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» » Lisa, Bright and Dark (1973)

Short summary

Three teenage girls try to help their friend, who is having a nervous breakdown that conventional therapy seems to be failing to remedy.

Anson Williams got Erin Moran the job as Joanie on Happy Days having met her on this TV movie. Joanie was played by another actress in the pilot episode, and Erin took the role once the series began.

Kay Lenz and Debralee Scott, had both appeared in American Graffiti (1973) released in the same year.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Wooden Purple Romeo
    This is one of those Hallmark Hall of Fame specials that helped to cement their reputation for being well-made, well-acted quality production. Kay Lenz is outstanding as Lisa, and the supporting cast is also excellent. This is one that still holds up today, even though it was made many years ago. When this was made, mental illness wasn't a popular subject for serious treatment by television, but this sensitive,thoughtful movie helped to be a pioneer for all of the television movies dealing with mental illness (like Sybil, The Cracker Factory, and many others)that would come afterwards. The Seventies was a coming of age time for television drama. Lisa, Bright and Dark was a definite pioneer.
  • comment
    • Author: WtePSeLNaGAyko
    I read the book "Lisa Bright and Dark" and this movie holds up next to the book really well. The performances were strong and it dealt with a subject that most decent people didn't talk about at that time-mental illness. I was a teen when I first watched it and read the book and while thankfully me and my friends didn't have the problems that Lisa did, I could still relate to the teen girls love and concern as they watched Lisa slip further and further into mental illness. I wish they would release the old made for TV movies that came out in the early 70's on DVD. I haven't seen this one in 30 years and would love to watch it again.
  • comment
    • Author: Hirah
    I've been collecting & trading 70's "Made For TV" movies for years and this is one title I have been searching for FOREVER but never have come across!! Not only is Kay Lenz excellent in her role but the supporting cast is great too! First read the book in school back when we ordered through "The Scholastic Book Club"...and the movie is a very good adaptation. Two other books that became part of my "70's TV Movies" collection, (that I was lucky enough to finally find), were Ann Heads "Mr. & Mrs. Bo Jo Jones" (1971) & Blossom Elfman's "The Girls Of Huntington House" (1973) which were both adapted into movies well and I very much recommend both the book & movie of these titles!
  • comment
    • Author: Burgas
    I just had to order a copy of the out-of-print DVD because of the young Kay Lenz. She had done such a great job in the film Breezy. I was a little apprehensive, wondering if she was up for this very challenging role----especially for a young person.

    I needn't have worried. She really did an excellent job at showing the ups-and-downs of this mental illness.

    It has been suggested that the parent's portrayals were, perhaps, too unrealistic. However, I clearly remember those years (the early 1970s) when the very idea of someone needing psychiatric/psychological help was incredibly shame-filled. Some of my favorite moments were when Kay Lenz pleads with her parents, practically begging them to get her psychiatric help. Really really moving.

    Jamie Smith-Jackson and Debralee Scott: I just these love two actresses, and they did a really wonderful job as 2 of Lisa's best friends.

    Okay, I admit: I could do without the Rod McKuen songs. But that's really the only weak spot in this film.

    I am SO glad that I have a copy of this film. I'm going to enjoy watching it again and again. THANK YOU, KAY LENZ!
  • comment
    • Author: Insanity
    "Lisa, Bright and Dark" is a frustrating made for TV movie to watch. In some ways, it's really well made...but in other ways the movie really drops the ball. The overall effect is frustrating.

    Through the course of this film, Lisa (Kay Lenz) is unraveling mentally. While the stupid and self-absorbed parents (Anne Baxter and John Forsythe) deny that she's having serious difficulties, it's obvious to anyone who cares that Lisa is a mess. After all, she's been lighting things on fire, slashing her wrists and has been in a stupor. The layman would say she's having a nervous breakdown and she keeps upping the ante in a desperate attempt to get her parents' attention...with little success. Her friends care and try a wacky intervention that left me confused...and it will really confuse you as well. What's also confusing is the end...which just seems abrupt.

    With a small re-write, this would have been an excellent film and alerted folks to teen mental illness and parental neglect. But the ending and the intervention just seemed slapdash. Watch if you must and if you do at least you can seen Anson Williams and Erin Moran before they went to work on "Happy Days".
  • comment
    • Author: Der Bat
    As a person with Bi-Polar ( it never goes away, just regulates and deregulates), I have experienced every symptom portrayed in this movie. And like this movie I also had a denying and uneducated mother toward mental health issues, who was overly concerned with her reputation in the community...well that spelled frustration to the max for myself at the age of 15 in 1980. This would have been the perfect movie for us to watch together!

    Sometimes critics are unaware that a film with a strong central theme can carry itself just fine despite what would otherwise be shortcomings. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed every quirk:) Kay Lenz has always been a favorite of mine as well. The perfect made for TV production IMHO. Hallmark presentations were always tops.
  • Cast overview:
    Anne Baxter Anne Baxter - Margaret Schilling
    John Forsythe John Forsythe - William Schilling
    Kay Lenz Kay Lenz - Lisa Schilling
    Anne Lockhart Anne Lockhart - Elizabeth
    Debralee Scott Debralee Scott - Mary Nell Fickett
    Jamie Smith-Jackson Jamie Smith-Jackson - Betsy Goodman
    Anson Williams Anson Williams - Brian Morris
    Erin Moran Erin Moran - Tracy Schilling
    Stu Klitsner Stu Klitsner - Arthur Milne
    Richard Stahl Richard Stahl - John Fickett
    Jessica Myerson Jessica Myerson - Eleanor Fickett
    Lawrence P. Casey Lawrence P. Casey - Buddy King
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