Made For TV: Portrait Of An Escort (1980)

Portrait Of An Escort is a 1980 TV movie, which means it never gets as steamy and lurid as its title might suggest. I had never seen this movie before, nor do I recall having any memories of it when I was a kid, but when movies like this did come on TV, my mother would put me and my brother straight to bed. Besides, I was into science fiction films back then and wouldn’t have batted an eye at this kind of movie anyway. I chose to review it, because I wanted to watch a TV movie from that period of my life, something that might remind me of the time when things were much simpler. And I did enjoy being transported back to the early 80s, especially by the score, which had me reminiscing about them good ole’ days.

Portrait Of An Escort stars Susan Anspach as Jordan West, a naïve, single mother trying to raise her 13-year-old daughter in Hollywood. During the day she works with a real estate firm, but once her plan of asking her boss for a raise goes south, she decides to take her friend Sandy (Mary Fran) up on her offer to check out a “professional dating” service she’s a part of.

To make matters worse, Jordan’s daughter Jessica mentions she has met a man at the park. Jessica makes the mistake of answering her mother’s question of how old he is. When Jordan finds out this man is the same age as she, red flags go up, and she tells her daughter, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from him.

Jordan meets with the Madam, Mrs. Kennedy (Edie Adams), but is still hesitant to join. Eventually being poor becomes a drag and she accepts the job. But, for her, she’s simply a “professional dater,” and doesn’t have sex with any of her clients. She does, however, find out Sandy has taken that extra step.

While Jordan navigates this new world of literally escorting her clients on dates sans sex, she strikes up a friendship with a man named Beau (Tony Bill), who happens to be the man her daughter met at the park. Then she discovers that a stalker that has targeted her.

This isn’t a horror movie by any means, but it does have a stalker-ish aspect. It only comes into play intermittently throughout the film, not to mention being played rather tamely. The ending to that subplot does end in the tried and true horror fashion of having the mother and daughter trapped in their apartment as the stalker kills the power and tries to gain access to them.

MGM’s MOD sports a good-looking 1.33:1 transfer and sensible audio, and comes with no extras. Oh, yeah, and cult actor Kevin McCarthy (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Howling, Piranha) makes a guest appearance as one of Jordan’s clients.

While I didn’t love this film, I would probably watch it again. So, even if its on the edge of a knife, I have to say Portrait of an Escort Won Cannes.

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