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Can Ellen Be Saved? (1974)
Back when deprogrammers were the "answer"
I only saw this once also in my early teens, but it never left me, because Michael Parks was good and creepy as the "Messiah" of his little cult. Really, kind of a precursor to the real-life Jim Jones situation. One could see exactly how someone who knew better might fall into his clutches--- he's nice and supportive one minute, seductive the next (very edgy for a network made-for-prime-time-TV in those days!) The other other controversial part was Ellen's family's employment of a deprogrammer (based on a real one), as they were called, to basically pull a reverse brainwashing that didn't look nearly as enjoyable as the Michael Parks character's brand of conversion. In real life, there were lawsuits and questions of First Amendment and Freedom of Religion rights involved. Nowadays, the "cults" seem far more sinister, with their full potential for destruction revealed by Jonestown and others, and the current accusations of abuses by Scientology, etc. However, deprogrammers, for what they were worth, seem to have gone by the wayside long since, as far as "rescuing" and "curing" cultists go. Seems like their methods were co-opted by those Scientologists! I would love to see this old movie again, to discover whether it's still as good as I remember.
Plebania: Odcinek 854 (2007)
Interesting soap opera about modern Polish life...
This Polish serial drama centers around the rectory occupied by the senior parish priest and a younger one, the Catholic church still having greater importance in the lives of Poles than the USA or indeed, a lot of Europe. And that's in spite of having once been a Communist satellite country!
People in the town have their share of troubles, including the usual adulteries, abusive marriages, job woes, etc., and they end up, sooner or later, sharing it with their helpful pastor. The senior priest himself soon discovers there was fruit from his youthful indiscretion prior to becoming a priest (though, mercifully, no pedophilia of any kind!) There is even the stereotypical humorous /wise characters and a stereotypical well-to-do female troublemaker, ironically named "Angelika."
I became acquainted with this program (under the USA title "The Priest's House") when it was broadcast by a local cable station from New Britain, CT, which still has a large, influential Polish population. Even though it's entirely in Polish without even subtitles for translation, it's fairly easy to follow if you have someone on hand who is familiar with the language (like my Mom). Pretty soon, like any American soap, one soon recognizes familiar situations and translations become superfluous, because the acting is very good.
The only real difference between this and American serials is the lack of sexual titillation--- Like soap operas USED TO BE here, everything is suggested (as befits a program centered on a Catholic parish!) and the acting and character development carries one along. Don't think, though, that this means most of the actors are unattractive. While the older characters are realistic, earthy types, the younger people are as handsome or pretty at as their American counterparts, if not as scantily clad.
Sadly, the Polish programming of the local station (which included news broadcasts from Poland) was drastically cut back, and this fine soap was one of the casualties, while we were very into Angelika's desperate yet nefarious plans to acquire a child, and the fate of a young abused poor mother. We hope it will return someday, or at least become available on USA-compatible DVDs for rent.
Marie Curie (1977)
Covers more than the original "Madame Curie"
This, as I recall, was a pretty daring new look at the life and times of Marya (Marie) Sklodovska Curie, particularly at the sad and scandalous early years of her long widowhood. It appears the lonely, needy Marie had an affair, or almost had one, with a fellow scientist and admirer who ended up staying in his rocky marriage. In any case, their letters were leaked to the press by his wife and/or their scientific rivals, and Marie was nearly driven from the respected position she had achieved.
This was all glossed over by her admiring daughter Eve in the otherwise excellent biogaphy she wrote about her mother... In part due to natural loyalty, and the fact that Eve was still a young child by the time these events had played out. By the time Eve was in her teens, Marie was once again restored to a condition of esteem (and, apparently, celibacy) which she retained until the end.
I'd like to see this again, one DVD if it's out there, as I recall the good and convincing performance by Jean Lapotaire, who appeared in numerous English historical minseries back then, which were later shown on US educational TV. (Where we "high-brows" sought edgy entertainment before everyone had HBO and Showtime.)
The Montefuscos (1975)
Ethnic family comedy--- many stereotypes
I vaguely recall this short-lived sitcom because I used to date an Italian-American with relatives who appeared to enjoy this show and didn't miss it.
The "situation" centered around a large I-A family with several adult sons and daughter. They were compelled to gather every single Sunday for Sunday dinner at their parents' home, and woe be unto any of them who had alternate plans. A couple of them were married to non-Italians, which added to the "hilarity", such as it was. (In truth this insistence on Sunday dinners WAS what often happened in many families even as recently as 30 years ago, though it wasn't always THIS rigid.) Efforts to tackle some issues in sitcom style--- a custom popularized at the time by "All In the Family" and its spin-offs--- kind of fell flat as I recall, since the program was family-friendly and one supposes they really didn't want to offend the target audience (Italian, Catholic.) They went for the "AitF-Lite" approach.
For instance, in one episode I remember, one married son had problems in his marriage, and his father assumed that the thrill was gone, referring to it as a "problem with KISSING"--- euphemism for impotency I guess. It seems a show in those days couldn't have it in all ways--- be squeaky clean, suggestive, and relevant at the same time.
In any case, the problem, as was the rule in sitcoms back in the day, was solved within the half-hour, which inevitably meant the grown children were sentenced to spend every blessed Sunday with THEIR parents, without protest from the spouses, children, friends, etc.