A Case of Rape, February 20, 1974

Written By: Greg Howell - Apr• 28•17

rapectAt last check, this made for TV movie is still one of the Top Ten All Time ratings winners in the entire history of made-for-television movies. Starring the actress responsible for lovable witch Samantha Stephens on Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery raised the bar on television production with A Case of Rape. The story-line featured graphic rape scenes and violence, and much of the nation pretended to take offense, but the ratings told a different story.

Audiences sat transfixed to a disturbing storyline unfold before their eyes of brutality and rape, then watched as it happened a second time! Ellen Harrod (Ms. Montgomery’s character) was raped and beaten again by the same assailant. Between these events, the storyline critically examined the way the victims, hospital, doctors, judges, attorney’s, and other civilians treated rape victims, or aptly stated, mistreated rape victims.

This explosive movie was the talk of the television season along with another significant program, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman with Cicely Tyson. This was one in a long string of ground breaking television movie successes for Ms. Montgomery that explored the victimization of women in society. Montgomery, a controversial, early vocal feminist and pro gay-rights activist, was nominated again for an Emmy Award – just one of nine nominations in her career.  She never won the award, but she won the ultimate fight against bias and victimization against women.

A Case of Rape brought such major awareness to the plight of rape victims that significant laws protecting rape victims were enacted nationwide. Ms. Montgomery was so dedicated to the project that she threatened to walk if the NBC network continued to censor the project, especially at the demand of the second rape be removed from the final script. The network backed down to her demands, which defines the tremendous star and artistic power Elizabeth Montgomery possessed in television during her peak.

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