This made-for-television film from NBC was a candid portrait of a teenage romance starring Denise Miller (previously seen in Barney Miller, Fish and Makin’ It) and Rex Smith (in his film debut), with supporting roles for Judd Hirsch, Barbara Feldon, Morey Amsterdam and Lynn Redgrave.
13-year-old Jessie Walters (Miller) falls for her 17-year-old guitar teacher Michael Skye (Smith) at the Eddie Nova Guitar Institute and lies to him, telling him she is actually 16.
When Michael expects a mature relationship from her, the petrified young Jessie confesses her deception. She also confronts her parents (Feldon and Hirsch) for the first time and realises that she should have sought their support from the beginning.
A wise and sensitive script guides the characters through a series of both comic and dramatic moments to a slightly surprising happy ending.
The National Education Association recommended the film to school and parents across the US, suggesting it as an excellent lead-in for teenage discussions on sex education (emphasising as it does the need to keep parent-teenager communication open).
Rex Smith released the songs from the film on a Columbia album, with the single You Take My Breath Away reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and transforming him into an overnight teen idol. Producer Carole Hart novelised the screenplay, which was released as a paperback.
Smith went on to a successful television and music career. He played motorcycle police officer Jesse Mach in the short-running 1985 television series Street Hawk, made guest appearances on television shows, such as The Love Boat, Baywatch, Caroline in the City and JAG, and replaced Andy Gibb as a host on the music variety show Solid Gold in 1982.
In 1983, he starred in the movie The Pirates of Penzance, with Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury and Linda Ronstadt.
Cheryl D. Francis