CANNON MONTH 2: Silent Victim (1995)

Directed by Menahem Golan and written by Nelly Adnil and Jonathan Platnick from a story by Bob Spitz, Silent Victim is a made-for-TV movie that tackles a subject that is still relevant: the right for a woman to choose.

Golan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — thanks to Hill Place for posting the quote —  “I’m not doing this for the sake of politics. The main thrust of the story is when it happens, everybody comes to take advantage of the situation.  I’m walking a razor’s edge.  I hope the movie will be good enough that people will learn something and enjoy it.”

Bonnie Jackson (Michele Greene, L.A. Law) is trapped in an abusive marriage with her husband Jed (Kyle Secor). All that he wants is to have a child, so he’s obsessed with making her take her medications and follow several rules toward having that baby. After a really bad fight, he beats her into oblivion, so she tries to commit suicide by taking pills. He takes her to the hospital but soon learns that she was pregnant and has lost the child from the overdose.

Jed brings her to court and charges her with a criminal attempt to commit suicide, failure to obtain a spousal notification, interference with her husband’s property rights and unlicensed practice of medicine. He brings on District Attorney Carter Evans (Alex Hyde-White, one of the last contract players in Hollywood, working for Universal with fellow contracted actors Lindsay Wagner, Andrew Stevens, Gretchen Corbett and Sharon Gless; he was also Mr. Fantastic in the Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four) to make sure he wins.

Bonnie has help of her own, as her college best friend Lauren McKinley (Ely Pouget, The RiftLawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace) is now a major lawyer in Manhattan. There’s a problem, of course, as this case happens in the south and the real father isn’t Jed but instead, it’s her friend, black pharmacist C. Ray Thompson (Ralph Wilcox).

As you can imagine, the case brings in protestors for both sides and Newnan, Georgia becomes a battleground. Meanwhile, Jed is in a hotel sweating, screaming and getting drunk while watching the warden sapphically take a prisoner in Caged Fury. What a strange thing to throw in a movie, Menahem, and that’s why we love you! There’s also a Punch and Judy show so that the kids can understand the trial and they all cheer when puppet Jed beats puppet Bonnie to death. This is topped by a moment when Bonnie finally reconnects with both C. Ray and Jed while two actual clowns stand and awkwardly watch. Yes, not clownish people. Actual clowns.

By the end, Bonnie may or may not get back with Jed. She has broken with her lawyer, who she feels exploited her. And she has to pay $1,000 back to the state and Jed whips up his checkbook, which seems to be a strange thing to take to court. Oh man — I almost forgot — Evans and McKinley, the two attornies on this case, used to date!

There’s also a graphic miscarriage scene that shows instead of tells in the most bloody and graphic way possible.

Travis Vogt on Letterboxd had the best quote for this — and I wish I wrote it — and I have to share this with you: “It’s like Death Wish 3 but for abortion.”

Seriously, of all directors, Menahem is the very last person I would choose to direct a sensitive take on the abortion debate.

But the most entertaining one? He knows how to do that.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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