January 17th, 2009

A Howling in the Woods (1971)



Network: NBC
Original Air Date: November 5th, 1971

Much like Barbara Eden's other suspense thriller The Stranger Within, the set up in A Howling in The Woods creates an agonizing build to a strong climax. Perhaps it's not the wow-punch-kill of a lot of faster paced films, but fans of the TV movie format will not be disappointed in this superb chiller.

Eden is Liza Crocker, successful fashion artist by day, unhappy housewife by night. She escapes the drudgery of her big city life and heads out to her father's old hotel where he lives with is new-ish wife Rose (Vera Miles - those cheekbones!) and her son Justin (John Rubinstein). Dad's gone away on a hunting trip but Rose is more than happy to give Liza a place to sleep & think. And Liza would think if she could get passed the cold shoulder the town she grew up in is throwing at her. And if she could get that dog to quit howling.

The most innocent victim

Things have certainly changed in this town. Seems there's one big doozy of a secret that they are not willing to let out, and some of the townspeople will do anything - even murder - to make sure it stays a secret.

Expertly crafted by Daniel Petrie (Sybil), A Howling in the Woods is small screen suspense at its best. The elements are all there, along with the clues. I won't lie, you don't have to be a Mensa member to figure out the secret, but the film is played out in such a way that you will either get swept up in the story and forget to try to figure it out, or you will simply find the build up good enough to justify a semi-predictable ending.

Look at that hat! So fab!

I've said this several times before, so why not say it again? Barbara Eden is a fantastic dramatic actress. She proved herself ten times over with this and Stranger. She also has that sophisticated style that I envy so much. This girl looks good in anything! She even wears culottes and owns them, you know?

John Rubinstein is great as Justin. He appeared in a lot of TV movies and always brought a sense of fun to his parts. I think my favorite role is still in Killjoy, but I liked his hair better here! He just did the mommy complex better in the other one. Larry Hagman co-stars as Eden's maybe-soon-to-be-ex, which was a clever little bit casting, but not just because he was her "Master" just a few years earlier in I Dream of Jeannie, but because the two have such a sweet rapport together. They also appeared in a couple of episode of Dallas. I mean, why let go of such a good thing?

Oh, to run my fingers through that!