A Case of Rape
|A Case of Rape|
Elizabeth Montgomery in court
|Directed by||Boris Sagal|
|Produced by||David Levinson|
|Written by||Louis Rudolph
Robert E. Thompson
A Case of Rape is a 1974 television movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Ronny Cox. It premiered on NBC on February 20, 1974. The film tells the story of a wife and mother who is raped twice by the same man and her ordeals dealing with the actual rape and her subsequent dealing with the police and the trial.
Ellen appears to have a happy marriage to David, although his frequent work-related absences are beginning to take a toll on her. While taking night school classes with her neighbor and best friend, Marge Bracken, she is introduced to Larry Retzliff.
Ellen and Marge accept a ride home from Retzliff the same night while David is away. Once Ellen is in her apartment, Retzliff arrives claiming car trouble and asks to use the phone. When Ellen lets him in, he overpowers and rapes her. Unable to reach David by phone, and emotionally unable to report the crime, Ellen decides to put the attack behind her, and tries through three showers to literally wash away the rape.
When David returns, she is still unable to get his attention long enough to tell him about the attack. Having had an anonymous blood test, Ellen makes a serious effort to forget the attack and resume her life. This attempt comes to a crashing halt four days after the initial attack in a parking garage when Retzliff, who has been waiting for Ellen behind the front seat of her car, rapes her again, this time beating her viciously.
After reporting the attack, the treatment that Ellen receives from the police, doctors, and detectives is anything but sympathetic. While the District Attorney, Leonard Alexander, appears to have her best interests at heart, he clearly has his reservations.
Defending Retzliff is ruthless attorney Muriel Dyer who bullies and interrogates witnesses and Ellen herself on the stand. Dyer ultimately wins Retzliff an acquittal. Following the trial, attorney Alexander comments, "Never try a rape case unless your victim is a 90-year-old nun with at least four stab wounds." After this, Retzliff tries to apologize to Ellen but she calmly but coldly rejects him, saying, "If you ever come near me again, I'll kill you."
A voiceover narration at the end of the movie reveals that shortly after the trial, Retzliff attempts to rape someone else. While trying to escape from the police, he is shot and wounded, and ends up pleading guilty to the rape and sentenced to prison. The narration also reveals that Ellen and David's marriage is strained by the events of the film, and ultimately Ellen files for divorce.
- Elizabeth Montgomery as Ellen Harrod
- Ronny Cox as David Harrod
- Cliff Potts as Larry Retzliff
- William Daniels as Leonard Alexander
- Rosemary Murphy as Muriel Dyer
- Ken Swofford as Detective Riley
- Jonathan Lippe as Detective Parker
- Patricia Smith as Marge Bracken
The film was broadcast on February 20, 1974, over the NBC Television Network, which had some reservations about showing the second rape scene. As reported by the A&E series Biography, Montgomery believed so strongly in the story that she threatened to leave the project if the scene was cut. Montgomery prevailed, and the film was shown in its entirety along with warnings of the mature subject matter.