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SWEET HOSTAGE
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Reviewed by: Matt Withers

Directed by: Lee Philips

Starring:
Martin Sheen
Linda Blair

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
An escaped mental patient kidnaps a young girl and attempts to learn her some things. Not like that you pervs. Poetry and imagination and whatnot. It's actually a kind of sweet tale of love driven by Stockholm Syndrome in a secluded mountain cabin. Wait, what?
Is it good movie?
I was pleasantly surprised by how watchable this mid-70's TV movie turned out to be. Especially after the opening gave me cheesy music and and flat camera work. We also see Martin Sheen at the beginning, a great actor for sure, chewing scenery like a beaver on a wood farm. Knowing he was paired with Linda Blair, who is not someone I think of when compiling lists of great actresses, had me very concerned for the next 90 minutes of my future.

Fortunately as soon as we meet Linda, playing sassy and irascible youth Doris Mae, the whole thing picks up. She's got an easy likableness to her that pulls you right in. She also presents a nice mixture of inexperience and hard headedness that make her a very believable teen. Her desire to escape a small town life ultimately makes her growing affection for the mercurial Sheen a progression that feels organic instead of forced by the screenplay.

Martin, as the insane and possibly dangerous Leonard Hatch, basically gets to play Hamlet in an abbreviated form here. The role is clearly inspired by the Dane, and you can see Sheen attack it with the relish you'd imagine. It's a little too convenient how he seems to turn the crazy on and off depending on what is demanded at the time, but it's a small quibble.

Mostly what we have here is a tight little character study that feels as much like a play as it does a movie. Occasional distracting subplots take away from the enjoyment of the whole, but if you've got some time to kill it's well worth a look.

Video / Audio
Video: Full Screen 4x3

Audio: Dolby Digital

The Extras
None
Last Call
Who knew Linda Blair was such a good actress? This actually made me sad that she was so typecast after THE EXORCIST, because she shows tons of unrealized potential here. As to the overall experience, I dug this despite its flaws. When a film project makes you want to read the book it's based on then you know it can't be too bad.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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