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Video Rewind: Movie(s) of the Week Part 3

Frederica "Freddy" Morgan (Jessica Walter) knows what's like being with family for the holidays

Frederica "Freddy" Morgan (Jessica Walter) knows what's like being with family for the holidays

For 2021, Christmas is coming early as the Morgan sisters are summoned back home by their father Benjamin (Walter Brennan) because he thinks his new wife, Elizabeth (Julie Harris) is trying to kill him.

It's been years since the sisters have been together in this dysfunctional family and no one wants to be there.

Alex (Eleanor Parker) is the oldest and has always tended to be the motherly one after their mother died. She's always been more protective of youngest sister Chris (Sally Field) and often leads her astray.

Middle sisters Freddy (Jessica Walter) and Joanna (Jill Haworth) have tried to distance themselves from the family. Freddy finds comfort in the bottle and Joanna with her career.

When the sisters arrive during a rainstorm, Ben gathers them into his room and tells them that Elizabeth has been slowly poisoning him and she wants his fortune. He thinks that by having extra "eyes" around she'll stop her reign of terror.

The girls learn that Elizabeth has been acquitted of murder, but it doesn't get her off the hook. They are all suspicious of her, yet Chris tries to welcome her into the family without much success. She tries to get to know her and her siblings are frowning upon it.

It doesn't take long before Joanna announces that she's leaving (a bad idea) and the next morning it appears that Freddy has accidently drowned in the tub.

On Christmas morning, Dr. Ted Lindsay (John Fink) stops by to check on Ben and becomes infatuated with Chris, since he hasn't seen her in awhile.

With the phones and bridge about to be washed out, he checks on Ben and leaves, but hours later Ben is dead and the others have to figure out how to get help.

Chris is chased through the woods and back again at the house and heads back into the woods hoping to outwit the Morgan family killer.

While the movie is a little campy (Eleanor Parker should have received an Emmy for her wailing!) it's still a good thriller for a made for TV movie.

There are twists and turns which make this an excellent movie.

Suzanne Zenor (Heidi) maintains her shape as Stockard Channing (Miriam) gives Heidi her messages

Suzanne Zenor (Heidi) maintains her shape as Stockard Channing (Miriam) gives Heidi her messages

Miriam Knight (Stockard Channing) has transferred from five schools in three years hoping to meet a man while increasing her GPA.

For her, it's the same as she always leaves a school manless and she's hoping that this time it will be different and it is since she does manage to get a date with football stud Moose Myers (Larry Wilcox) and has a very popular roommate Heidi Murphy (Suzanne Zenor).

As a permanent messenger taker for former popular roommates, Miriam takes a message for Heidi from a guy named Fred (Daniel Spelling) and meets him at the local poolhall. Once he takes a look at her, he denies that it's him and he and his friends sneak out while the other patrons laugh at her.

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After she's left at the drive-in by Moose and walking thirty miles back to the dorm, Heidi won't let her into the room since she's "studying" and the next day winds up with a cold, where she meets Dr. Ted Gates (Fred Grandy) who does more than treat the infection.

Again, Miriam is humiliated, but there's a bright side when she's given the lead in a play by Professor Tilson (Jim Backus).

On opening night and during the performance, Miriam opens up what is supposed to be an empty box, but there's a dozen roses in it. Miriam is allergic to them and as she's under siege with an attack of sneezing, the audience begins to laugh and she runs off stage and gets into a head on collision.

While recuperating, the swan in her comes out and while bedridden, has begun to plan her revenge. And that she does.

From student to serial killer, Miriam begins to go after those who did her wrong and with all of her past schooling is able to get away with her plan.

After recently watching this again, it still holds up nearly fifty years later and the performances are top notch. You can't help but feel sorry for ugly Miriam and if you didn't know, this black comedy was co-written by Joan Rivers, so expect some good lines in it.

Denny (Janit Baldwin) checks out Chris (Linda Blair) as she's being escorted by Lasko (Allyn Ann McLerie) to her room

Denny (Janit Baldwin) checks out Chris (Linda Blair) as she's being escorted by Lasko (Allyn Ann McLerie) to her room

The talk around school on Wednesday, September 11, 1974, was one thing. It was about meeting the fictional "Johnny" which brought about a lot of controversy.

In this movie, Linda Blair stars as Chris Parker, a habitual runaway who's turned over to the courts at her parents request. Chris can't believe this is happening but ends up in reform school and tries to get her life together.

Originally when she was picked up, she met Josie (Tina Andrews) and the two meet up again at school. Josie tells her that it's not as bad as it seems, but Chris ends up having to deal with Moco (Nora Heflin) and Denny (Janit Baldwin) two of the meanest girls around.

As Chris adjusts to life on the inside, she does get her life together and is granted a few days away from the school. But things go downhill from there.

At home, she has to deal with her abusive father (Richard Jaeckel) and her mother (Kim Hunter) who goes through life with blinders on.

While Chris' home life doesn't show any improvement, she runs away again to her older brother Tom's house in Phoenix. Since Tom (Mitch Vogel) knows about the circumstances in the Parker home, he tells her that she can't live with him since he and his wife have a newborn and his employment situation has been changing. He tells her that he's struggling and while he wishes that he could help her, he can't at this time.

What Chris doesn't know is that the police have been waiting for her and she turns her back on Tom as she's taken back to school.

With all of this built up hostility, she takes part in inciting a disturbance at school and starts to hang out with Moco and Denny's gang.

It's still a very controversial movie and it's surprising that a lot of material had gotten past the censors, but this movie was one of the first cautionary tales about what could happen if you went against authority.

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