Tag Archives: Pamela Sue Martin

To Find a Man (1972)

to find a man 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teen wants an abortion.

Rosalind (Pamela Sue Martin) is a teenager attending an all-girls Catholic school who finds out that she is pregnant. She can’t tell her parents (Lloyd Bridges, Phyllis Newman) and some of the advice that her girlfriends give prove to be useless. She decides she wants an abortion, but doesn’t know where to go so she turns to one of her guy friends named Andy (Darren O’Connor) who is a bright student and a little more sophisticated. After being scolded by his family’s live-in maid Modesta (Antonia Rey) as being too selfish he decides to go out of his way to help Rosalind with her problem even if at times she seems to have no appreciation for it.

I know the phrase ‘they don’t make movies like this anymore’ has become a modern-day axiom especially when reviewing films from this era, but in this case it fits, but not for the expected reasons. In a lot of ways this is far more open-minded about the controversial subject than anything you might see today. It manages to nicely avoid the political issues and instead tells a refreshingly realistic story about teenage friendship that respects the intelligence of its intended audience without ever getting preachy or overly-sanitized.

The film also manages to be surprisingly funny particularly at the beginning when Rosalind and her naïve friends come up with all sorts of insane ways to try to terminate the pregnancy on their own, which may sound potentially offensive to some, but somehow scriptwriter Arnold Schulman and director Buzz Kulick balance it well enough to keep it at an innocuous level. They also manage later on to shift it seamlessly towards the serious side as it shows in vivid detail the cold, ‘business-like’ attitude of those working at an abortion clinic and the impersonal way they treat people that come to it.

Martin in her film debut is excellent playing a character that is not necessarily likable, but still quite human and believable for that age. O’Connor in his one and only film appearance is equally good and it’s great to see a teen lead that is smart without being particularly fashionable, trendy or attractive.

Bridges is excellent as the girl’s father and the unique friendship that he has with O’Connor is quite interesting. Ewell is a standout as the abortionist in the final sequence that manages to be stark, compelling and strangely moving.

In a lot of ways this is more a story about the flawed human beings that we all are and how sometimes when it’s least expected they can do some amazingly selfless acts in this slice-of-life film that is surprisingly both touching and upbeat. It’s also quite similar to Our Time, which came out 2 years later and also starred Martin.

to find a man 1

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: January 20, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Buzz Kulik

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: Amazon Instant Video

Our Time (1974)

our time 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: She gets an abortion.

Abby (Pamela Sue Martin) and Muffy (Betsy Slade) are two teen girls and the best of friends that are attending a New England all-girls school during the 50’s. Abby is in love with Michael (Parker Stevenson) and the two sneak off one weekend and consummate their relationship, which makes Muffy jealous. She is not as pretty as Abby and has a hard time getting boyfriends, but decides one night during a Christmas party to have sex with Malcolm (George O’Hanlon Jr.) in the backseat of a car simply to feel what it is like. Their experience isn’t as enjoyable, but Muffy becomes pregnant anyways and the four then spend the rest of the time looking for an underground abortionist to terminate her pregnancy.

On the technical end the film is slick. I particularly liked the opening tracking shot that takes place in a church. The camera starts at the front of the church showing a close-up of the headmaster singing with the choir and then pulls back down the side aisle to show Abby sneaking in late and then goes back up the middle aisle as she looks for a seat. In fact just about every scene features some form of a tracking shot, which may get a little overdone, but helps give the film a certain visual liveliness. Unlike Leonard Maltin who in his book described the color photography as being ‘bad’, I found it to be quite vivid with a nice soft focus lens that gives it a nostalgic-like appeal.

The story itself is predictable, but I enjoyed the sometimes humorous takes of the sexual repressive, stifling attitude of the era and how the students were made to feel like they were being watched and monitored at every second. Abby’s and Michael’s sexual encounter inside a hotel room is quite amusing, but the one done later on between Muffy and Malcolm is painful to watch and not very realistic, looking more like two clothed bodies on top of each other without much effort to simulate the sexual motions.

Martin is excellent in the lead and ironically starred just two years earlier in a similar film about a young unwed woman looking for an abortionist entitled To Find a Man. Stevenson, who later co-starred with Martin in ‘The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries’ TV-show looks like he is barely past puberty. Jerry Hardin, Cliff Emmich, Robert Walden and Debralee Scott can all be seen in brief bits. This is also the only other film appearance of Karen Balkin, who played the bratty student in The Children’s Hour and plays a similar type of character here.

The only issue I had with the film is with the abortion segment. Overall, from a purely dramatic level I felt these scenes were compelling and the best moments in the movie, but it seemed unrealistic especially from a 1950’s perspective that none of the four would try to convince Muffy to keep the baby. It almost comes off like these are 70’s teens with more modern sensibilities that were transplanted into a different time period than actual characters from a bygone era. The plot also becomes more like a political statement than a story and seems to lean too heavily on a liberal point-of-view.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 10, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Hyams

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD (Warner Archive)