1980s
  Anna's career continues to flourish...

 

 

The Women’s Room (1980 TV)

 

Lee Remick, Colleen Dewhurst, Patty Duke Astin, Tyne Daly, Ted Danson, Mare Winningham,

Gregory Harrison

 

Mira (Remick) is a woman who grows up in a time where women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands, raise their children and always have a smile on their face. But this Scarsdale mom realizes that there is more to life than her surroundings, and after her cheating husband (Danson) leaves her, she decides to go back to college to become what she always wanted to be: a teacher. Along the way she meets a much younger man (Harrison) and the two begin a love affair, on not only his terms, this time, but both of theirs.
 

Anna gives probably one of the most honest and gut-wrenching performances ever recorded for the television screen. She plays Lily, a mentally ill friend of Remick’s whose life is falling apart right before he very eyes. Just try to not to be affected when watching her final scene, where she describes the mental hospital she just came out of to Remick. Now knowing that Anna is a diagnosed Manic Depressive, it’s especially interesting to watch her in this film since it probably mirrored her own life at the time.

The rest of the cast, especially Remick and Dewhurst in two of their best roles, are top-notch.

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

 

Talky adaptation by Carol Sobieski of Marilyn French’s feminist novel about the evolution of several ‘50s women as they make it into the ‘70s. Emmy-nominated as Outstanding Drama Special, as we both Dewhurst and Astin as Outstanding Supporting Actress.

--Leonard Maltin. Above Average.

 

 

Mom, The Wolfman and Me (1980, TV)

 

Patty Duke Astin, David Birney, Danielle Brisebois, Viveca Lindfors, John Lithgow, Keenan Wynn

 

Sweet story of a single mother, who is a photographer, and her precocious young daughter. The mother eventually finds love with “the Wolfman”, an attractive guy with an Irish Wolfhound. The daughter, who is used to living on her own with Mom, does not like that the two are getting so close and feels her mother is losing her independence with him.

 

Anna is right on target with her performance as the over-worked, under-loved Deborah. Brisbois, who won a Young Artist Award for her work on this film, seems less annoying in this film than she did in All in the Family. Birney, who is by no means a great actor, does manage to turn in plenty of charm and charisma as Anna’s boyfriend. They do have great on-screen chemistry together. Lindfors and Wynn are a hoot as Anna’s aging, overprotective parents and we get a rare early look at John Lithgow before he began his stardom. Not a great film, but a good one just the same. Perfect for family viewing. This is Anna’s first, and so far only, syndicated television movie. Based on Norma Klein’s best-selling novel.

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

 

A Charmingly acted romantic comedy about a divorced fashion photographer and her eleven-year-old daughter. The mother is being pursued by an advertising executive, as well as a schoolteacher who owns an Irish wolfhound (named Wolfman).

--Steven Schuer. ***

 

 

The Babysitter (1980 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, William Shatner, Stephanie Zimbalist, Quinn Cummings, John Houseman

 

In a movie, eerily similar to the blockbuster smash, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, but a dozen years before its time, The Babysitter is about a mysterious woman (Zimbalist) who despite the title, is hired as a housekeeper and eventually causes mayhem for the family she’s employed for.

 

A few thrills here, especially due to the moody music score, but not much, despite some excellent performances. Although I am not too fond of the movie itself, Anna gives one of my favorite performances of hers as the alcoholic wife of Shatner, coping with a troubled marriage and past. Zimbalist is especially creepy and Shatner outdoes himself in a rare good performance.

--Bill Jankowski, The Official Patty Duke Website **/12 (Video)

 

A troubled married couple (played superbly by Shatner and Astin) hire an attractive teenager to take care of their house and young daughter. Shortly thereafter, the babysitter takes over the family with spellbinding effect and eventually tries to kill them.

--Steven Scheuer. **1/2

 

 

The Violation of Sarah McDavid (1981 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Ned Beatty, James Sloyan, Alley Sheedy, Eric Stolz, Gloria Stuart

 

This is what I would humbly consider one of Anna’s most powerful, emotional, yet somehow unsettling roles.  The movie tells the real life story of a teacher in a corrupt school where vandalism and violence have, although are kept quiet, become commonplace.  Sarah quickly becomes well-liked, finding friends in both faculty and students alike.  She enjoys and delights in soon becoming a newlywed with her boyfriend, Eddie (James Sloyan).  Her role as a teacher is convincing and very likable.  However, Sarah is soon raped by a random assailant, yet the principal (Ned Beatty) quickly quiets the matter for his own protection.  As a result, we witness Sarah slowly coming to terms with a life that has been turned upside down, and her decision to go public about her attack.  However, the film ends before we see the full impact her announcement has, which is a shame because it would be very satisfying to see her assailant brought to justice.  However, it is still a gripping and thought-provoking film.

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

 

Sarah McDavid is a young woman who gets her first full-time teaching job at Benjamin Harris High, replacing one of the most-loved teacher’s at the school who is on a leave of absence because she “fell down a flight of stairs”. Soon after taking over for her, Sarah becomes another favorite of her teenaged students, creating a special kinship with several of them. Not long after her job begins, however, she is violently raped in her classroom and the principal (Beatty) tries to cover it up to save his own reputation. Sarah’s story allows more stories of violence at the school to come out, as she debates on whether or not to go public with her rape.

 

Very few “women being violated” TV Movies have been as good as The Violation of Sarah McDavid. The only other one that I can think of off hand is Elizabeth Montgomery’s A Case of Rape from several years before.

 

One of the things I like most about this movie is how it doesn’t rush right into the rape and its aftermaths like so many of the genre tend to do. This one builds plenty of character development before the rape scene occurs, halfway through the picture. Having done this, the filmmakers make the audience feel almost as violated as Sarah. Anna makes her so likable, you feel as if this horrific act is being done to an old friend. It is also a film that should be taught in schools to show that school violence can happen, and one shouldn’t be quiet about it when it does.

 

Beatty is excellent as the principal who cares more about himself than the well-being of one of his teacher’s. Anna makes you feel every bit of her character’s pain as you follow her through her journey for justice and the truth. Winner of the prestigious Writer’s Guild Award as the most Outstanding Written Drama Special of the year. Look for future teen stars Stolz and Sheedy as two of Anna’s students.

On a side note: watching the rape scene would be hard for anyone to see, including us Anna fans. Please beware that especially in its unedited state it is something extremely graphic for television or any other medium.

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

 

Frightening depiction of violence in the high school system. When a caring teacher is brutally attacked in her classroom, her principal tries to hush up the incident so his own reputation won’t suffer.

--Steven Scheuer. ***

 

 

By Design (1981)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Sara Botsford, Saul Rubinek

 

Black Canadian comedy about two lesbians who own a fashion studio and one (Anna) wants to become pregnant. After searching several options to no avail, such as artificial insemination, and adoption, they two ladies search for a stud they feel would be perfect to father their child.

 

This film would have worked better as a straight (no pun intended) drama, rather than something that is trying to be funny, but is obviously not. Where the director and writer should be inserting some seriousness and heart, we instead get cheap laughs and sex jokes along with a disgusting pervert, played by Rubinek. Rubinek is after Anna, not knowing she is a lesbian, and this is supposed to be both funny and sexy, according to the filmmakers. He is not only after her, but just about every other woman he can get his hands on, and as the head fashion photographer for the studio, he certainly lays his hands on plenty of women. After one such occurrence, Anna scolds him by asking him “Terry, why’d you grab her ass?” to his reply of “Because it was there”. After the two smart ladies unbelievably decide to try him out as a possible father for their child, he brings Anna to his apartment where he introduces her to a full wall of women’s breasts he has taken of various one night stands. He asks Anna if she can guess what he calls it and she wonders if it’s “Titillation?”

 

Eventually both women get pregnant, on the same night, but neither can come to a sexual climax without calling each other on the phone (or without Anna reading some of Terry’s “Girlie” magazines as he is making love to her). Sadly, one of the ladies miscarries, but in the end both are happy that they have at least one child to love together.

 

Despite my thinking they are not needed in this story, I do think Anna had some of the most hilarious lines of dialogue in her career, such as the ones aforementioned. Another great one is when Botsford asks her about using a sperm bank she quips “You really want to get laid by Darth Vader?”

 

Although I am personally not opposed to nudity in film, I at least ask that it should appear only where it belongs, and several of the nude scenes in this film look as if they are put in simply for shock value and little else. And shock value they got, as most of us Anna fans refer to this as “the one where Anna does the topless scenes.” She looks quite out of place in these particular scenes and also while reciting a lot of her ridiculous dialogue (even the few lines that gave me a chuckle). Several critics also noted that they felt Anna looked quite uncomfortable in her role as a lesbian, which I find totally untrue. Though, if you insist on seeing Anna play a lesbian, I would suggest you pick up a copy of 1965’s “Billie” instead.

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

 

A gay fashion designer decides she wants to be a mother despite the shock waves her decision will cause. Not designed that carefully by the director.

--Steven Scheuer. **

 

 

Something So Right (1982 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Ricky Schroeder, James Farentino, Annie Potts, Fred Dryer, Carole Cook

 

A film which originally aired as part of General Electric Theatre on CBS, this List-Estrin production tells the story of a divorces mother (Anna) who enrolls her hard-to-handle young son (Schroeder) in the Big Brother program so he has a positive male role model in his life, since his father (Dryer) barely ever comes around to see him. At first, neither care much for Arnie (Farentino) but he eventually wins both mother and son over. All seems perfect for young Joey, with his new pal, until Arnie’s relationship with Joey’s mother becomes more serious than Joey would like.

 

Anna has worked several times before, and since, with Farentino and in Something So Right, they further demonstrate what terrific chemistry they have together. This time they share this with Schroeder, who is perfectly cast as the young misfit, Joey. A viewer of this film would honestly believe that these people are related and care deeply for one another.

 

It also proves to be a great chance to see two burgeoning stars, Annie Potts and Fred Dryer, before they hit it big on the small screen.

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

 

Heart-warmer about a divorcee who finds a Big Brother for her troubled son and gets more than she bargained for. The pleasant surprise here is a change-of-image Farentino, as a paunchy, balding middle-aged Joe. Written by Shelley List and Jonathon Estrin.

--Leonard Maltin. Above Average.

 

 

September Gun (1983 TV)

 

 

Robert Preston, Patty Duke Astin, Sally Kellerman, Christopher Lloyd

 

Western tale of an older gunfighter (Preston) who is trying to escort a nun (Anna) and the Apache orphans she has taken in from New Mexico to Colorado. Once they get there, the mission school for the children has been turned into a sleazy saloon, run by Lloyd, and Preston must fight Lloyd to get it back, but in doing so he is putting himself and his aging skills, to the test.

 

Preston and Anna work great together. Both of their characters are complete opposites from one another and they play that off well. He is the no-nonsense gunfighter, but she is the sweet nun, who turns out to be just as no-nonsense as he, and the comedy that ensues on the trip to Colorado is often hilarious to watch. Not being a very big western fan, there is still plenty of comedy in this little gem. Just watch petite Anna, in her nun’s costume, attempt to shoot a riffle and try not to laugh. It’s terrific. Or her quips with Preston as they battle over different ways to do things.

 

Kellerman is perfectly cast as Mama Queen, the Madam of the saloon that the miscast Lloyd runs. Though not the kind of movie that one can watch over and over again, September Gun proves to be great fun nonetheless.

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

 

This offbeat western starts slowly but turns out to be an arresting production. Crusty Preston plays a gunfighter living off past glory who is duped into helping a strong-willed nun care for abandoned Indian children.

--Steven Scheuer. ***

 

 

Best Kept Secrets (1984 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke Astin, Frederic Forrest, Meg Foster, Peter Coyote

 

Laura Dietz (Anna) is a happily married policeman’s wife, who constantly worries about husband on his job and teaches classes to other officers wives on how to handle being married to one and not knowing if today will be the last day you’ll see him.

 

Blaise Dietz (Forrest) is her husband and is passed by on a big promotion that most everyone thought he should’ve gotten. Eventually, it seems that he did not get this promotion because of surveillance being done on his wife and her church who are helping hide illegal aliens in the basement of the church.

When Laura finds out that such surveillance files exist on her and other such pedestrians, she seeks to find out who in the department is in charge of this and why it is happening, much to the chagrin of her husband who doesn’t want to be fired from his job if anyone finds out what his wife is trying to uncover.

 

An intriguing (if sometimes confusing) teleplay by April Smith highlights the wonderful work done by the entire cast of actors. Anna, being the heroine, if you will, of the piece is, as usual, completely true to her role as Laura. The viewer will gladly follow her along her intriguing journey as she uncovers the dirty truth of some of the people she thought she knew best.

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

 

 

George Washington (1984 TV Mini-series)

 

 

Barry Bostwick, Patty Duke Astin, Jaclyn Smith, David Dukes, Kelsey Grammar, Lloyd Bridges, Hal Holbrook, Jose Ferrer, Richard Kiley, James Mason, Rosemary Murphy

 

Epic eight hour miniseries about the father of our country. His life and career from childhood until his presidency are examined in this GM Theatre Presentation. Particular emphasis is given to re-creating many of the battle scenes in which Washington participated. As are his relationships with friends (most notably Dukes) and wife the widow Martha Custis (Anna) and Sally Hemmings, the wife of his best friend, whom he has a secret lust for.

 

Anna received her ninth Emmy nomination for her supporting role as Martha Washington in this mostly historically accurate picture. Through hers and Bostwick’s performances, viewers can see why Martha loves this man the way she does and vice versa. For us Patty Duke fans looking for a lot of Anna, you will not find it here, as the bulk of this movie belongs to Bostwick as the title character. The picture might also take a while to get involved with, and of course is very long, but proves to be quite interesting once things really get going with the story.

 

Anna, by the way, was the only actor out of the hundreds in this production to be nominated in 1984 for an Emmy.

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

 

 

Something Special (1986)

 

 

Pamela Segall, Patty Duke, John Glover, Seth Green

 

Fantasy about a teenaged tomboy named Milly whose wishes of being a boy come true as overnight she grows a penis. She must now decide whether to live her life as a boy or a girl. She is fascinated about the prospect of living life as a boy and tries it, only to fall in love with a boy who is the transformed “Willy’s” buddy and is then more confused than ever.

 

Though the plot is basically absurd, this comedy is still quite fun to watch. There is nothing particularly raunchy in the story that wouldn’t let older kids be able to see this.

 

Segall is perfectly cast as the lead character. She can really make one believe she is a boy in those scenes with the short hair and blue jeans. It’s a tribute to the great acting skills she demonstrates in Something Special.

 

Anna is a hoot as Willy/Milly’s mom, Doris, who desperately wants her daughter to stay on “her side” and stay a female. The scene where Anna uses a soda bottle to explain masturbation to the newly male “Willy” is not to be missed.

 

Also known as Willy/Milly and I Was a Teenaged Boy.

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

 

Cleverly written and brilliantly cast, Something Special is a Hollywood teen transgender comedy about a girl who gets to be a boy. Try to imagine an ABC Afterschool Special with a queer sensibility and a sophisticated sense of humor--Something Special is super fun for boys and girls, and for girls who want to be boys. Milly Niceman gets her "deepest, darkest heart's desire" when she wishes on a magical Indian eclipse powder. She wakes in the middle of the night to discover she's grown "a guy's thing down there." When Mr. and Mrs. Niceman tell her she must choose between being a boy or a girl, she asks innocently, "Can't I be both?" As Muddy Waters sings "Mannish Boy" on the soundtrack, Milly becomes Willy and learns what it means to be a boy: his girlfriend develops a new kind of interest in him, and so does Willy's new pal Alfie (a differently abled boy who refers to his wheelchair as a lunar module). When Alfie confesses his "unnatural desires," Willy goes for the hetero option and decides he wants to be a girl again. Wishing upon a star does the trick, and Alfie and Milly go off together as happy hets. Although the film ultimately doesn't allow for homosexuality as an option, it plays extensively on homoerotic potentials, and has a blast with traditional gender roles. Patty Duke gives an outstanding performance as Mrs. Niceman, and Pamela Seagall is uncannily butch and boyish as Willy (and as Milly). Briefly released in 1986, Something Special quickly disappeared from view and has been unseen theatrically since.

--PlanetOut.com

 

 

A Time to Triumph (1986 TV)

 

 

Patty Duke, Joseph Bologna, Julie Bovasso

 

Fact-based story of a woman whose construction worker husband suffers a major heart attack and she must find a way to support her family. After trying several odd jobs that don’t pay very much, she eventually joins the army and although things are tough for her at first, she eventually gets several promotions and eventually learns how to fly a helicopter. Although she is now making plenty of money for her family, her husband and children are sometimes put on hold for her career and this creates conflict at home.

 

Anna is outstanding as Concetta Hasaan and so is Bologna as her husband, Chuck. Thanks to their great acting chops and the fine writing the viewer feels like that are in the same boat as the Hasaan’s and especially Concetta. Most people would do anything, even things they didn’t much care for, as with Concetta and the Army, just to keep food on the table and that is something very identifiable with Concetta. We also see macho Chuck have to stay at home and take care of the kids, something he never dreamed he’d have to do and that is probably something a lot of men in a similar situation can also relate to.

 

On a side note, Anna met her husband, Sgt. Michael Pearce on the set of this film, as he was a technical advisor hired to teach her to go through a cursory course in basic training.

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

 

 

George Washington: The Forging of a Nation (1986 TV Mini-series)

 

 

Starring Barry Bostwick, Patty Duke, Jeffrey Jones

 

Sequel to the 1984 ratings smash where Anna and Bostwick re-create their roles as the first President and First Lady in the United States’ history. While the first mini-series mostly dealt with George’s battles on the field, this one, at half the length, largely focuses on his home life with Martha and his actual presidency. We see an older and wiser George and Martha here and get a sneak peek into the very early years of our country.

 

Anna gets more of a chance to shine in this mini-series than the previous one. Her on-screen time is much larger but, unlike in the 1984 original, she failed to garner an Emmy nomination for this one. Most consider Forging of a Nation inferior to its predecessor and although Anna does have more screen time, the story loses some of its power and interest. It is still a great way to spend a few hours for Anna and Bostwick fans, getting to see the two of them do some of their best work. Historians will probably also enjoy it due to its accuracy.

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

 

 

Fight For Life (1987 TV)

 

 

Starring Jerry Lewis, Patty Duke, Morgan Freeman

 

Couple struggling with trying to get a drug from Europe approved in the United States for their little girl with epilepsy. The two travel a long journey before they are finally able to get the FDA to approve it and help their child.

 

Potentially interesting but bland re-telling of a true story has Lewis being surprisingly affective in his TV Movie debut. Anna, as always, is very good and Morgan Freeman makes a strong , but brief, appearance as the doctor who finally helps them on their journey. But sometimes it still seems as if it’s a skit on one of Lewis’s telethons, which, by the way, Anna did appear on (and host the New York version) for several years.

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

 

Real-life dentist (Lewis, of all people) and wife fight to save their gravely ill daughter, an epileptic. Typical disease-of-the-week movie with a touch of truly offbeat casting.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

 

Fatal Judgment (1988 TV)

 

 

Starring Patty Duke, Joe Regalbuto, Tom Conti

 

Although "Fatal Judgment," starring Patty Duke, Tom Scotti and Joe Regalbuto was first produced several years ago, I have only recently had the great pleasure of viewing this excellent "torn from the headlines" TV film. If you have not had the opportunity to see this film, I encourage you to go out of your way to find it ... and do so.

This smarter-than-average script concerns a smarter-than-average Boston-area LPN, Anne Capute. As the "low-on-the-totem-pole" nurse, she juggles her family's needs and the work she loves - to tenderly care for her patients. But hospital administrators, local politics and media combine to thwart her, turning her life's-work-dream into a real-life nightmare overnight. At first, she is only suspended from her hospital job. Then the powers that be collude to initiate a series of half-truths and scapegoating tactics, resulting in her being indicted for murdering a terminally ill patient.

As always, Patty Duke is completely compelling to watch as this compelling hospital/courtroom drama unfolds. Ms. Duke's ever-engaging ability as an actress is at full-force work once again, as she cracks into the core of this role and the character's sometimes wise-cracking persona. It's no wonder that Ms. Duke has frequently been referred to by the critics and public alike as the "Queen of TV Movies." If you are lucky enough to view this film, you will more than likely have to check for it on the Lifetime Channel for re-airing.

In supporting roles, Tom Scotti is the uptown lawyer who comes to Capute's defense. His portrayal of the attorney, who is convinced of her innocence before she is, is wonderfully underplayed and appealing to watch. And Joe Regalbuto (of Murphy Brown fame) turns in a fine performance as the working-class husband who wants to help but is tentative, and frightened, by the changes that impact him and his family.

This is a production that features extremely smart scripting, above-par acting and intelligent direction. Within the first ten or fifteen minutes of the film, Ms. Duke's character and plight are tightly drawn through scant, aptly written, dialogue (augmeted by believable, Boston accents and attitudes by the full cast. The writing is similarly tight in its action, accomplished by parallel establishing scenes that quickly draw the audience in to this worth-watching, realistic drama. As Duke exits a car driven up to her house after an initial "media encounter," she pushes through a barrage of TV reporters camped on her lawn, yelling back at them "Leave me alone. I hafta go make dinnah!" Later, in a the first courtroom scene where TV cameras are allowed to videotape, another could-have been-throw-away-line is handled to perfection again by Duke: "Maybe they should get Jane Fawndah to play me, hah?" Another little piece of perfection and example of pretty perfect writing ... perfectly perfomed. There are lots of word-jewels in this splendid script.

In keeping with the terse scenario, veteran director Gil Cates allows the actors to perform without having them "appear" to perform ... and likewise allows the writer's words and well-written characters to emerge, be heard, and impact the audience.

If you haven't seen this film, I encourage you to find it. You will not be sorry to have spent time searching for it on Lifetime - or for the 120 enjoyable minutes of your life you'll gain from watching it. A better-than-average film experience.

--Written for The Official Patty Duke Website by Kathleen Galloway (Video in AU)

 

A practical nurse is indicted for murdering a cancer patient. Is it murder or is it mercy? Screenplay is based on a real event, but ho-hum treatment is anesthetizing.

--Blockbuster Movie Guide. *

 

A licensed practical nurse is indicted for murdering a terminal patient. Drab presentation of a Massachusetts cause celebre, despite Conti’s flamboyant portrayal of a hotshot defense attorney. Based on Gary Provost’s Fatal Dosage, adapted by Gerald Green.

--Leonard Maltin. Average.

 

 

Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace (1988 TV)

 

 

Starring Raymond Burr, Patty Duke, David Ogden Stiers, Barbara Hale

 

Yet another sequel to the successful ‘50s television series has Mason defending a military man who has been framed in a murder.

 

Mostly boring script is given some legs by its stars. This is a great rare glimpse to see Anna as a bad guy, although it is a supporting role. There is not much else worth watching in this unless you are a diehard Perry Mason fan.

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

 

 

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989 TV)

 

 

Starring Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt, Norman Lloyd, Brandy Gold

 

Fourth in the series of films about the infamous haunted Long Island house. This time the action doesn’t take place at the house, but three thousand miles away in California. An ugly antique lamp is bought at a garage sale at the Amityville house by a woman as a gag gift for her sister in California. Unfortunately the lamp is possessed by the devil himself and through the lamp he makes his way to the California home where the woman’s sister and her recently widowed daughter and children come to live. The youngest daughter eventually befriends the lamp believing it holds her dead father’s soul, but in reality it is Satan trying to take possession of the eleven-year-old girl. Can her family and a priest from Amityville save her before it’s too late?

 

Barely a good movie, but as far as the wretched Amityville films go it is one of the best in the series. Television veterans Anna and Wyatt do what they can with the mediocre script that includes black gook coming out of pipes, a possessed lamp and a self-driving plumber’s van. Unfortunately the two actresses are not backup up with a stellar supporting cast with Gold mostly at fault in a flat performance as the daughter of Anna’s who befriends the lamp.

 

Mostly absurd, but good for a few laughs and yes, even some intentional thrills.

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

 

Duke works hard as the latest occupant of the unfriendly house, whose daughter falls under the control of its malevolence. As scare films go, gives this one a B for structure, pace and performance.

--Steven Schuer. ** ½

 

Everybody’s Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1989 TV)

 

 

Starring Beau Bridges, Patty Duke, Roxanna Zal, Pat Hingle, Bo Foxworth

 

Excellent re-creation of the near-tragic 1987 event a baby who gets trapped down a small well in Texas and the race against time to get her out of the well before she loses her life.

 

Anna plays the social worker who is hired to comfort the young child’s mother while the agonizing search continues. Although the audience knows the story has a happy ending, this is still one of the most suspenseful movies ever made. The accident here is something that can happen to anyone’s young child, making watching the ordeal all the more terrifying. The happy ending will bring warm tears of joy to even the coldest heart. As the title says, Jessica McClure is everybody’s baby.

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

 

An ensemble company re-enacts the 1987 rescue of the 18-month-old tot who toppled into an abandoned well in rural Texas. A stunning example (thanks to writer David Eyre, Jr., and director Damski) of how an edge-of-your-seat thriller can be made from a headline-making event to which almost everyone knows the outcome.

--Leonard Maltin. Above Average.

 

**** - TV Guide