Picks and Pans Review: Too Young the Hero
Ricky Schroder is at that perilous age when child stars turn into gangly teenagers with uncertain futures. In this two-hour movie of the week, he plays the real-life Calvin Graham, who actually enlisted in the Navy and became a WW II hero at age 12. Schroder, who's 17, handles this difficult role with an engaging, perverse believability. The movie begins with Schroder being thrown into the brig at the Corpus Christi Navy base after he has mistakenly been branded a deserter during the war. The events leading up to his incarceration are told in flashbacks, starting with his Dickensian childhood in Houston and culminating in his heroic, wartime adventures during the battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal. Although the movie's early at-home scenes are flypaper sticky (Calvin's mother sheds enough tears to water a redwood grove), Schroder manages to keep your interest with his astute performance. Granted, Silver Spoons fans may not be ready to see the Ricker visiting his first whorehouse or being raped in the brig by drunken soldiers. But, hey, the kid's gotta grow up sometime.
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