sometimes it’s too close

The eternal lure of another “drug scare” movie brought me out tonight to The Clinton St Theater for a pint of Porter and a viewing of what may be the most obscure thing I’ve seen, since I can’t find a single online reference to it. It may have been a CBS Playhouse show, but regardless, no one seems to mention it, not even IMDB. The object here is “The People Next Door”. No, not the 1970 version with Eli Wallach, but a different version from about the same time with Robert Duvall. The fellow who was screening this had bought the reels on eBay thinking it was the Wallach version, instead he found out tonight that it was a version he’d never even heard of. Adding to the confusion, the focal character, Maxie, was played by the same actress in both films, Deborah Winters!

The casting is nice, Duvall has a fairly small role as a psychiatrist and the father is played by Darren McGavin (correction: Lloyd Bridges… see comments). I also liked whoever it was who played the father next door, he seemed very familiar to me.

It is the story of a family with a rebellious hippy son and a perfect daughter and the problems that arise when they come upon the daughter having a bad acid trip in her closet and then blame her brother for it and kick him out. It is a very serious and dry movie, but sometimes it is hard to tell which side of the issue they are taking. The parents are shown to be the standard middle class hypocrites, lots of drinking, smoking, some womanizing, yet demonizing their children for their drug use. Of course, the daughter is misbehaving due to a lack of respect for her parents and she runs away, gets institutionalized and all sorts of things as the parents get terribly overwhelmed by all of this stuff. And, as one might imagine, the neighbors are a perfect little family with or problems. Or are they?

It wasn’t as exciting as I was expecting: drug scenes are pretty mild and it is not psychedelic at all, but it was alright. It felt like a black and white TV movie made of a stage play. The high points are really just some shots as the family is going through the eats village looking for the runaway daughter, some surprisingly nice shots.



 

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