After 14-year-old Chris Parker (LINDA BLAIR) runs away from home just one too many times, her parents decide to teach her, and in essence everyone who has ever sat through BORN INNOCENT, some valuable life lessons by making her a ward of the courts. Young Chris is processed by the justice system, and dispatched to a juvenile detention center where she is promptly cavity searched, deloused, and initiated into the hard-knock life of a girls’ home where plenty of sexually unambiguous girls with feathered haired abound. Make no mistake though, THE FACTS OF LIFE this isn’t.
Chris draws attention to herself in class by impressing the home’s lone schoolteacher a.k.a. “Mom” (JOANNA MILES) with her geography prowess, and shortly thereafter ends up on the business end of a plunger handle while four tough girls hold her down in the shower. Since there’s nothing like a little forced sodomy with a plunger handle to send a person’s normally sunny disposition down the toilet, our tragic heroine spends the rest of the film in a downward spiral.
She returns home for a weekend visit, only to runaway again from her abusive dick Dad, and is carted back to juvie where she ends up in solitary confinement for inciting a food fight to protect her pregnant friend. The pregnant one happened to be involved in the shower rape, but this seems to be lost on both Chris and the script supervisor. After the pregnant one miscarries, Chris becomes even more bitter and eventually incites a full-scale riot after the school’s house mother Mrs. Lasko (ALLYN ANN McLERIE) refuses to give her shampoo. There’s an inquest into the riot, and Chris straight up lies about her involvement.Â The movie anticlimactically ends with Chris stomping off across the schoolyard, arm-in-arm with the other delinquents, just another child left behind by a failed rehabilitation system.
Released as made-for-T.V. movie of the week in 1974, BORN INNOCENT garnered high ratings and its shocking shower scene was cited for inspiring a real-life act of forced sodomy with a soda bottle by a group of underage girls. A subsequent legal battle based on this copy-cat crime led to the establishment of the Family Viewing Hour, and the shower scene was cut from all re-broadcasts.
Perhaps equally as criminal is the oversight of BLAIR‘s lightening rod performance by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Not only did she not receive an EMMY for her work, she wasn’t even nominated.Â In the hands of a lesser contemporary, say HELEN HUNT (There, I said it. I never cared for her poor-man’s JODIE FOSTER schtick and her big forehead), BORN INNOCENT would have just been a Primetime After-School Special. Whether she’s carving her initials in her forearm with a heated bobby pin or slapping a schoolmarm upside the head, BLAIR lends a natural believability to the unfortunate proceedings. You really want her to escape this hell hole, and when she doesn’t, you can’t really fault her for becoming a charter member of the old-school bad girl’s club.
I don’t know if I love Linda Blair DESPITE the fact she makes trashy movies or BECAUSE of the fact she makes trashy movies! She is my Queen, man! This ones probably my favorite (yes, even better than EXORCIST!) and I also love SARAH T: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE ALCOHOLIC and SUMMER OF FEAR!
I saw this movie in the late 80’s, which had to be before we had cable–and the rape scene was intact. The girl comes out, says they want to introduce her to John, they force her to the floor and she lies there crying with her arms crossed over her breasts. I’m figuring it had to be late 80’s because I saw it at home, and I moved out in 1989. Anyone else remember this?
A while back we received this email from Italy. We were not sure how to use it because it’s not exactly a traumafession. It’s more like a sweet fan letter to Blair. Check it out…
“When I was 13 I watched “The Exorcist”,and Linda Blair immediately became my favorite actress, and still she is, eleven years later.
When I saw Regan MacNeil’s face for the first time,
I love Linda in all her incarnations, though it’s sad that she made some bad career choices after “The Exorcist.” This, however, was not one of them. “Born Innocent” is insanely entertaining, and the DVD (with the rape scene intact) is available from VCI Entertainment.
And let us not forget Linda’s role in the unforgettable “Roller Boogie,” arguably the finest roller disco movie ever made!
If Linda ever needed to do anything more to secure my good will forever, she did it in 1988:
With The Hoff.
I never liked Helen Hunt’s nostrils…too big. The forehead bothered me too.
Good call on Witchery Vicar. I just saw that movie for the first time a few months ago. Good stuff.
I love Linda’s TV Movie output. It was amazing. She was so believable in every role she took on. I haven’t seen Sweet Hostage yet, but I do have a copy of it. I think even though it’s a lesser film in comparision, I might like Summer of Fear the best because it’s just so much fun!
And this woman is STILL adorable.
Nice review. I remember seeing Born Innocent for the first time as an adult and even then that rape scene had me squirming. How TV has changed.
“Born Innocent” is a milestone in made for television films in my opinion. Its probably the best film Blair ever made post “Exorcist”. Its
brutality still sends shivers up my spine.
Her character in this telefilm maybe the first depiction of a teenager secret cutting herself on film. That ridiculous film “Thirteen” in which the main character secret cuts herself pales ludicrously in comparison and sometimes I wonder if that scene was a homage to Blair’s
secret cutting herself in “Born Innocent”.
Linda was recently on “Supernatural” during it’s
second season episode “The Usual Suspects”.
Unfortunately though, there was a moment
where I thought she was gonna get possessed
but alas it didn’t happen. “Born Innocent”
although amazing and special in its own right
is a film that is quite difficult to revisit.
Greetings from Brazil!!!
WHAT A MOVIE! It TOUCHED me so much!!! Here in my country the film was known as “Inocência Ultrajada” (Outrageous Inocence). It showed (and still shows) lots of problems, that are seen in this film: troubled teenagers (for many reasons – abusive parents, lack of love, drugs…). These things are very common here in Brazil (unfortunately)…
I saw this film, the first time, in 1990 (I was 15). I think I had lots of things in common with “Chris Parker” (I didn’t like the school where I studied – in Rio de Janeiro – for me, it’s a CONTROVERSIAL place). And I remember I ran away from this school because of this film (laughs!). The adolescence is a TERRIBLE phase…And after, in 1996, when I saw the WHOLE movie, I thought it very sad. And that was a better age for me (I was in the college, living in a city called ‘Porto Alegre’ – not so violent/cruel as Rio de Janeiro). And last year I saw some parts in ‘youtube’. I admit: I am scared about some scenes: the rape, the riot in the end of the film…
But there are things that I don’t like in the film: some actresses don’t have their names in the beginning (who was the actress who played “Beth”? and the old lady who worked with Miss Murphy? I guess on her role her name was “Elaine”).
Nowadays I’m happy for Miss Blair being ‘OK’; her concerning about animals (I LOVE animals too!).
I agree with some people here: she was a GREAT actress! “É isso aí!” (yeah!)