Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Killed Joy Morgan?

KILLJOY or KILL JOY or whatever it is called is one of the few made-for-TV movies from the early 1980s to have reached DVD. However, don't look for it under that title. The very ugly DVD, probably just taken from an old, ratty VHS tape someone bought for three bucks at a garage sale, carries the title WHO MURDERED JOY MORGAN (sic), which is probably what it was called in syndication after its original CBS airing (October 22, 1981).

Like many television mysteries of the period, this one is awfully good, winning an Edgar for its Sam Rolfe (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) teleplay and getting nominated for an Emmy for Bruce Broughton's sensitive score. Pretty Kim Basinger, who was then still a semi-recognizable TV face five years away from 8 ½ WEEKS, is the key in a love triangle including two physicians:  hothead Stephen Macht and mama's boy John Rubinstein.

When Basinger and Macht announce their engagement, Rubinstein convinces her that her new fiancĂ© hasn't forsaken his playboy past by creating an imaginary girlfriend for him named Joy Morgan.  Basinger buys the ruse, but all three find themselves in trouble when cop Robert Culp pops up investigating "Joy"'s disappearance and possible murder.  How can the police be looking into a missing person who doesn't exist?

Rolfe's clever script provides one neat twist after another, although the small cast necessitates that the killer's identity won't be too hard to guess.  Culp is captivating as usual the same year he began his regular run on THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.  John Llewellyn Moxey, who probably directed more TV-movies and better than just about anyone else, handles the helming chores smoothly as usual. Under any name, WHO MURDERED JOY MORGAN is well worth tracking down.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review! I love this movie. John Llewellyn Moxey is probably my favorite director of all time. He's made a few not-so-good films, but usually ends up with something like this.

I love the original title too, Killjoy. It's just more clever.