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Recommendation for Mercy (1975)

 -  Drama  -  May 1976 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 21 users  
Reviews: 4 user

Inspired by true events, a 14 year-old boy is accused of raping and murdering a little girl.

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Title: Recommendation for Mercy (1975)

Recommendation for Mercy (1975) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Andrew Skidd ...
John Robinson
Robb Judd ...
Frank Holmes
Mike Upmalis ...
Bruce Miller
Karen Martin ...
Nora Cook
Michelle Fansett ...
Fran Bailey
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Barry Belchamber
Tom Brennan
Henry Cohen
Terry Doyle
Lawrence Elion
Carl Gall
William K. Koski
Michael Lambert
Michael Lewis
James Millington
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Storyline

Inspired by true events, a 14 year-old boy is accused of raping and murdering a little girl.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

May 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Teenage Psycho Killer  »

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Budget:

CAD 250,000 (estimated)
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Show detailed on  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Sometimes vivid film, with a format and co-stars that confuse
14 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Recommendation for Mercy could make you think that the Ontario government actually hanged an innocent 14-year-old guy. There's a chilling scene of the main character, John Robinson, finishing his last meal, being handcuffed and led to the gallows, walking alongside a Anglican priest, arriving to face a hooded hangman, the noose placed round his neck and the trapdoor lever pulled...his "best friend," a teenager who helped convict him, though, is pictured seated on a windowsill watching with cold interest, as the execution proceeds. It was all John's imagination of future events. The movie's production quality is a little amateurish, with an annoying electronic music score threaded throughout most scenes and some shaky camera-action, but it was done on a low budget by a director/producer who want to "get the story out" and somehow help the real victim of a wrongful conviction, Steven Truscott who, in 1959, was a typical nice- kid-RCAF-brat living in one of many postings his father had had during the 1950's around Canada, and who had the misfortune to give a 12-year- old girl a lift on his bicycle for about four miles to Highway 8 so she could see a local farmer's ponies. Steven left her there and lazily pedaled back home, stopping to visit with pals who were swimming in the local river and others who were playing baseball at the schoolyard. The girl who'd hitched a ride on Steve's bicycle, Lynn Harper, was brutally raped and murdered, her body found very near the County Road which she and Steven had traveled to reach the intersection with the Highway. Within 3 months, the boy was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang for the crime, all on some very flimsy circumstantial and manufactured evidence. Local & Provincial Police and a hot-shot prosecutor manipulated their prisoner, his friends and medical evidence in an effort to get a quick conviction and hold onto their jobs in the face of a public outcry and increased fears that a psychotic killer was lose among the local populace. The judge presiding at the trial, in real life, obviously considered himself to be the prosecutor's b*tch, asking pointed questions from the bench that tended to shore up the shaky evidence against Truscott over and over again. Admittedly, 1959 was a time when most people in North American culture tended to trust government authorities, so it was relatively easy to convict a teenager who was woefully ill-prepared to defend himself either psychically or financially. It wasn't until 1976 that Canadian Defence Attorneys won the right of examining all the prosecution's assembled evidence in what is commonly called the "discovery process". Such barriers to justice helped substantially to convicted Truscott and send him to the Huron County jail in Goderich, ON to await his hanging for over five long months. Truscott's death sentence was finally commuted to a life term and he was paroled after ten years in custody. He lived an honorable, responsible life, marrying just once never divorced, raising two children, working hard as a machinist not 40 miles away from where he'd once sat in the death cell at age 14-15. This film portrays a very different background story, putting John Robinson in the role of a boyfriend of the murder victim and doesn't portray the circumstances of his giving the girl who would be murdered a lift on his bicycle very clearly. The music score distracts the viewer from following what the two kids are doing that fateful evening, so we don't get a clear picture of John's innocence. Those unfamiliar with the Truscott story will question throughout whether or not John is guilty of the crime, save his continued insistence on his own innocence and his failure to change the story he tells the police. Confusing elements like too many flashbacks and the introduction of two very pretty 14-year-old girls who look too much alike to keep the story flowing well; one the victim and one is her friend who later on testifies against John in court. The military element is missing in the film, an important element \ which also helped in Truscott's wrongful conviction...the local civilian population distrusted the military families who move in and out of little Clinton, ON with such regularity...and the Truscott jury was made up entirely of local middle-aged civilian men, just the kind of people who would most-deeply mistrust teenage guys and later admitted they all viewed Truscott as guilty from the start. The director rescues us from our confusion somewhat as the actual trial proceeds, bringing to light John's "friends" and their successful manipulation by the police & prosecutor and helps illustrate what false maturity is demanded of impressionable teenagers who get mixed up in the legal system.


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