Last week came Hollywood news that Lou Gossett Jr. and James Caan will team up for a boxing movie. Long before ABC's gay male parents on the sitcom, Modern Family, there was That Certain Summer. Hal Holbrook starred as the loving, divorced father who came out and was now living in San Francisco. Martin Sheen played his partner.
That's how my mind worked back then when I was a student. One feature we talked about at school for days was Trilogy of Terror. It was just too damn cool and spooky!
Another popular ABC movie was Duel. Steven Spielberg, in his early 20s, directed this original TV thriller starring Dennis Weaver. Spielberg had not yet started directing Hollywood feature films such as Sugarland Express and Jaws. Weaver played a Southern California suburban man terrorized on the long, open road by a diesel truck.
McGavin also played an investigator named Kolchak, a guy on the beat of the occult in The Night Stalker.
Bing Crosby was one of the biggest stars of Hollywood and the pop music business. He won the Best Actor of 1944 Oscar for playing a priest in Going My Way. He topped that performance with his portrayal of a co-dependent alcoholic has-been actor/singer attempting a comeback in The Country Girl. He went to the dark side in that performance and totally deserved his Oscar nomination for Best Actor of 1954. His final performance was in an ABC Movie of the Week. It was one of his strongest performances since The Country Girl. He plays a New England M.D. with a very dark side in Dr. Cook's Garden.
This thriller paired the Hollywood legend with a new actress named Blythe Danner.
Jackie Cooper and Eleanor Parker were starring in movies before Sally Field was born. She acted with them when she played a teen runaway who returns to the suburbs in Maybe I'll Come Home In The Spring...
...and Julie Harris.
This yuletide murder mystery TV script was written by Joseph Stefano, the man who wrote the iconic screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Psycho. Here's some more trivia about that: Did you ever see Cabaret? This stars two women who played Sally Bowles. Jill Haworth (seen in the black hat) played Sally Bowles in the original Broadway cast of Cabaret in the 1960s. Julie Harris played Sally in the 1955 movie I Am a Camera, based on the Christopher Isherwood stories.
One sci-fi horror thriller that was so cheesy it became a guilty pleasure to watch starred Patty Duke...
...and former MGM musical comedy star, June Allyson.
One of them may have the power to turn into a giant bug at night in The Curse of the Black Widow.
Sid Caesar co-stars. Anthony Franciosa is the hero who solves the mystery of macho studs being punctured and killed. You need Margaritas and snacks to sit through this one. And a couple of friends to laugh with you at Patty's Eastern European accent. There were lots of ABC Movies of the Week. They introduced us to new faces like Nick Nolte's and presented fabulous familiar faces like Fred Astaire's. A number of TV series got their starts as a MOTW (Movie of the Week).
Each MOTW ran under 90 minutes. We got some pretty good entertainment in the 1970s in a short amount of TV movie time. They weren't all classics but many were highly entertaining. The Night Stalker inspired the creator of TV's The X-Files. I'd get big retro kicks seeing some of them repeated in prime time again. And today's film students could learn an Old School thing or two from a solid feature like Spielberg's Duel. Only 75 minutes long -- and it's way better than last year's big sci-fi production, Prometheus.
Did you have any favorites in the MOTW line-up?