Intimate Strangers (1977 film)

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Intimate Strangers
Genre Drama
Written by Richard and Esther Shapiro
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Starring Dennis Weaver
Sally Struthers
Tyne Daly
Larry Hagman
Music by Fred Karlin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Charles W. Fries
Producer(s) Richard and Esther Shapiro
Tony Ganz (associate producer)
Cinematography Robert B. Hauser
Editor(s) Walter Hannemann
Running time 96 minutes
Production company(s) Charles Fries Productions
Distributor ABC
Original network ABC
Original release November 11, 1977

Intimate Strangers (alternative title: Battered) is a 1977 made-for-TV drama film directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, and written and produced by Richard and Esther Shapiro.

The film, starring Dennis Weaver, Sally Struthers, Tyne Daly and Larry Hagman, deals with the subject domestic violence and has received positive reviews since its release, acknowledged as "an outstanding social drama" by the TV Guide. Daly received an Emmy Award nomination in the category "Best Supporting Actress".


Donald Halston (Dennis Weaver) loses a policy at work, leading to a financial setback. He takes out this personal and financial humiliation on his loving wife Janice (Sally Struthers). After a fight over her daily spendings, he accidentally pushes her, causing her to spill coffee over herself. He immediately apologizes, and Janice does not wait long before forgiving him. The next morning, she runs into an old friend Karen Renshaw (Tyne Daly), who once left town for Florida but is now working as a drafts woman. They quickly become best friends.

Donald, meanwhile, is convinced by his colleague and friend Mort Burns (Larry Hagman) to give him company on a night's out with two attractive women. Donald spends the night with one of the women and cheats on his wife. He returns home at night to a worried Janice, though instead of apologizing, he admits to his unloyalty in a rage, and starts beating her when she gets mad at him for the affair. The police quickly arrive due to complaints of neighbors, though Janice lies about the situation to protect her husband.

The next morning, Janice's daughter Peggy (Quinn Cummings) confronts her mother with the domestic violence, and Janice assures her that she will stick by her husband. Donald, meanwhile, visits his unloving father (Melvyn Douglas), and learns that the rent for his retirement home has not yet been paid. At the local gym, Mort's wife Marilyn (Ellen Travolta) among others notice that Janice has multiple bruises on her body, but she denies having a problem. After class, she receives a crisis number for battered women. Even though Donald makes a convincing apology about his behavior, promising her to better his life, Janice attends a self-help meeting with other battered women. There, she reacts in denial when others ask about her husband's violent tendencies, and ends up protecting Donald yet again, despite fearing that Donald will someday hit the children as well.

Donald attempts to make up with Janice by accompanying her to one of Karen's parties. There, he grows jealous when Janice talks to a younger man, and demands to leave with her immediately. At home, Janice gets upset for being humiliated, causing Donald to abuse her yet again. This time, the police show up and arrest Donald. Meanwhile, Janice is in hospital and is visited by an attorney, Shaola Reems, to sue her husband. Karen collects Janice's stuff at her home and tells Donald what a horrible man he is. Donald makes another promise to change, but Janice convinces him that he can't do this without the help of a therapist. Karen criticizes Janice for not leaving Donald, but Janice insists that she does not want to be a divorced woman.

Janice returns home, only to get into a fight with her husband over Karen, in which the youngest son Chris (Brian Andrews) gets thrown through the room. Horrified, Janice takes the children and immediately leaves her husband. She attempts to start a new life, which includes a job, though one night Donald breaks into his former home and both chokes and rapes his wife. Even though Donald can't be sued for rape, he will be accused for abuse. Donald pleads guilty for a lower penalty, though this deal includes a restraining order from his wife.



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