Movie Review: The Girl Most Likely to... (1973)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

They treated her like a dog. Now, she's a fox. And she's going to make them pay.

When Joan Rivers passed away last week, lots of people were familiar with her zingy one-liners and her fashion police commentary. Less commonly known may be the fact that she wrote a kind of crazy, but entertaining television movie called The Girl Most Likely to... starring Stockard Channing, which aired on ABC in 1973.

The Girl Most Likely to... is a dark comedy, obviously far-fetched, but once you realize how dark and amusing it is, it's easy to see how it's quintessential Rivers humor--humor that was sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes acerbic towards others. This is a movie that revolves around appearances and looks, and Rivers was obviously very consumed with her own personal appearance, admitting to undergoing plastic surgery as early as right after her daughter Melissa was born ("I had two black eyes and told people the baby punched me in the eyes." she told David Muir on ABC News a few years ago.) 

In The Girl Most Likely to..., Channing plays Mirium Knight, a lonely, dowdy, overweight girl who is struggling to make friends in yet another new college (she has changed schools each time her social life didn't work out.) Channing looks like a homely older sister version of herself, with a large nose, protruding ears, haphazard frizzy hair, and a bulky wardrobe. But the one thing that Mirium is not is shy or socially awkward. She has no problem approaching people and trying to be witty or helpful, and it's painful to watch her get blown off and then increasingly blatantly disrespected throughout the first half of the movie. 

Where to begin? Well, she meets a guy to play pool with when he asks her out unseen (he was calling to originally ask out her blonde bimbo roommate Heidi) and when he sees what she looks like he tries to fake a story that his name is Ed and not Fred. Mirium is persistent, however, so he and his buddies blow her off when he sends her to get cream sodas.

Then she gets stuck tutoring a dimwitted football player, Moose, in Shakespeare. They end up going to a drive-in theater to watch Romeo and Juliet where Mirium gets deserted, again. 

But the worst incident for Mirium occurs when she develops a cold and goes to the campus infirmary where she meets the nerdy Dr. Ted Gates as played by Fred Grady (Gopher of The Love Boat fame.) Dr. Gates spends some time getting to know Mirium and asks her out. He seems like a nice guy--and a good match, considering the other doctors on staff are constantly busting his chops for being young, so Mirium relates to him. But after he tries to go too far on the first date (which takes place in a hospital's operating theater) and Mirium has to force him off of her, she flips on the light switch only to discover in horror that Ted has invited all of his cohorts to watch him put the moves on Mirium. (If this scene were being played out today, the scumbags would have recorded it on their smartphones and uploaded the videos to YouTube.)

And if all of that weren't humiliating enough, Mirium has to endure yet more cruelty when her roommate sabotages her role in a play by taking advantage of Mirium's allergy to roses. 

That's when Mirium drives away distraught in her car and is involved in an accident. The next scene cracked me up, as Mirium's head and upper body is seen swathed in bandages and casts. Her injuries have required plastic surgery and when the bandages are removed, Mirium has been miraculously transformed into the beautiful version of Stockard Channing we're all familiar with. Oh, she also has perfect makeup (gee, that hospital staff sure is multitalented) smooth hair, shaped eyebrows, and has lost of a lot weight...well, I guess we can assume the massive weight loss was from her sipping diet meals for several weeks. Like I said, this is a far-fetched movie but it's also a 1970s made-for-TV movie so I'm sure we can deal with it. 

Life is now also drastically different for that she's a stone cold fox, men practically bump into walls when she passes by. Mirium is still hurt from what all of those a-holes all did to her, and she realizes that she's now at an advantage. That's when she decides to do them all in, one at a time...while Ed Asner, playing a detective, is hot on her trail. 

Now I'm not going to lie to you. As someone who was teased and bullied by classmates growing up, this movie hit a bit of a nerve with me. And I can't say I was sorry for anyone in the film who gets bumped off by Mirium--they all had it coming. I honestly think--apart from wanting to murder anyone--that a lot of people can relate to this movie. It made me wonder if Rivers struggled with bullying growing up and if that's what inspired her to pursue plastic surgery so early on. 

This is a movie that would probably never pass muster for the Hallmark or Lifetime channels today, where all of their fairy tales have happy endings. The Girl Most Likely to... does have a happy ending, though, with a twist. This is definitely a well-done TV movie and the type of story that's great to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when it's too cold to go outside...because as we all know, revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Here's part 1 of The Girl Most Likely to.... The entire movie can be watched on YouTube. 


  1. Pam--this is just too weird, I was just talking about this movie a week ago, it was one of my favorite tv-movies of the 70s (along with "The People" and "Bad Ronald"). I saw this movie when I was around 11-12 years old, was stunned at Stockard Channing's transformation (and terrified at some of her revenge tactics, the idea of a "black comedy" was a new concept!)

    I did rewatch it on YouTube a year or so ago, as good as I remember--and to this day I had no idea Joan Rivers wrote it. Wow. Good piece!!

  2. Hi Doug - so glad you enjoyed it, and I'd say the law of attraction was working for you! It is indeed a pretty good little film and a nice effort on Joan Rivers' part...certainly a much better film that "Rabbit Test" which she also wrote and came out the following year, about a man (played by Billy Crystal) who gets pregnant. Ah, maybe it would still make for a blog post sometime.

    Thanks for stopping by, as usual--always love reading your comments!

  3. I only vaguely remember this movie, but I didn't realize it was a Joan Rivers creation!

    Just yesterday, I watched Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work on Netflix. If you didn't realize she was a workaholic before you watch that, you sure get the picture after. The language caught me off guard, too.

    Stockard Channing is underrated.

    Nice post - have a good day, Pam!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Cherdo! I'm only familiar with Joan Rivers' PG-rated humor except for some of the things she would say on her cable fashion police show (which was hysterical.) She will be missed. You have a great day as well!

  5. This movie really struck a nerve with me, because I was picked on by my peers. But it really struck a nerve with me later on in life. I'm a guy, and I was unattractive when I was younger (girls once yelled out UGLY, UGLY, UGLY from a car window). I've had many alterations to my appearance over a period of nearly thirty years, and I haven't stopped. Women are crawling all over the new me and calling me handsome, similar to what Miriam experienced with men.

  6. I have fondly remembered this movie for over 40 years. I watched it last night...and it stands up very, very well! Loved it!! A Classic!


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