based on a story by Powers, reads as soap opera, with director Jack Hofsiss providing reaction pauses and staging theatrical compositions. Thuna bombs with lines like `It's like coming back to the scene of my crime', `Don't lay that guilt trip on me', `Did you bite off more than you can chew?', and `I always missed the family I didn't have. Now I missed the family I had'. Thuna scores though with the exchange `I hope you're not using salt. Only when I eat', the line `I just can't handle salacious conversation at breakfast', and Stapleton's `It looks like a cold wind blew in from the north'. Stapleton also saves `I'm sorry I did something to upset you. Of course I knew that I would. I just wasn't sure what it would be', and her earth mother with a touch of the dowager easily steals the film from Powers, who wears up-staging tight trousers.
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