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Category:    Home > Reviews > Born Innocent (Telefilm)

Born Innocent


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: D     Telefilm: C+



In what is an attempt to be shocking and attempt to examine a societal problem that would likely not get made as both today as a theatrical film, Linda Blair starred in Born Innocent (1974).  This was a telefilm on commercial network broadcast television that dealt with a young 14-year-old (Blair) as a multiple runaway.  At every turn, no one understands her problems and there is not access to anyone who can help.


We later find out why she left, because of the hostile, dysfunctional, toxic and awful parents she has.  The father being angry, the mother accusatory.  It is a while before we discover that, or even that she has a brother.  We see her isolated and gong through a system that is cold and hopeless.  The charm of this telefilm is the assumption about secure families before the problems with families came blaring out further as the 1980s ideology struggled to hold the truth back with lies and 1950s-type “back to the family” archetypes that had long failed and failed to deal with the reasons we had problems to begin with.


Things get worse when she gets gang raped with a broom handle!  Yes, you read that right, and in a TV movie of all things.  Even as limited as it is, the scene is still very ugly and graphic, but is also sadly a too-common story that happens al the time.  The later cliché in films about gangs is that non-participation leads to rape, but there is no gang here, just a group of institutionalized bad girls.  Even more disturbing as compare dot today, the situation looks like “the good old days” before things got far worse.  The film was a warning, like so many other great socially aware films of the 1970s, but the 1980s “don’t worry, be happy” attitude wiped away any chances of getting many of these bad situations out of control and we are now paying the price profoundly.


Despite such events, the film drags on longer than it should and director Donald Wrye has some pacing troubles.  The resolution of the rape is very limited and problematic, showing that this was definitely made by men who thought they were being sensitive.  Other cast members who help Blair’s sometimes awkward performance include Joanna Miles, Kim Hunter, Richard Jaeckel, Janit Baldwin and some determined unknowns.  It runs 99 minutes.


The full frame, color image is above average, looking fairly good for a TV movie from its time, with few problems on the actual print.  At least it was shot on film.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a bit weaker than expected, but will carry the dialogue well enough.  We have heard TV movies form this time sound better on DVD, so the sound is simply down a few generations.  Extras include three biography pieces on three of the actresses and trailers to other VCI DVD titles.  Too bad Blair and company could not have done a commentary, maybe with an expert on women in TV and media.  Though not a classic, Born Innocent is from a time that TV took risks, and that alone makes it worth seeing.  You will have to decide whether you agree with its conclusions or not.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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