After a few years of fruitlessly trying to find this film, I finally won the jackpot when I found it on DVD (with the title "Deadly Justice") and at a decent price!!! I had read Video Movie guides and all of the reviews for this movie were very positive and encouraging. I knew that with the late, great Richard Crenna on board (truly deserving the Emmy he won for this performance, and he was the king of TV movies) this was a must-see.
For the time, this film was quite daring (with the exception of such movies as "Deliverance") and very realistically acted. Crenna is fantastic as the chauvinistic, inconsiderate, hardened cop who believes that sexual assault victims "bring it on themselves". His attitude does not serve him well when he is re-assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit in his precinct. He cracks offensive jokes after trying to remove a nude rape victim from a phone booth who is incoherent with fear. He undergoes a transformation and an attitude adjustment after he is beaten and brutally attacked by two criminal sadists. Thankfully, because this movie was made for TV in the mid-80s, we are not exposed to the graphic details of the rape, nor are any given later on in the statements that Richard Beck makes. But, truthfully, we don't need to be shown. We know what he's gone through, as he experiences everything that rape victims face - and perhaps, because he is both a straight male and a cop - even more. He realizes that people look at him differently, especially his partners and most notably, his father. His dad cannot understand why Beck didn't do more to stop the attack, and Richard realizes, after going through the denial phase, that what happened to him was not his fault, despite what people say. He flashbacks to the assault, alienates his girlfriend, and has to answer embarrassing questions (as all sexual assault victims who report the crime do), like, has he ever had homosexual relations before? His ordeal transforms him into a more aware and sensitive individual who sees that the medieval attitudes toward rape need to change. What I thought was a nice touch was his rescuing a woman from a rapist, his ex-wife and children being the most supportive of him, going over his partner's objections of identifying his attackers, and finally, speaking to the cadets in the Police Academy, spreading awareness, concern and knowledge.
It was also great to see two 80s TV moms in the same film (Meredith Birney of "Family Ties" and Joanna Kerns of "Growing Pains"). Pat Hingle was great as Beck's father, and Frances Lee McCain was compassionate as Beck's ex-wife. But the biggest honors go to Crenna, for his realistic and excellent portrayal. His talent and presence is, and will continue to be greatly missed, but his impact will live on. I highly recommend this film. You may never look at sexual assault the same way again. RIP Richard.
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