21 January 2013 | GSeditor
Well-intended, mediocre but watchable indie drama
This was made when Brooke Shields' cinema career was at its lowest point. Following the box office flop of Sahara (1983), big studios were avoiding her like the plague. Outside of cheap TV productions, the only instance she could get an acting job was in Brenda Starr and even that had been possible only because an Arab multi-millionaire fan of her had volunteered to invest in the movie if she was cast in the lead role. As (un)luck would have it, Brenda Starr would be locked up in some legal tangles after its production and remain unreleased in the US for years to come. So when she was approached to co-star in this semi-indie production by an unknown filmmaker, she must have gladly embraced it. Backstreet Strays, as the movie was known in its production stage, was intended as a starring vehicle by an aspiring former film student named Jason O'Malley, who wrote, co-produced and starred, to have himself burst into the movie scene. It was shot partially in LA and partially in NJ (esp. Shields' scenes) in May-June 1989.
The movie isn't really bad at all. O'Malley plays a street thug who has an autistic son and Brooke Shields plays an idealist student who volunteers to help the kid. Naturally, a romance blossoms, but the guy's past doesn't let him go his own way too easily, so there is some action as well. The acting is decent (perhaps I should say the acting looks decent as I watched this in a Turkish dubbed version and cannot vouch for actual dialog performances). The story is very predictable, but so what? I especially liked the parts where the father was trying to interact with his son.
Did the movie kick off O'Malley's career and help Shields' career to bounce back? No. After an apparently very limited North American theatrical release in 1990, it went to video the next year and was soon forgotten. Interestingly, the movie also seems to have been theatrically released in Italy, but that was probably due the presence of Anthony Franciosa in the cast. The movie remains unreleased on DVD as of yet and it is too bad that, outside of the undistinguished posters, only one rather bland looking photo still with Brooke Shields (embraced by O'Malley) circulate on the web. Actually, there are some very nice scenes with her throughout the movie. A cosy one where she sits with the kid among neighbors singing, for instance. And a night scene with O'Malley when they have their first night out by a pool. Those are the instances which Brooke fans should check.