1970s
  Anna begins her reign as TV movie queen...

 

If Tomorrow Comes (1971 TV)

 


 

Patty Duke, Anne Baxter, Frank Liu, Mako, James Whitmore, Pat Hingle.

 

Romeo and Juliet-like story of two young lovers whose family does not want to see them together. In

If Tomorrow Comes it is because one (Anna) is white and the other (Liu) is Japanese. They finally marry on December 7, 1941, just moments before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The young couple realize that they mustn’t tell anyone other than their English teacher (Baxter) and his family otherwise they will be ostracized.

 

Good story, with some terrific acting and a surprise ending. Nice photography of Southern California and its beaches. To look at Anna and Liu, it is obvious from their appearances that they are playing younger than they really are, but they ultimately make their performances strong and believable despite this. A good one for those who like the “Romance Against All Odds” type.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website *** (Video)

 

California, 1941; young girl falls in love with Japanese-American; due to prejudices and tense atmosphere, they keep marriage secret. Enter Pearl Harbor. Typically stereotyped, one-sided; film’s point of view and overall feel designed not to offend anyone.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

Two on a Bench (1971 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke, Ted Bessel, Alice Ghostly, John Astin.

 

Rather silly tale of police questioning Anna and Bessel as to which one of them is really a spy when they are both seen talking to someone who definitely is one. Predictably both deny having anything to do with this guy rather than saying a simple good morning to him on a Boston park bench but are held up for twenty-four hours in an abandoned old house until police can get one to confess.

 

Brought to us by the same people, Levinson and Link who only two years earlier gave us the far superior

My Sweet Charlie. This one is fun at first, but wears thin shortly despite good comedic chemistry between

its two leads.

 

Alice Ghostly is seen later in the film and steals every scene she’s in as Anna’s kleptomaniac mom.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website. **

 

Dull comedy throws Duke and Bessel at each other, to find out which is working for spy. Boston locations only asset in listless, unimaginatively written and conceived comedy of errors by Richard Levinson and William Link.

--Leonard Maltin. Below Average.

 

She Waits (1971 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke, David McCallum, Dorothy McGuire, Beaulah Bondi.

 

One of the most boring thrillers of all-time that is probably one of the most tragic both because of an

excellent cast and plot line, though it’s been told many times before.

 

Anna is a young bride who is brought to her new husband’s family mansion where his ailing mother says

strange things and spooky occurrences begin happening, including Anna’s husband’s dead wife possessing her body!

 

Too bad they didn’t decide to do a production of Rebecca with Anna instead of this garbage. A waste of a time for both the cast and the viewer.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website. * 1/2 (Video)

 

Straightforward but ultimately boring thriller featuring Duke as an unbalanced young bride possessed by

spirit of husband’s first wife. Game attempt at hypo-ing story via direction, but you’ve seen this one before.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

You’ll Like My Mother (1972)

 

 

Patty Duke, Rosemary Murphy, Richard Thomas, Sian Barbara Allen.

 

As far as the films Anna has been in, I have to say that You’ll Like My Mother is probably the most underappreciated, yet somehow really effective movies in which she has starred.  It starts with a poor, pregnant widow who visits her mother-in-law during a horrible snow storm.  The mother-in-law appears hostile towards her at first, blaming her for taking away her son’s affections.  We are introduced to Kathleen, a poor servant who only wants to help.  A vicious cycle of cat-and-mouse entails, and soon Anna’s character needs to decide how to deal with it.  Anna gives a powerful and moving performance as a soon-to-be-mother and daughter-in-law who is eager to please.  A moving and heart-wrenching scene involving Anna’s character’s near death shows a powerful and moving portrayal of the joys and sorrows of motherhood.  Overall, You’ll Like My Mother is an excellent horror film.

--Written for The Official Patty Duke Website by Charles A. Blake

 

Smart thriller has a very pregnant young woman (Anna) traveling through a Minnesota snow storm to meet the mother of her late husband for the first time. She is greeted with a chilling reception but is stuck in the house because of the weather. Her Mother-in-law wants her before she finds out who she really is and to get her rapist son, who is on the run, out of the country.

 

The Congdon mansion in Duluth adds a haunting atmosphere to the smart script that doesn’t depend on

blood and gore to bring on the chills. It’s a character study helped by spooky music and some great acting.

 

Anna’s and Murphy’s “bitchiness chemistry” together is right on the mark.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website *** (Video)

 

Offbeat thriller with psychological undertones. Duke plays a pregnant widow journeying to visit

mother-in-law she’s never met. Some good moments, but doesn’t add up.

--Leonard Maltin ** 1/2

 

Deadly Harvest (1972 TV)

 

 

Richard Boone, Patty Duke, Murray Hamilton.

 

Interesting, yet somewhat confusing tale of a man (alias: Harvest) who used to be a spy and is now afraid his cover will be blown.

 

Somewhat interesting, but mostly dull adaptation of the novel Watcher in the Shadows. Anna plays a hippie who befriends Harvest and is interested in finding out about his past.

 

Boone and Anna work well together, as kind of a non-sappy father/daughter figure, but the story makes one lose interest after a while.

 

Anna does a great version of Blowin’ in the Wind over both the beginning and ending credits.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ** 1/2

 

Semi-idyllic existence of ex-spy-turned-grape-grower shattered when bomb shows up in his pickup truck.  Frustratingly uneven; some good performances, some bad; occasional good mood, often too rushed.  Adaption by Dan Ullman from Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows.

--Leonard Maltin Average.

 

Nightmare (1974 TV)

 

 

Richard Crenna, Patty Duke Astin, Vic Morrow, Arlene Golanka, Richard Schaal, Henry Winkler.

 

Crenna and Anna (for the first time in a movie billed “Patty Duke Astin”) are a young couple living in a

high-rise apartment in Manhattan. One night, while getting dressed, Crenna witnesses a sniper attack

coming from the top story window from the apartment building across the street, but when he tells the

police what he’s seen, they are skeptical and he fears he might be the next target.

The finale will surely have everyone’s hearts pounding!

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ***

 

Witness to a killing realizes he might be the sniper’s next target. Bread and butter TV thriller. Look for

Henry Winkler as an auditioning actor.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (1976 TV)

 

 

Stephen McHattie, Patty Duke Astin, Donna Mills, Tina Louise, Ruth Gordon, Ray Milland,

Broderick Crawford.

 

Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Did I say “Bad” yet? That is how horrible this sequel to the

Roman Polanski classic is.

 

It is eight years after the part-demonic baby of Rosemary Woodhouse (Anna) is born. Rosemary has since left her husband, Guy, who literally sold his son’s soul to the devil so he can become a famous movie star, and Anna is on the lamb with young Andrew/Adrien.

 

Rosemary finally befriends a prostitute (Tina Louise for goodness sake!) but the coven (including Gordon,

re-creating her Oscar-winning role) persuades her to get rid of Rosemary and keep the young boy for

herself.

 

SPOILER: Anna as Rosemary is led on a bus by Louise but before she can get her son, the bus takes off and she is seen screaming her son’s name at the back of the bus. She runs to the front only to discover “Oh, no!  No one is driving the bus!!!”

 

I’m sorry, whether Anna is playing the part or not but, Rosemary is too pivotal to this story and should not have been gotten rid of as easily as she was.

 

Louise, showing those acting chops she’s famous for on Gilligan’s Island, raises him in a casino, where he

grows up to drive car’s too fast and play the guitar too loud. Eventually he meets Donna Mills, a young

nurse and the two spawn another demon child.

 

Note to Anna and Ruth Gordon: I hope both of your paychecks were extremely high in order for you to

participate in such a piece of crap.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website * (Available on Video in the UK)

 

Sequel to the 1968 occult blockbuster traces growth to adulthood of the demon child (McHattie).

Patty Duke Astin is his distraught mommy; Milland and Gordon (recreating her original role) head the

coven of devil worshippers. Uninspired successor to the Polanski classic, retitled, predictably,

ROSEMARY’S BABY II

--Leonard Maltin, Below Average.

 

Captains and the Kings (1976 TV Mini-series)

 

 

Richard Jordan, Patty Duke Astin, Perry King, Jane Seymour, Charles Durning, Celeste Holm,

Henry Fonda, Sian Barbara Allen, Tracey Gold, Barbara Parkins.

 

Incredible epic mini-series based on Taylor Caldwell’s novel about an Irish immigrant orphan named

Joseph Armagh who enters the United States without a penny in his pocket to feed him or his brother or

sister. He eventually grows up to be a shrewd business man and makes millions. Eventually, his quest is to

have his eldest son (Perry King) become the first Irish-Catholic President of the United States.

 

Anna gives one of her best performances (and won an Emmy to prove it) as Bernadette, the daughter of the deceased woman he secretly loved for many years. However, his feelings for her mother do not turn over to Bernadette.

 

Anna’s part is not big, but it is pivotal to the story and she plays the part from Bernadette’s teenaged years until about the age of eighty. Anna wrote in her first book that her character was supposedly modeled after Rose Kennedy. This can very well be true as there are many similarities throughout the story between the fictional Armagh’s and the most famous family in this country.

 

With commercials Captains and the Kings runs for ten hours, so make sure to dedicate enough time to it.

Each hour is even more interesting than the next (whether Anna is on the screen or not, but of course the

best scenes are with her and Blair Brown going at each other’s throats).

 

Spectacular. Too bad they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website **** (Video)

 

The Storyteller (1977 TV)

 

Martin Balsam, Patty Duke Astin, Doris Roberts.

 

Levinson and Link story of a television writer (Balsam) who is criticized after his TV movie containing arson prompts a young boy to cause a deadly fire at his school. Balsam then has to deal with the guilt of this boy dying in the fire and the torture he has to go through as the person most people are blaming for the accident.

 

Anna appears briefly as Balsam’s young daughter and really does not have too much to do here. But it is nice to see her back with “Uncle Harold” from Me, Natalie and the story is worth watching all the way through despite Anna’s small appearance.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ***

 

Balsam plays a Hollywood writer whose TV movie about an arsonist may have resulted in tragedy. A

disturbed twelve-year-old boy sets fire to the school and dies in the blaze. Balsam is splendid as the

agonized writer.

--Steven Scheuer ****

 

Curse of the Black Widow (1977 TV)

 

Tony Fransiosa, Donna Mills, Patty Duke Astin, June Lockhart, June Allyson, Sid Caesar, Roz Kelly.

 

Possibly one of the cheesiest movies ever made and the least-favorite movie of Anna’s herself.

 

Several Los Angeles citizens, mostly men, are being killed off while their lifeless bodies are being covered

with a spider-like goo.

 

Anna plays Laura, the sister of a twin (Donna Mills) who’s lovers keep getting killed off. A detective

investigates the murders and discovers an old Native American legend about two twin sisters, one with

severe spider bites that have since made her turn into a spider herself! Well, actually, the woman turns into another woman who eventually transforms into a giant spider and does the killing. Phew. Get that?

 

Anna has the proud distinction of once again playing a double part. The shy Laura and the evil spider woman she turns into, Valerie.

 

Ridiculous, but hysterical. Like Valley of the Dolls, but even more absurd. Not exactly a high-point in

Anna’s career, but must if you want a good laugh!

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ** 1/2 (Video)

 

Chiller about the search for an elusive killer whose victims are wrapped in a spider-like web. Looks like

Curtis had this script leftover when his Kolchak: The Night Stalker series was canceled.  Retitled: Love Trap.

--Leonard Maltin, Average.

 

Fire! (1977 TV)

 

 

Ernest Borgnine, Vera Miles, Patty Duke Astin, Donna Mills, Alex Cord, Erik Estrada.

 

The first of three Irwin Allen disaster pictures Anna starred in. Two convicts start a forest fire that quickly

spreads causing disaster all around the resort area of the forest. Time is running out and the fire keeps

spreading about the forest. An older man named Sam (Borgnine) leads the fight to rescue everyone while at the same time pursuing his long-time love interest (Vera Miles).

 

Anna and Alex Cord play a married couple who are both doctors. Their marriage is going through turmoil

and they are unconvinced divorce is the only answer, but put their healing skills together in order to fight

the fire.

 

Nothing special, but the best of the three Astin-Irwin ventures.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ** (Video)

 

Mountain community is threatened by forest fire started by convict to cover escape from road gang.

Carefully structured suspense in the familiar Irwin Allen style.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

Rosetti and Ryan: Men Who Love Women (1977 TV)

 

Tony Roberts, Squire Fridell, Patty Duke Astin, Bill Dana, Jane Elliot.

 

A wife (Anna) is found on the family yacht with her dead husband’s body, but she won’t admit to

committing the murder. Two cocky lawyers are hired by the woman’s sister to defend her, but although

excellent lawyers they are not exactly known with cooperating with the judicial system. Eventually, they

uncover how Anna’s husband was really murdered in a nice surprise-twist ending.

 

John Astin directed this fun comedy/mystery which served as the pilot for the short-lived TV series.

--Bill Jankowski. The Official Patty Duke Website ***

 

Free-wheeling criminal lawyers with a way with women vs. hard-nosed judge at the trial of their client

Duke, charged with slaying her husband. Pilot for the short-lived series.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

Killer on Board (1977 TV)

 

 

Claude Akins, Patty Duke Astin, Beatrice Straight, George Hamilton, Jane Seymour, William Daniels,

Bonnie Bartlett.

 

The killer on board is not a murderer, but rather a strange deadly virus that is killing off the passengers one by one. It is up to the crew of the ship to quarantine the surviving passengers and discover what the mystery disease is before any more tragedies occur.

 

Anna plays a concerned mom whose son may have caught the disease. Her character (along with all the

others) is not full fleshed out due to some bad writing and character development.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ** (Video)

 

So-so drama involving vacationers on a cruise ship who are infected with a deadly virus and must be

quarantined. Echoes of The Cassandra Crossing with a change of locale.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

The Swarm (1978)

 

 

Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Olivia DeHavilland, Fred MacMurray, Lee Grant, Patty Duke Astin,

Slim Pickens, Ben Johnson, Bradford Dillman, Henry Fonda.

 

Irwin Allen’s disastrous disaster movie about a swarm of killer bees terrorizing a Texas community. The

film isn’t even campy, just plain boring. Lee Grant was right years later when she referred to it as

“The worst worst movie ever made!”

 

Bad directing, writing and fair special effects ruin it for one of the best casts a film has ever had. This is a

film all of the Oscar-winning actors (five of them!) will want to keep off of their resumes as probably the

biggest critical and box office flop of their careers.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website * (Video, DVD)

 

This formula disaster film from Irwin Allen has no sting at all, succeeds only in wasting a lot of talented

actors.

--Leonard Maltin. BOMB (*)

 

A Family Upside Down (1978 TV)

 

Fred Astaire, Helen Hayes, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Patty Duke Astin, Pat Crowley.

 

Astaire and Hayes play elderly couple who enjoy their independence until Astaire falls ill and Hayes can no longer care for him.

 

Anna is excellent as their daughter whose marriage is in trouble and still feels resentment towards her

father for paying more attention to her brother while they were growing up. Another one of her

well-deserved Emmy nominations.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website *** 1/2. (Video)

 

Affecting drama by Gerald DiPrego about an elderly couple who become dependent on their grown

children. Astaire won an Emmy Award and Hayes, Astin and Zimbalist all received nominations.

--Leonard Maltin. Above Average.

 

Having Babies III (1978 TV)

 

 

Susan Sullivan, Patty Duke Astin, Rue McClanahan, Richard Mulligan

 

Pilot for the television series deals with three different stories of couples expecting a blessed event. Anna

gives a heart-wrenching Emmy-nominated performance as a young woman who after years of trying finally becomes pregnant only to discover that she has cancer and might have to abort if she wants to keep herself alive.

--Bill Jankowski. The Official Patty Duke Website ***

 

Third trip to the delivery room before the series that quickly was retitled Julie Farr, M.D. (for Sullivan’s

character) and tried in several formats over subsequent seasons. Movies gave Astin another of her many

Emmy nominations.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

A group of pregnant women play out their personal dramas predictably---everyone lives happily ever after.  Astin’s dilemma about a cancer operation during her pregnancy to be performed by ex-husband, is

most interesting.

--Steven Scheuer. **

 

Women in White (1979 TV Mini-series)

 

 

Susan Flannery, Katherine Harrold, Patty Duke Astin, Gerland McRaney, Sheree North.

 

Soap opera story of new resident doctor (Harrold) and her exciting experiences at a Florida hospital. She

meets and falls in love with a doctor who she later finds out is married with a daughter.

 

Anna plays Harrold’s roommate, nurse Cathy Payson, who is torn between the hipocratic oath and her ill

father pleading with her to help him end his life.

 

Not particularly great, but entertaining fluff just the same.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ** 1/2

 

Hanging By A Thread (1979 TV Mini-series)

 

Sam Groom, Patty Duke Astin, Bert Convy, Donna Mills, Joyce Bullifant.

 

Boring Irwin Allen disaster tale of several long-time friends embarking on a tram ride in California while

several dirty secrets about their past comes out via flashbacks.

 

Anna is by far the most able of the cast and has a few moments to shine, but too few, in this overlong

predictable drama with no real frills.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website * 1/2

 

Party of friends dangle above a mountain gorge in a disabled tram reliving the past in this bloated

Irwin Allen disaster flick that could have been resolved in 90 minutes or less. Originally shown in two parts.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

Before and After (1979 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Feldon, Conchetta Farrell, Betty White, Jean Smart.

 

Anna is hilarious as an overweight housewife whose husband is no longer attracted to her and leaves home for another woman. Her self-esteem is even lower at this point, but with the help of some caring friends she goes on a diet regime, loses a lot of weight, lands a gorgeous artist and begins to rebuild her life. She once thought all of her problems would disappear once the weight was off, but realizes that living as a “skinny” woman doesn’t solve the answer to all of life’s problems. (Video in UK)

 

Look for Jean Smart in the opening party sequence in the hot tub.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website ****

 

Astin is terrific as a pudgy married woman who sees her marriage disintegrating right before she finally

embarks on a diet and exercise routine, eventually emerging as a new, trim, confidant person.

--Steven Scheuer. ** 1/2

 

The Miracle Worker (1979 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Melissa Gilbert, Diana Muldaur, Charles Seibert.

 

Twenty years after debuting as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker on Broadway, Anna fulfills a dream of stepping into Anne Bancroft’s shoes as Annie Sullivan in this fine remake of the 1962 classic.

 

Is it as great as the original? No. Is it a good movie on its own merits? Yes. It seems people either love or

hate this movie, and as a person who is mostly against remaking classic films, I found myself pleasantly

surprised. Anna is totally believable as Sullivan, and Gilbert makes a good (but not great) Helen Keller.

Though both fulfill their roles just fine, neither match the performances of the 1962 original. Muldaur and

Seibert as Helen Keller’s parents are a vast improvement over the over-acting of Inga Swenson and

Victor Jory in the original film.

 

Sunny California location shooting can not match the brilliant starkness of the original version, but still, as

far as remakes go, this is one of the best and probably could not be done better. If you want to watch a

remake of The Miracle Worker, stick with this one. Avoid, at all costs, the “Pepsi Girl” 2000 TV version

that Disney raped from start to finish.

 

Nominated for five Emmys, The Miracle Worker won three: Outstanding Hairstyling, Actress (Anna) and

Dramatic Special of the year. The only TV film of Anna’s to win this honor thus far.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website *** 1/2 (Video)

 

Astin (who as Patty Duke played the first Broadway and movie versions) gives a superb performance as

Helen’s dedicated teacher, Annie Sullivan. Gilbert gives a respectable performance as Helen in this

fine remake.

--Steven Scheuer. ***