Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

T. R. Baskin: Small Town Girl Makes Bad

Cleveland Press November 12, 1971

"T. R. Baskin" is a "Desperate Characters" without any characters. And the desperation is more imaginary than real.

Again the moviemakers have tackled the theme of desperation in the big city, this time in the story of a small town girl who finds herself trapped by the depersonalization of urban living.

The T. R. Baskin of the title is a girl from Findlay, O., who has run off to Chicago for fame and fortune or something.

Right from the outset the picture has trouble by miscasting Candice Bergen as a small town, farm country girl who can't cope with big city types. Miss Bergen looks and sounds like big city, Big Big City, BIG EAST COAST TYPE CITY.

But in fairness to Miss Bergen even the right type would have trouble eliciting sympathy in the part. This Miss Baskin is a real put down artist. You know, smart aleck retorts right down the line.

Sure, you feel sorry for her when the cabbie takes her for a big ride and a big bill; and when she gets trapped in a dull double date; or when she finds herself lost in the great big typing pool. But darn it, the gal sure sounds as though she could take care of herself.

The movie has a story that goes nowhere. It bogs down in trifles and seldom gets away from the tons of trivia.

The tale is told in a series of awkward flashbacks. Miss Baskin has been picked up by a visiting salesman (Peter Boyle) and in an afternoon spent in his hotel room where nothing happens she recalls her arrival in Chicago.

As the flashbacks progress, it is supposed to be clear that Miss Baskin is not THAT kind of girl but it isn't likely that anyone will care what kind of girl she is.

Boyle is totally wasted in his role. Marcia Rodd almost overcomes her banal material as Miss Baskin's one friend in the impersonal place where they work.

James Caan, a good but badly used actor, is impressive in his brief appearance as a recently divorced man afraid of commitments and who misunderstands the girl.

"T. R. Baskin" sets out to tell a story about loneliness, instead concentrates on boredom with predictable results.