US, 1977, 96 minutes, Colour.
Leigh Mc Closkey, Eve Plumb, Juliet Mills, Earl Holliman, Jean Hagen, Lonny Chapman.
Directed by John Erman.
Alexander and Dawn are two complementary telemovies. Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, was a successful telemovie portraying a young girl with difficulties at home going to Los Angeles and becoming a victim of oppressive circumstances, unemployment. She becomes a prostitute, is under the oppressive rule of a pimp and experiences brutality. She also encounters a kindly homosexual young man, Alexander, and they fall in love. Alexander in his love tries to defend her and is beaten up.
Alexander, The Other Side of Dawn, follows from this particular incident but gives us the background to Alexander's life. He also has a difficult home background and comes to Los Angeles. He becomes involved in male prostitution for rich women as well as for homosexual activities including a relationship with a football star. The background of the police, the courts, therapy are to the fore in both films. They are made for the home television audience and are successful in giving an authentic background, as well as dealing with squalid situations in a way that is acceptable for home viewing as well as providing insight into real social problems.
Eve Plumb is very good as Dawn as is Leigh Mc Closky as Alexander. They appear in both films. There are strong supporting casts in each of the films including Lynn Carlin as Dawn's mother and Bo Hopkins as the pimp. Earl Holiman is a social worker in Alexander. Juliet Mills appears as a rich woman in the latter film. The direction of Dawn is by Randall Kleiser, director of such telemovies as The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and of the film Grease. The second film was directed by John Erman.
1. The impact of this human drama, portrait of a troubled human being ugly aspects of society? How truthful and authentic? The film as a warning?
2. The quality of the film as a telemovie? style, content especially for home-viewing? Creating an atmosphere of realism without over-sordidness for the wide television audience?
3. The presentation of Los Angeles, colour photography? Los Angeles as a symbol of the United states? Bright, ugly, surface? The world of the night? Musical score, songs? Editing, pacing?
4. How well could the audience identify with the film, the characters situations? The response of parents? The response of the adolescent audience? The presentation of home situations arid difficulties, family pressures? The adolescent seeking something away from home? The inadequacies of coping with such situations; Temptations, risks? the possibility of help? Low self-image, hope?
5. How well did the film stand as interesting entertainment on its own? As a continuation of the film 'Dawn’? How well did it take up the threads of 'Dawn' even though there were different writers and directors?
6. The impact of Alexander as a person? seeing him being beaten, remembering him for his kindness and friendship towards Dawn, his love for her? The hospital situation and this as a base for his memories? How well did the film show the situation at home, his capacity for hard work, his art? The severity of his father, his mother's love but helplessness? his being made to leave home? leaving with discontentment, with hopes for the future?
7. Alexander and his work as a prostitute? His arrest? The encounter with Bay and his going to the meeting, his hostility towards such communication? How well did the film present him and his work, the sessions and their therapeutic help? His leaving this way of help and going back with his friend and the ambiguous way of living?
8. The continued memory of his love for Dawn? The audience seeing her at home, her loneliness, seeing her at school and the antagonisms there, the loneliness of her birthday, the phone calls? The sequence of her being found out and her reaction? The repercussions for her in her home town? Her leaving?
9. Alexander and his lies? As regards his family, his mother and the phone calls? His lies to Dawn? Visualizing his destitution, hunger, sleeping in the playground yard, his presence in the art gallery?
10. The significance of the encounter with. Chuck? The gallery, the approach? The character of Chuck in himself, his sporting reputation, his fans, his macho image? The encounter, the eating? The drive, the swim, photography? The proposition and the offer to set up house? Alexander's reasons for accepting it? The present of the easel? The relationship between the two, friendship, love, sexuality? The night out at the Gay Club? Chuck and the advice about his reputation? The money situation? Chuck and his taking on another young man? Alexander reaction, jealousy? The drug situation and Chuck using Alexander? The party, the police following him, the arrest and its repercussions? Chuck's honourable attitude in defending Alexander? The comment on homosexual relationships, permanence and transience? Society and reaction?
11. Ray and his continued interest in Alexander? Ray and the homosexual background? The judge and the condemnation of Alexander, her letting him go and the reasons for it? His reappearing before her? The lawyers and their comments? His own appeal and its significance? the judge's prudence and judgment in dealing with him?
12. His decision to go, the coincidence of Dawn's arrival? the crisis and the possibility of their missing one another? The happy ending and the build-up of hopes? An appropriate ending for this kind of film?
13. How well drawn was the character of Alexander? A victim of circumstances? The weakness of his character? Moral situations?
14. A film of insight, awareness? Authentic? A picture of the contemporary world? Hope amid squalor?