Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Endangered List (Case File #28)



THE STEPDAUGHTER
(1972)

Originally titled WINTER LOVE and rated PG by the MPAA in 1972, this drama underwent a sexploitation facelift after leading lady Monie Ellis (daughter of actress Mona Freeman) was cast as Gidget Lawrence in the T.V. movie GIDGET GETS MARRIED. Brandishing a new title, an MPAA-approved R rating and a campaign similar to the one for Crown International's THE STEPMOTHER the previous year, THE STEPDAUGHTER played drive-ins for the next several years and was released on VHS in Canada (from VEC) in the 1980s. Normally this column doesn't concern itself with movies that were released on videocassette in North America, but there's no entry for THE STEPDAUGHTER in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and at least one source lists the film as an alternate title of Gary Graver's THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL, so it has definitely fallen through the cracks.

Producer/director William W. Wall owned several adult film theates in San Bernardino, and this was apparently his one and only time in the director's chair, but exploitation movie fans should recognize other names connected to this movie: sound man Jim Feazell later directed WHEELER (a.k.a. PSYCHO FROM TEXAS), cinematographer Henning Shellerup also was a director and has dozens of credits ranging from CONVICTS' WOMEN and MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS to KISS OF THE TARANTULA and IN SEARCH OF HISTORIC JESUS, and camera operator Paul Hipp was the d.p. on a number of low-budgeters like GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, GARDEN OF THE DEAD and TRADER HORNEE. Also, former Lee Frost starlet Maria Lease (LOVE CAMP 7, THE SCAVENGERS) was the script supervisor, a job she's most recently held on popular shows like Boston Legal and The Practice, while unit manager David Chase is better known these days as the creator of The Sopranos.

CAST

Monie Ellis (Penny Crane)
Chris Hubbell (Chris)
Marlene Tracy (Lillian)
Byron Clark (Mr. Crane)
Miguel Miranda (Miguel)
Michelle Lamothe (Betty)
Toni Moss (Counter Girl)

CREW

Produced & Directed
by William W. Wall

Director Of Photography
Henning Shellerup

Music
Jack Millman

Editor
Robert Angus

Screenplay
Ann Block

Story
Bill Wade

Sound
Lowell Brown & Jim Feazell

Assistant Director
John King

Unit Manager
David Chase

Camera Operator
Paul Hipp

Script
Maria Lease

Stills
Ray Raymond

Costumes Design
by Rosemary

Associate Producer
Whit Devenport

Casting Consultant
Sid Gordon



PLOT

In Palm Springs, Penny Crane (Monie Ellis), young vivacious daughter of Senator Crane (Byron Clark) and stepdaughter of his wife Lillian (Marlene Tracy) all decide to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to enjoy the skiing and also get away from the pressures of the investigation regarding the recall of Senator Crane. Penny, not a ski fan until she meets her ski instructor, young handsome Chris (Chris Hubbell) and their relationship grows not only on the ski slopes, but every minute they are able to find to be alone together. Mrs. Crane becomes jealous of her stepdaughter's relationship with Chris and insists they end it immediately.

When Penny's parents visit old friends in Salt Lake City, she and Chris become snowbound in a cabin and once alone, they discover how strong their love really is. The following days are filled with happiness for them.

Eventually Penny's parents return to Jackson Hole, and Penny suggests she visit her sister Betty (Michelle LeMothe) in San Francisco, and also to consult a doctor about her pregnancy.

Determined to have her baby she returns to Palm Springs. Mrs. Crane insists she have an abortion. Dazed and confused, she breaks down when Chris finally calls her and she explains her problem. He accepts his responsibility and agrees to marry her, but on his way to the airport in his old pick-up truck, his brakes go out and he is killed instantly. Miguel (Mike Miranda) good friend of Chris, witnesses the tragedy, and tells Penny, who hysterically relives her brief happiness.

4 comments:

CrazySexyMetalChick! said...

The character is supposed to be 17...but in the poster, she looks 12...am I the only one who finds that...disturbing?

Booksteve said...

OOO! Good one! I may be the only person besides you that even knows who Monie Ellis is! I loved those early seventies GIDGET TV movies!

Ian Miller said...

I picked up the VEC tape of this recently and was amazed by the lack of info surrounding the film. Anybody familiar with Swedish Erotica loops will definitely recognize the music.

Forbidden Eye said...

Chris, Jack Millman was a west coast jazz musician who became a library music producer. He eventually got involved with tax scam record labels under the name Johnny Kitchen. I've talked with him, he's pretty wild!