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Sweet Hostage


With a bitter aftertaste.

Rod Lott October 18th, 2011

If you only see one movie in which a kidnapper often recites poetry to his hostage, make it “Sweet Hostage.”

sweethostage

Actually, scratch that. Don’t see it at all.

While the Warner Archive release promises a lurid tale (“When He Captured A Girl ... He Unleashed A Woman!” screams the cover. “At first, she was too frightened to feel anything but fear”), this 1975 obscurity wears kid gloves. It then should come as no surprise to learn the movie was made for television.

Martin Sheen is mental patient Leonard. Linda Blair is the unintelligent farmer’s daughter Doris Mae. They meet cute when Leonard escapes from the hospital and snatches the teen up off the road. He drives her to a hideout in the mountains, surrounded by a forest he claims is booby-trapped, lest she try to get away and go back home, where “genes” is a dirty word straight from the mouth of the devil.

So she doesn’t. Unlike most kidnapping films, Leonard doesn’t rape her. In fact, he’s pretty sweet. He renames her Kristabell. He talks incessantly about heading for Xanadu. He corrects her poor grammar. He plays the flute while wearing a puffy shirt. She eats it up as they essentially fall in love and play house. Or perhaps it’s just Stockholm syndrome.

Either way, it’s a dull 91 minutes, even accounting for Leonard robbing a store while wearing what looks like an Emmett Kelly clown mask, and affecting a slight JFK accent (which later would serve Sheen well). You also should hear his John Wayne ... if you can catch it elsewhere, outside of this trying telefilm. —Rod Lott

 
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