Monday, September 19, 2005

 

Kay Lenz and Three Movies, Long Ago

The actress Kay Lenz first came to my attention in the 1978 made-for-TV movie The Initiation of Sarah. Obviously trying to cash in on the success of Carrie (which Brian DePalma had adapted from Stephen King's novel two years prior), the film has Lenz portraying Sarah Goodwin, a shy college freshman who joins a strange sorority on campus and soon discovers that she has telekinetic powers, which she eventually uses against a rival sorority house and her own. While the film was clearly derivative, something about Lenz's performance was fresh, and made me eager to see what she did next. The following year, she appeared in The Seeding of Sarah Burns. Here, Lenz played a woman who was willing to carry an embryo to term for a childless couple, but then has second thoughts about giving up the child. Very much of its time, the film would still ring true today (as fertility issues will never be fully resolved) and Lenz was wonderful. I wanted more. Two years later, she had a smaller role in The Hustler of Muscle Beach, directed by Jonathan Kaplan (who would later direct Jodie Foster to her first Best Actress Oscar in The Accused). The film was taking advantage of the fitness craze that was starting to sweep the country in the 80s. Lenz played a supporting role to Richard Hatch (the hustler of the title), but just seeing her on screen again was cool. She has since had a prolific acting career (mostly on TV); won two Emmys; and even married David Cassidy (Keith Partridge of "The Partridge Family" fame) for a while. But I will forever (and fondly) associate her with these three films.

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