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|Seventies & Eighties Made-For-TV Movies - B|
BABE 1975 100 min. Susan Clark, Alex Karras, Slim Pickens, Jeanette Nolan, Ellen Geer, Ford Rainey. Directed by Buzz Kulik. Rich, absorbing film biography of Babe Didrickson Zaharias, America's foremost woman athelete, beautifully played by Clark (who won an Emmy for her performance). Ex-football star Karras offers a sensitive portrayal of her wrestler husband George, under Kulick's imaginative direction. The courageous Babe's tragic story leaves not a dry eye in the house, but the secret ingredient here is taste. Adapted by Joanna Lee from the athelete's autobiography, THIS LIFE I'VE LED. Above average. BABY COMES HOME 1980 100 min. Colleen Dewhurst, Warren Oates, Mildred Dunnock, Devon Ericson, Fred Lehne, David Huffman, James Noble, Dena Dietrich. Directed by Waris Hussein. A middle-aged couple, having raised three children, find themselves parents again in this sequel to AND BABY MAKES SIX (1979). Average. BABY SISTER 1983 100 min. Ted Wass, Phoebe Cates, Hilliard Stern, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Virginia Kiser. Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern. A free-spirited college dropout goes on the make for her sister's boyfriend. The same plot was used 53 years earlier in WHAT MEN WANT -- and it hasn't improved with age. Below average. THE BABYSITTER 1980 100 min. Patty Duke Astin, William Shatner, Quinn Cummings, David Wallace, Stephanie Zimbalist, John Houseman. Directed by Peter Medak. Psychological thriller about the infiltration of a family by a seemingly charming babysitter, who then exploits the needs and vulnerabilities of each member. Promising premise, but a fraud in the end. Average. THE BAIT 1973 73 min. Donna Mills, Michael Constantine, William Devane, June Lockhart, Thalmus Rasulala. Directed by Leonard Horn. A policewoman-widow (Mills) puts herself on the line, demands assignment to a rape-murder case. Adaptation of Dorothy Uhnak's novel has a distasteful point of view, occasional suspense, and unconvincing characters. Average. BANACEK 1972 100 min. George Peppard, Christine Belford, Don Dubbins, Murray Matheson, Ed Nelson, Ralph Manza. Directed by Jack Smight. Boston-based insurance investigator T. Banacek (Peppard) is assigned to an unusual case of a Brinks truck vanishing in the middle of a Texas highway. Some interesting situations, good direction. Above average; pilot for TV series. Now titled DETOUR TO NOWHERE. BANJO HACKETT: ROAMIN' FREE 1976 100 min. Don Meridith, Ike Eisenmann, Jennifer Gloria DeHaven, Anne Francis, L.Q. Jones, Jeff Corey, Jan Murray. Direced by Andrew V. McLaglen. An intinerant horse trader travels the Old West with an orphaned 9-year-old nephew in quest of the youngster's stolen Arabian mare. Episodic film benefits from Meredith's easygoing style, fine supporting cast. Average. BANYON 1971 97 min. Darren McGavin, Jose Ferrer, Herb Eldeman. Directed by Robert Forster. A private-eye (and once time cop) is in hot water with police when a girl is discovered murdered in his office with his gun. Standard, formula plot made interesting by 1930s-era atmosphere, unusually effective use of color and Ed Adamson's no-nonsense script. Above average; pilot for TV series. THE BARBARY COAST 1974 100 min. William Shatner, Dennis Cole, Lynda Day George, John Vernon, Charles Aidman, Michael Ansara, Neville Brand, Bill Bixby. Directed by Bill Bixby. Undercover agent Shatner and casino owner Cole comb boomtown San Francisco for an extortionist. A lighthearted adventure tale that attempted to capture the flair of TV's popular WILD, WILD WEST, and later became a short-lived series under the same title. Average. BARE ESSENCE 1982 200 min. Bruce Boxleitner, Linda Evans, Genie Francis, Lee Grant, Joel Higgins, Donna Mills, Belinda Montgomery, Tim Thomerson, France Benard, John Dehner. Directed by Walter Grauman. Life among glamorous folks in the perfume business. Soap opera supreme, from Meredith Rich's novel, that later spun off into a short-lived series. Originally shown in two parts. Average. THE BASTARD 1978 200 min. Andrew Stevens, Noah Beery, Peter Bonerz, Tom Bosley, Kim Catrall, John Colicos, William Daniels, Buddy Ebson, Lorne Greene, James Gregory, Olivia Hussey, Cameron Mitchell, Harry Morgan, Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker, Donald Pleasance, William Shtner, Barry Sullivan, Keenan Wynn, Raymond Burr (narrator). Directed by Lee H. Katzin. Illegitimate Philip Kent searches through Engalnd and France for his birthright and is ultimately involved in the American Revolution. The first of three adaptations of John Jake's hitorical novels. The REBELS and THE SEEKERS later completed the trilogy. Also called THE KENT CHRONICLES. Originally shown in two parts. Average. THE BEASTS ARE ON THE STREETS 1978 100 min. Carol Lynley, Dale Robinette, Billy Green Bush, Philip Michael Thomas, Anna Lee. Directed by Peter Hunt. Dangerous beasts are accidentally set loose from a wild animal park and thousands panic in a nearby community. Intelligent story stuffers from a medicre script. Average. BEFORE AND AFTER 1979 100 min. Patty Duke Astin, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Feldon, Art Hindle, Rosemary Murphy, Kenneth Mars, Betty White. Directed by Kim Friedman. So-so comedy/drama about a housewife's battle with a weight problem that threatens her marriage. Average. BEGGERMAN, THIEF 1979 200 min. Jean Simmons, Glenn Ford, Lynn Redgrave, Tovah Feldshuh, Andrew Stevens, Bo Hopkins, Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling, Susan Strasberg. Directed by Lawrence Doheny. The further travails of the Jordache family during the late '60s, set against the tinselly Cannes Film Festival. A high-grade soap opera in the tradition of it's multipart predecessor, Irwin Shaw's RICH MAN, POOR MAN. Above average. BELLE STARR 1980 97 min. Elizabeth Montgomery, Ciff Potts, Michael Cavanaugh, Fred Ward, Jesse Vint, Geoffrey Lewis. Directed by John A. Alanzo. The Old West's legendary bandit queen rides again, beautified by Montgomery and played with a none-too-convincing 1980 sensibility. Script by James Lee Barrett. Average. BENNY'S PLACE 1982 100 min. Louis Gossett, Jr., Cicely Tyson, David Harris, Bever-Leigh Banfield, Anna Maria Horsford, Terry Alexander. Directed by Michael Schultz. A powerful Gossett performance ignites this drama about a proud man who finds time nipping at his heels and his job threatened by younger men. Above average. BERLIN AFFAIR 1970 97 min. Darren McGavin, Fritz Weaver, Claude Dauphin, Brian Kelly. Directed by David Lowell Rich. Spotty foreign thriller has OK performances in the story of a murder-for-hire organization. Music by Francis Lai. Situations implausible, forgettable. Below average. BERLIN TUNNEL 21 1981 150 min. Richard Thomas, Horst Buchholz, Jose Ferrer, Jacques Breuer, Nicholas Farrell, Ken Griffith, Ute Christenson. Directed by Richard Michaels. Thomas masterminds an escape under the Berlin Wall with the help of structural engineer Buchholz. John Gay's teleplay is based on Donald Lundquist's riveting novel. Above average. BEST KEPT SECRETS 1984 100 min. Patty Duke Astin, Frederic Forrest, Peter Coyote, Meg Foster, Howard Hesseman, Albert Salmi, Miriam Colon. Directed Jerrold Freeman. A cop's wife stumbles onto the fact that her husband is under investigation when an undercover sting backfires. Average. THE BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD 1981 100 min. Charles Durning, Eva Marie Saint, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Melanie Mayron, Viveca Lindfors, Jason Miller, David Spielberg, Lisa Pelikan. Directed by Sam O'Steen. A model teenager from a middle-class family suffers from anorexia nervosa -- self-induced starvation -- and is slowly killing herself. David Moessinger's teleplay, based on Steven Levenkron's novel, is especially well acted by Durning and Saint as the girl's desperate parents and Miller as her psychiatrist. Above average. BETRAYAL 1978 100 min. Lesley Ann Warren, Rip Torn, Richard Masur, Ron Silver, Bibi Besch, John Hillerman, Peggy Ann Garner. Directed by Paul Wendkos. A young woman brings rape charges against her psychiatrist. Standard TV fare despite veering toward the lurid. Average. BETWEEN FRIENDS 1983 100 min. Elizabeth Taylor, Carol Burnett, Barbara Bush, Stephen Young, Henry Ramer, Bruce Grey, Charles Shamata. Directed by Lou Antonio. Two middle-aged divorcees from totally different backgrounds run into each other -- literally -- and become fast friends. Tour-de-force performances by the two leads, though it's stretching credibility that Carol is the desirable sex object and Liz has trouble getting guys. Adapted by producers Shelley List and Jonathan Estrin from List's novel, NOBODY MAKES ME CRY. Made for cable TV. Above average. THE BIG BLACK PILL 1981 100 min. Robert Blake, James Gammon, Veronica Cartwright, Edward Winter, Carol Wayne, Sondra Blake, Eileen Hechart. Directed by Reza Badiyi. The first of three pilot movies about a rugged private eye facing an unwarranted murder rap; created by Blake after shaking the "Baretta" image. Average. Retitled JOE DANCER. BIG BOB JOHNSON AND HIS FANTASTIC SPEED CIRCUS 1978 100 min. Charles Napier, Maud Adams, Constance Ford, Robert Stoneman, William Daniels. Directed by Jack Starrett. Rambunctious comedy pitting a rag-tag auto racing team against a blackguard in a Rolls-Royce for a run across Louisiana with a fortune at stake. Average. THE BIG RIP-OFF 1975 78 min. Tony Curtis, Brenda Vaccaro, Roscoe Lee Browne, Larry Hagman, John Dehner, Morgan Woodwrd. Directed by Dean Hargrove. Conman Curtis plots an elaborate swindle to recover ransom money from the kidnappers of a millionaire's wife. Reporter Vaccaro and night club performer Browne are his cohorts in this big rip-off of THE STING that evolved into Curtis' short-lived TV series McCOY. Average. BILL 1981 100 min. Mickey Rooney, Dennis Quaid, Largo Woodruff, Harry Goz, Anna Maria Horsford, Kathleen Maguire. Directed by Anthony Page. The Mick is brilliant in the true story of Bill Sackter, a mentally retarded adult who is forced to cope with the world outside the mental institution where he has spent 46 years. Emmys went to Rooney and Cory Blackman's script (from the book by Barry Morrow). Above average. Sequel: BILL ON HIS OWN.
BILL: ON HIS OWN 1983 100 min. Mickey Rooney, Helen Hunt, Teresa Wright, Dennis Quaid, Largo Woodruff, Paul Leiber, Harry Goz. Directed by Anthony Page. Rooney reprises his Emmy-winning role as Bill Sackter, a middle-aged mentally retarded man, in this nearly as luminous sequel to BILL (1981). Above average. THE BILLION DOLLAR THREAT 1979 100 min. Dale Robinette, Ralph Bellamy, Kennan Wynn, Patrick Macnee, Ronnie Carol. Directed by Barry Shear. Lighthearted pilot to a proposed series involving a James Bondish superspy assigned to thwart the plans of a master agent threatening to destroy the planet. Written by Jimmy Sangster. Average. BIRDMEN 1971 73 min. Doug McClure, Chuck Connors, Richard Basehart, Rene Auberjonois, Max Baer, Don Knight, Tom Skerrit. Directed by Philip Leacock. Uninteresting rehash of a POW breakout plot. Captured Allies in a German castle build a glider to fly to freedom in Switzerland ten miles away. Average. Retitled ESCAPE OF THE BIRDMEN. BITTER HARVEST 1981 100 min. Ron Howard, Art Carney, Tarah Nutter, David Knell, Barry Corbin, Richard Dysart. Directed by Roger Young. Director Young and writer Richard Friedenberg received Emmy nominations for this illuminating drama about a young dairy farmer's race to identify a deadly chemical that is killing his cattle and bringing a strange illness to his child. Above average. BJ AND THE BEAR 1978 100 min. Greg Evigan, Claude Akins, Mills Watson, Penny Peyser, Julius Harris. Directed by John Peyser. Pilot to the hit series (that later spun off SHERIFF LOBO) puts an independent trucker and his traveling buddy, a fun-loving chimp, at odds with a slightly corrupt sheriff who is involved with white slavery. Average. BLACK MARKET BABY 1977 100 min. Linda Purl, Desi Arnaz, Bill Bixby, Jessica Walter, David Doyle, Tom Bosley. Directed by Robert Day. An unmarried couple struggle with a black market adoption ring out to take their baby. Unpleasantly expoitative social drama done better as a sleazy B movie of yore. Based on the novel A NICE ITALIAN GIRL by Elizabeth Christman. Below average. BLACK WATER GOLD 1969 75 min. Keir Dullea, Lana Wood, Ricardo Montalban, Bradford Dillman, France Nuyen. Directed by Alan Landsburg. Fairly intense (for TV) story of various forces vying for the sunken Spanish galleon treasure of Panama Eagles. Above average. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT 1980 100 min. Kristy McNichol, Michael McGuire, Jenny O'Hara, Phillip Allen, Keith Andes. Directed by John A. Alanzo. Kristy tries to rescue her brother (played by real-life brother Jimmy) from a religious cult that has brainwashed him. Based on the novel by Robin F. Brancato. Average. BLOOD FEUD 1983 200 min. Robert Blake, Cotter Smith, Danny Aiello, Edward Albert, Brian Dennehy, Ernest Borgnine, Jose Ferrer, Forrest Tucker, Michael V. Gazzo, Michael C. Gwynne, Nicholas Pryor, Sam Groom. Directed by Mike Newell. Blake's in his glory as Jimmy Hoffa in this depiction of the lengthy conflict between the Teamsters Union leader and Robert Kennedy (played by newcomer Cotter Smith). Originally shown in two parts. Above average. BLOODSPORT 1973 73 min. Ben Johnson, Larry Hagman, Gary Busey. Directed by Jerrold Freedman. A young boy (Busey) groomed by his father to become a pro football player in an exceptional combination character study and drama. Written by Freedman. Above average. THE BLUE KNIGHT 1975 78 min. George Kennedy, Alex Rocco, Glynn Turman, Verna Bloom, Michael Margotta, Seth Allen. Directed by J. Lee Thompson. Kennedy assumes the role of Bumper Morgan (which he later played in a weekly series) as he searches for the killer of an aging fellow officer. Kennedy puts his own stamp on the role, but the story and approach are definitely formula. Average. BOGIE 1980 100 min. Kevin O'Connor, Kathryn Harrold, Ann Wedgeworth, Patricia Barry, Alfred Ryder, Donald May, Richard Dysart, Arthur Franz. Directed by Vincent Sherman. Unappealing biopic of Humphrey Bogart, boringly acted by players hired for their resemblance to Bogart, Bacall, and Mayo Methot, and limply directed by Sherman, who years earlier directed several Bogart movies. Script by Doniel Taradash. Below average. THE BORGIA STICK 1967 100 min. Don Murray, Fritz Weaver, Inger Stevens, Barry Nelson. Directed by David Lowell Rich. A grim susupense thriller by A.J. Russell exposing organized crime involvement in the U.S. economy. Fine cast, particularly Weaver, works very well. Above average. BORN BEAUTIFUL 1982 100 min. Erin Gray, Ed Marinaro, Polly Bergen, Lori Singer, Ellen Barber, Judith Barcroft, Michael Higgins. Directed by Harvey Hart. Models trying to make big bucks in the Big Apple's fashion game. Average. BORN TO BE SOLD 1981 100 min. Lynda Carter, Harold Gould, Dean Stockwell, Ed Nelson, Lloyd Haynes, Donna Wilkes, Philip Sterling, Sharon Farrell. Directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. A social worker goes after an illegal baby-selling operation in this exploitative movie "suggested by" Lynn McTaggart's book THE BABY BROKERS. Average. THE BOUNTY MAN 1972 73 min. Clint Walker, Richard Basehart, John Ericson, Margot Kidder, Arthur Hunnicutt, Gene Evans. Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. Surprisingly somber Western with a nihilistic point of view. Man-hunter Kincaid (Walker) chases a young killer to an isolated valley town, in turn chased by a gang of cutthroats. Jim Byrnes' script provides good complications. Above average. THE BRADY GIRLS GET MARRIED 1981 100 min. Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Susen Olsen, Jerry Houser, Eve Plumb. Directed by Peter Baldwin. Pilot to the short-live BRADY BRIDES series, which recycled THE BRADY BUNCH (1969-74) with two of the girls marrying in a double wedding and sharing a rambling old house with their new husbands. Average. BRAVE NEW WORLD 1980 150 min. Keir Dullea, Bud Cort, Julie Cobb, Ron O'Neal, Lee Chamberlain, Kristoffer Tabori, Marcia Strassman, Dick Anthony Williams, Victoria Racimo. Directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. Dissapointing adaptation of Aldous Huxley's novel about life 600 years in the future. Strange sci-fi mix of drama and comedy in Savageland. Average. THE BRAVOS 1971 100 min. George Peppard, Peter Duel, Pernell Roberts, Belinda J. Montgomery, L.Q. Jones, Barry Brown, Vincent Van Patten. Directed by Ted Post. Standard Western centering around a regular officer assigned to command a small fort following the end of the Civil War. Average. BREAKOUT 1975 96 min. Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Jill Ireland, John Huston, Sheree North, Randy Quaid. Directed by Tom Gries. Crisp action film generously laced with comedy touches has devil-may-care bush pilot Bronson taking on the job of spiriting Duvall, framed for murder, from a seedy Mexican prison. Awfully violent, though. BRENDA STARR 1978 78 min. Jill St. John, Jed Allan, Sorrell Brooke, Tabi Cooper, Victor Buono, Barbara Luna, Torin Thatcher. Directed by Mel Stuart. An intrepid comic strip newspaperwoman -- played floridly by curvaceous St. John -- becomes involved in voodoo, extortion, and strange doings in the jungles of Brazil. Played too straight to be fun. Below average. BRIDGER 1976 100 min. James Wainwright, Ben Murphy, Dirk Blocker, Sally Field, John Anderson, William Windon. Directed by David Lowell Rich. Predictable western about legendary mountain man Jim Bridger (Wainwright) who blazes a trail through the Rockies to California in 1830. Cliches and stereotypes bury the action element; subsequently cut to 78 min. Average. BRINKS: THE GREAT ROBBERY 1976 100 min. Carl Betz, Stephen Collins, Burr DeBenning, Michael Gazzo, Cliff Gorman, Darren McGavin, Art Metrano, Leslie Nielsen, Jenny O'Hara. Directed by Marvin Chomsky. The legendary Boston Brinks' holdup of January 17, 1950, is meticulously restaged, masterminded by McGavin and Gorman, and judged the perfect crime until solved by the FBI. Average. BROCK'S LAST CASE 1972 100 min. Richard Widmark, Henry Darrow, Beth Brickell, David Huddleston, Will Geer, John Anderson, Michael Burns. Directed by David Lowell Rich. An N.Y.C. policeman disenchanted with big city life relocates in a small town looking for peace and quiet but finds himself in the same predicament. Decent premise doesn't work out. Average. BROKEN PROMISE 1981 100 min. Chris Sarandon, Melissa Michaelsen, George Coe, McKee Anderson, David Haskell, Sondra West, Marc Alaimo. Directed by Don Taylor. A juvenile-court officer tries to cut through red tape to keep five abandoned children together as a family. Stephen Kandel's script was based on a book by Kent Hayes and Alex Lazzarino, which dramatizes the plight of neglected children in the foster-care system. Average. BUD AND LOU 1978 100 min. Harvey Korman, Buddy Hackett, Michele Lee, Arte Johnson, Robert Reed. Directed by Robert C. Thompson. The major intent of this hackneyed biopic on Abbott and Costello is portraying Lou as an s.o.b., but its fatal flow is Hackett and Korman's painfully unfunny renderings of classic A&C routines. Below average. THE BUNKER 1981 150 min. Anthony Hopkins, Piper Laurie, Richard Jordan, Susan Blakely, Cliff Gorman, James Naughton, Michael Lonsdale. Directed by George Schaefer. Hopkins won an Emmy for his chiling portrayal of Adolf Hitler in this adaptation by John Jay of the James P. O'Donnell book depicting the Third Reich's final days. Piper Laurie was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance as Magda Goebbels. Above average.
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