It's prom night and the kids of Hoover High will be having a night they will never forget. Popular girl Shelley ditches her prom and ends up spending the night with unpopular Dan; Popular ... See full summary »
Charles Russell dies, but since he is too good for hell and too bad for heaven, he is given the opportunity to go back to 1987 to assist his younger self, Chazz, in making better decisions ... See full summary »
Gabriel Higgs has failed to get into Johns Hopkins to study medicine. He's sixth on a list of backup candidates, and must persuade the five people ahead of him to drop out. Gabriel has a ... See full summary »
Patty Duke co-produces and she plays herself for the last 20 minutes of her story. Born Anna Marie in Queens, she was taken in by John Ross (Howard Hesseman) to manage her acting career as a child, where she suffered abuse which discolored the triumph of her Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, a role she had created on Broadway. (Ari Meyers plays Duke as a youth). It wasn't until Duke got older that the signs of her mental illness began to show, and with the assistance of psychiatrist Harold Arlen (Karl Malden), she is finally diagnosed as manic-depressive, and prescribed lithium to balance her moods. Duke's acting in her scenes with Malden makes huge leaps over the standard of efforts of other performers who choose to portray themselves, and she has a fun violent tantrum at Christmas.
The teleplay by John McGreevey, based on Duke's autobiography written with Kenneth Turan, concentrates mostly on Duke's middle period as a young adult where she is played by Jenny Robertson, covering her television show, marriage to Harry (Timothy Carhart), her ill-fated relationship with Desi Arnaz Jnr (a pre-Friends Matthew Perry) where he produced records for her, her quickie marriage to Glenn Bell (David Packer), and pregnancy to John Astin (Arthur Taxier) whom she also marries. Robertson captures Duke's youthful beauty and humor, though the latter Duke gets the laugh lines eg `You just wanna get rid of me. I don't blame you. I'd like to get rid of me too'. Arlen also gets a laugh line to Duke in `I'm flattered that you trust me with your mother's welfare, if not your own'. The scene from The Miracle Worker where Annie Sullivan shows Helen a bird hatching from an egg seems metaphorically important enough for it to be repeated, where Duke played Annie as a adult with Melissa Gilbert playing Helen, signifying Duke's emergence from the shell of mental illness. And Duke's mother Frances (Millie Perkins) is presented as more depressive than manic, with her father a derelict drunk who has abandoned the family.
Unfortunately director Gilbert Cates trivialises events, further worsened by the melodramatic music score of Gary Sherman. It's also a shame the treatment focuses more on Duke's personal life than her career. We see her winning awards but aren't told what for, the timing of her involvement of the Senate hearings into the Quiz Show scandal makes us expect her audience for The Miracle Worker to boo her, and although it isn't identified she appears in army costume for her role in A Time to Triumph. Perkins' casting is interesting considering that she was a child star, playing Anne Frank in the 1959 George Stevens feature.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?