TO FIND A MAN (1972).
Two teenaged friends, both from wealthy Upper East Side families, seek out an abortion in this sometimes-thoughtful but more often vaguely-misguided Hollywood attempt to embrace 'modern,' youth-oriented topics. Courtesy of hot-shot producer Ray Stark, who was more attuned to glitzy film-fare like FUNNY GIRL and ANNIE, any halfway-effective moments are inevitably hobbled by clumsy storytelling and clichéd contrivances. Adapted from a 1969 novel by New York City ad man S.J. Wilson, scriptwriter Arnold Schulman (GOODBYE, COLUMBUS, as well as the similarly pregnancy/abortion-themed LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER) makes seemingly-arbitrary modifications to the source material (e.g., stripping away the book's distinctly Jewish backdrop and humor, with lead character Andrew Z. Greenstone WASPified into Andy Morrison and Rosalind Berk becoming Catholic schoolgirl Rosalind McCarthy), while other changes were necessitated by real-life changes in the law (though originally following two 18-year-olds in search of a backroom abortionist, after New York State legalized the procedure in April 1970 -- a year after the book's publication -- the leads were reworked into junior-high teens)... Rosalind McCarthy (18-year-old, future-NANCY DREW/DYNASTY star Pamela Sue Martin, in her screen debut) has a small problem, which is going to become increasingly evident in the coming months. You see, teenaged Rosalind is pregnant, her ritzy private-school classmates are no help (sorry, soft-drink enemas don't work), she's unwilling to admit the truth to her clueless parents or family doctor, and instead looks for a solution from longtime platonic friend and next-door neighbor Andy (16-year-old Darren O'Connor, older brother of actress Glynnis O'Connor). Not only is Andy the ultimate brainy geek -- skinny, bespectacled, with a mouth full of braces, ugly haircut and know-it-all attitude -- but the boy has been pining for lovely but incredibly vacant Rosalind since they were children and will do anything to please her. Unfortunately, neither of these kids knows jack shit about pregnancies. There's securing chemicals for a homemade pregnancy test, a rather grim visit to a working-class clinic, and even consulting an ad in one of those hippie "underground" newspapers. But while Andy might be a whole lot brighter than Rosalind (honestly, a bag of ferrets could win a round of JEOPARDY against this ditzy chick), he's still woefully naive, such as when Andy hocks his most prized possession to get the cash for her abortion, only to be mugged in broad daylight the instant he leaves the pawn shop. D'oh! Meanwhile, the substantially older dude who knocked Rosalind up (Swedish-born male model Shell [Kjell] Rasten, who married "cuchi-cuchi" singer Charo back in 1978) doesn't give a damn, with the notion of statutory rape never broached. Oddly, we never really understand why Andy feels so responsible for Rosalind's plight, except for his dumb, unrequited crush; but in a clever turn, while you might expect this girl to be vaguely grateful for all of Andy's help, she's instead a whiny, unappreciative l'il brat throughout. In fact, most of its characters are shallow and oblivious -- Rosalind's dad (Lloyd Bridges) is full of drunken, macho theatrics, her mother (Phyllis Newman) is a nagging neurotic, and both families live in sumptuous, multi-floored Sutton Place townhouses -- which makes them even more difficult to sympathize with. The two young stars have a naturalistic look but their performances vary wildly. Martin is quite believable a dim, self-absorbed teen who's less concerned about this abortion than the fact that it might interfere with her scheduled hair appointment or upcoming Acapulco vacation, but O'Connor (who quickly disappeared from the biz) plays his role in a more affected sitcom-level fashion (right down to his finale, insipid, coming-of-age realization), and there are numerous moments where you'll desperately want to dropkick both of these grating, self-centered leads into the East River. Along with brief but surprisingly nuanced turns by Tom Bosley as a helpful neighborhood pharmacist and Tom Ewell as the physician ultimately handling this problem, the supporting cast includes 16-year-old, shaggy-haired Miles Chapin (GET CRAZY, THE FUNHOUSE) as Andy's annoying best friend Pete, future disco diva Vicki Sue Robinson plays another classmate, and Antonia Rey is the Morrison's painfully-outdated ethnic housekeeper. A substantial change of pace for director Buzz Kulik, whose big-screen efforts usually stuck to action/crime fare like David Janssen's WARNING SHOT and Burt Reynold's SHAMUS, the production is aided immeasurably by NYC cinematography courtesy of Andrew Laszlo (THE OUT OF TOWNERS, THE WARRIORS).
© 2018 by Steven Puchalski.