Dated but sweet, poignant story with great lead performances
In this episode of the 1973 anthology series "Love Story", Frank Langella plays Jimmy Lewin, a 20-something lawyer living in a "swinging singles" apartment complex in Los Angeles. He breezes through life, popular, gorgeous, sexy and seemingly carefree, casually bedding scores of beautiful women (this was early 1970s California, after all!) until he meets Karen Webster (Victoria Principal), who works in a local bookstore. Karen is down to earth and kind, and unmoved by Jimmy's smooth pickup attempts, very different from the shallow and superficial women he usually dates, so of course he immediately sets about pursuing her. Without giving the story away, the rest of the episode is about what happens to Jimmy and Karen, as Jimmy tries to overcome his deep fears of real love and commitment.
The script is dated for sure -- this was back in the days when there was a clear distinction between girls you had a good time with and girls you fell in love with -- and there are some hilariously bad 70s clothes to make it a nice little time capsule, but the lead performances are excellent. Victoria Principal, who is so young she's almost unrecognizable, is unrelentingly kind and "good", playing Karen with sweetness and intelligence. Valerie Perrine, as Marlene, Jimmy's current casual hookup when Karen comes along, is 70s pretty, looks great in a bathing suit, and is not very bright. She's in love with Jimmy, who most definitely is NOT in love with her, and she doesn't take the resulting breakup well.
But this is Frank Langella's show, make no mistake about it, and he is excellent as Jimmy. He is on screen virtually every minute of the episode, and he rises, as always, above the limits of the script to turn in a beautifully developed and nuanced performance. He gets to be sexy, cool, sweet, tender, vulnerable, scared, angry, and every other emotion in between. As always, you're strongly aware as you watch him that this is no ordinary actor, no ordinary talent. And at 33 years old, he is absolutely breathtaking, in full gorgeous flower just as he was in "Diary of a Mad Housewife" and "The Twelve Chairs" a few years before. The most special treat of this TV episode: it's the only chance you will have to see him in a tiny red Speedo!! Talk about breathtaking.....!!!!
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