28 July 2016 | moonspinner55
"Getting fired is not a dishonorable exit...at least you didn't quit."
Shirley Jones plays the new English teacher at a maternity house for pregnant, unwed teenage girls in this well-meaning ABC-TV movie-of-the-week. Jones (who was just finishing her reign as one of the coolest television moms, Shirley Partridge, on "The Partridge Family") easily slides into this melodramatic scenario, which at times feels like a reform school movie with all the inmates about to deliver. Jones has been hired by the administration despite not having her "special degree"--and yet, we never see her actually teach. Instead, director Alf Kjellin and writer Paul Savage open the film with a flurry of hysterical activity that doesn't help us get our bearings, and put their remaining interest in rebellious flower child Sissy Spacek and her determination to get the cold-fish teacher where she lives. With its TV-movie time restraint and low-end budget, the movie's dramatic impetus (the teacher learning to feel and the headstrong student making a life-changing decision) is barely allowed to bloom. Still, Spacek (who also sings and plays the guitar) gives a solid performance; her character isn't particularly likable or sympathetic, yet the actress is full of vitality and cynical wisdom, along with a youthful Mother Earth quality that makes her line-readings wry and ironic. Jones gives the movie its foundation, but Spacek gives it a driving force of personality. It's too bad the narrative is squashed and the individual scenes are not allowed to build, causing Pamela Sue Martin, Tina Andrews and the other girls to look like also-rans.