Dinky ★★

Please be aware that this is a review of the 1979 TV movie Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!, part of the "ABC Afterschool Special" series in those years, which apparently does not have its own listing here at Letterboxd. I have instead hijacked this page for the obscure 1935 film Dinky so I can post my review.

Watched as part of the June 2018 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
My list | Danae Cassandra's master list
#5. A film based on a book you had to read in school.

Today is one of those situations that semi-regularly occurs at my account, where I ended up reading the 1972 Young Adult novel this movie was based on right before watching the film, then ended up doing a review of the book over at "Letterboxd for book nerds" social network Goodreads.com; and so like it is in most of these situations, it's actually the book review today that contains most of my thoughts about the story, which I encourage you to go over to Goodreads and read. The 1979 TV movie that was adapted from this, part of the notoriously dark "ABC Afterschool Special" series from those years, is serviceable enough, but is pretty much exactly the cheap, badly lit, phoned-in project you would expect from a TV movie in the late '70s designed expressly to run in the late afternoon for an audience exclusively of kids; and by compressing an entire novel down into a half-hour running time, the movie version (retitled here as simply Dinky Hocker) barely scratches the surface of what makes the novel such a delightful, emotionally moving joy.

But that said, it was a wonderful surprise to see Maureen Teefy show up here as Dinky's mentally unbalanced, goth-wearing cousin, just a year before she made such an impression on me as a teen as the sheltered nerd who eventually blossoms into a free-thinking adult in 1980's Fame; and of course one of the things the "ABC Afterschool Special" series is best remembered for now is giving acting jobs to former '50s sitcom stars who were now in the '70s down on their luck, with Dinky Hocker admirably hiring June Lockhart to play Dinky's middle-class-liberal, good-cause-addicted mother Helen (whose dedication to a neighborhood community center for teenage heroin addicts far outweighs her dedication to her own daughter, leading Dinky to make up a rumor about her own heroin addiction in order to get her mother's attention, which is where the title of this book comes from). There are plenty of other Afterschool Specials at YouTube of better quality than this, for those aging Gen-Xers like me who are looking to get their nostalgia fix, so I don't necessarily recommend watching this particular one; but at the very least, the experience reminded me of what a dark, funny delight the original novel by M.E. Kerr is (the pen-name for real-life lesbian-lit pioneer Marijane Meaker, still alive and a ripe 91 at the time of this writing), so if nothing else I encourage you to seek out the book if you've never read it before.