Scorpion Releasing // 1983 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // May 17th, 2013
David: "She's the good daughter and you're the bad daughter, is that
Annie: "Yeah, that's about it."
Nineteen year old Annie (Phobe Cates, I Love You To Death), has impulsively dropped out of college somewhere back east, the latest in a series of poor life decisions sure to ensure the perpetual disapproval of her father (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., The F.B.I.), which is why she has no plans to tell him about it. She also has no plans for continuing her education, for finding a place to live, for supporting herself with a job, or even for what she'll be doing tomorrow, for that matter. Stepping off a Greyhound Bus in downtown Los Angeles, she seeks refuge in the cozy little apartment of her older, more reasonable sister Marsha (Pamela Bellwood Serial).
Sweet, understanding Marsha. Patient, thoughtful and kind Marsha. Beautiful, brilliant, never-disappointing-her-Daddy, and always heading-in-the-right-direction Marsha. Marsha's more than happy to put her little sis up for a while, but she's also under a lot of stress these days, preparing for the big opening of her very first art gallery. Exciting as it all is, the work keeps her away from home a lot lately, so when Annie arrives, she hands her the keys to the apartment and explains that her brilliant, beautiful fiancé, Dr. David Mitchell (Ted Wass, Blossom might be there, in between shifts at the Beachside Medical Clinic.
And there he is: opening the door in a pair of painted-on blue jeans, shirtless, and gleaming with a mist of manly sweat on his muscled chest, arms and torso. "Whatever you're selling, I'm buying!" he says in greeting, a wide smile spreading across his handsome face.
A series of lingering looks pass between Annie and David over the next couple days, as an oblivious Marsha zips in and out. Annie spends some fruitless time tramping the streets of L.A., looking for employment to no avail. Then one evening, David comes home and informs her that the clinic has just lost its receptionist, and the job is Annie's if she wants. She wants.
The hours are long, the stream of patients never-ending, and occasionally one of them won't make it. All of which leads to an extremely vulnerable moment between doctor and receptionist, where they realize how truly alone everyone is, and how fleeting life can be, and he's a man, and she's a woman...
By the way, there's something nobody's quite explained to David before about the chill between Annie and her father. Something about the day her mother was killed by a passing car, with Annie witnessing from the sidewalk. Ever since, things went from bad to worse between father and daughter. Could there be a dark and sinister secret buried here?
Oh, and by the way, the clinic is occasionally targeted by drug addicts, desperate to raid the medicine cabinets, and willing to inflict violence on anyone who gets in their way. Hey, did I mention that young Annie has been hiding real talent as an artist herself? I guess all these little narrative cul-de-sacs are the inevitable result of employing three screen writers to knock out an otherwise paper-thin movie-of-the week script. Too bad none of them wind up leading towards the trashy, lust-fueled tale of sibling rivalry and betrayal one expects from seeing the deliciously come-hither smile of Phoebe Cates on the box cover. Too tame by a long shot is the real story here, unfortunately.
On the bright side, Scorpion Entertainment has unearthed a surprisingly clean and crisp full-screen print with an equally strong Dolby 2.0 Mono mix. No subtitles. No extras.
Don't die wondering how real desperate American housewives bade farewell to the first weekend of March 1983. By releasing Baby Sister, a thirty year old ABC Sunday Night Movie on DVD, those fine Scorpion folks have reserved you a seat on the way-back machine, set for those carefree days of feathered hair, flash dancing, and four distinct and easily discernible seasons per year.
Of course, if you've never wondered how real desperate American housewives kept their televisions warm in the dwindling hours of 6 March 1983, you're not missing much.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated