Blu-ray Review: Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic

Sarah T

Linda Blair will probably always be best known for her starring in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, and rightfully so. However, in the years immediately following that success, the young star made a couple of television movies that dealt with difficult issues and showed her versatility as an actress. One such project, first aired on NBC in September of 1975 was Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. Directed by Richard Donner (The Goonies), the film was the fifth highest rated program for the network that year.

Sarah Travis (Blair), is 15, and dealing with a lot of changes; her parents bitter divorce, her mother’s remarriage, and a new school. Desperate to fit in, she’s taken to sneaking the occasional swig of from her step father’s stash and drinking the leftovers from glasses at her parents’ gatherings. Initially, it appears as though she might be like any other teenager, experimenting, and finding her place. However, things take a dark turn When it becomes clear she’s been drinking a lot more for quite a while.  Sarah has been dealing with severe feelings of inadequacy, and the alcohol gives her confidence. What started as a stress reliever, quickly becomes a debilitating habit. As she sinks further into alcoholism, the lengths underage Sarah will go to for just one more drink, become horrific.

Blair plays Sarah T. with a stark realism and is surrounded by an equally talented supporting cast. Verna Bloom (High Plains Drifter) as Sarah mother, who often seems more concerned about how things look, than anything real; William Daniels (1776) as Sarah’s step-father, who is concerned about Sarah, but doesn’t want to overstep his bounds; Larry Hagman (Dallas) as Sarah’s father, whom she adores. Though he’s not around much, the pair have fun when he is; a young Mark Hamill (Star Wars) plays her love interest Ken. Things really go off the tracks for Sarah after he rejects her declaration of love.

Written by Richard and Esther and Shapiro (co-creators of Dynasty and its spin-off The Colbys) takes the subject seriously, and remains relevant more than forty years after the television movie first aired. Shout Factory has brought the film to Blu-ray with brand new 2K scan of the original film elements. The result is an excellent looking transfer. The amount of detail is fantastic, and a nice level of grain throughout gives a natural look to the proceedings. There’s a nice sense of depth between the background and the foreground. Black levels are inky, and the 1970’s aesthetic and color palette look good.  Skin tones look natural from start to finish, and the print shows no obvious anomalies, beyond a speck or two, that doesn’t interfere with the overall viewing experience.

The mono 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack serves the film quite well. There’s a nice amount of depth, with room for the vocals, score, and sound effects to breath. While it’s not particularly dynamic, that’s fine in this dialogue heavy film. Vocals are crisp, and clear throughout.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Linda B on Sarah T. (HD, 16:53) Linda Blair discusses how her agents were pushing her to cash in, after the success of The Exorcist. She talks about working with Mark Hamill, and what a help he and Richard Donner were to her. She’s a woman who’s had some highs and lows in the movie business, and her honest is refreshing.
  • Richard D. and David L. Portrait of a TV Movie (HD, 19:30) The two share some obviously fond memories of working on the film.
  • Photo Gallery (HD, 4:10)

Movie title: Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975)

Director(s): Richard Donner

Actor(s): Linda Blair, Larry Hagman , Verna Bloom , William Daniels , Michael Lerner , Mark Hamill

Genre: Drama

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