Tuesday Weld in A Question of Guilt (1978)

Passing Judgement

When Doris Winters (Tuesday Weld - Wild in the Country) returns home to her apartment block to find her two young children missing she calls the police who start the search whilst the media start to cover the story. But Doris with her sexy outfits, modelling job, made up face and string of boyfriends is not liked amongst the other residence that look down on her promiscuous lifestyle. Before long the media have jumped on this and the police begin to suspect that Doris may have been involved in her own children's disappearance and then charge her with their murder when their dead bodies are found in a ditch.

I watch a lot of made for TV movies and something which I have noticed is the differences between modern made for TV movies and those from the 70s. Now days if "A Question of Guilt" was made the focus would be on either the investigation, showing Doris's guilt or her fight for justice all of which would be wrapped up in a satisfying way. But in this 70s movie the focus is not on providing a conclusion or the drama of the investigation but on the characters and how opinions can be influenced.

Ron Leibman in A Question of Guilt (1978)

You may be asking what I am on about but a huge part of "A Question of Guilt" is how the opinions of Doris's neighbours end up being played out in the media and in doing so influencing public opinion. We see how their dislike of Doris for being attractive, sexy and working as a lingerie model as well as her various boyfriends leads to people not only thinking she was a selfish, irresponsible mother but also giving her motive to remove the children from her life who might have become a burden to her lifestyle. Because of this "A Question of Guilt" comes across as a very different sort of TV movie and one which is so much more interesting than your regular sort.

It also allows actress Tuesday Weld to explore a range of emotions taking us from a glamour girl to worried mum on to woman who is vilified for her way of life. Weld is one of those actresses who in my opinion deserve greater acclaim and watching her in "A Question of Guilt" backs that up with a subtle but powerful performance full of little things from a snap in her voice which impresses in developing the character. In fact the rest of the cast end up ordinary around Weld which is much to do with the flat way in which their characters have been written rather than the acting.

What this all boils down to is that "A Question of Guilt" is the sort of TV movie I would love to see being made now as the focus on opinion and the characters is much more interesting than the focus on events and a neatly wrapped up conclussion which is the case these days.