Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice (1982)

TV Movie   |    |  Biography, Drama

Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice (1982) Poster

This made-for-television movie is a dramatization of the life of the founder of Los Angeles's first alcoholic recovery center for women, Beatrice O'Reilly.


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10 June 2018 | drednm
| Remarkable Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett plays it straight in this film. She plays a falling-down drunk named Beatrice O'Reilly. The film opens with her being released from the local drunk tank after she's been booked for public drunkenness. Her husband (Lloyd Bridges) picks her up and the first thing she does, after promising to never drink again, is to find a hidden bottle of hooch she's stashed away.

It's 1943 and her family from Texas visits as one of the sons is off to war. Already drunk as she prepares the meal, she walks in and slops the platter of food on the floor. She picks it up and serves it anyway.

On another night, she's quarreled with the husband and gone out to a bar where she's picked up by a sailor. He passes out as she careens around town. Eventually she opens the door and shoves him out onto the ground.

She spends time in a sanitarium to dry out and goes right back to drinking when she gets home. Eventually she's so sick and jittery she can't function. While the husband is out of town for work, she breaks down and calls AA for help.

The road back is not an easy one for Beatrice, but she has the help of an AA worker (Marian Mercer) and local cops (Geoffrey Lewis, Conchata Ferrell) who help her open a "recovery house" for alcoholic women. Her salvation comes through helping others.

Burnett is terrific. She did some great work in TV movies like FRIENDLY FIRE, THE TENTH MONTH, BETWEEN FRIENDS, and this ranks as one of her best performances. Co-stars are all good but this is Burnett's film all the way.

Hard to find, but worth the effort.

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