Original Air Date: October 25th, 1983
Is it just me, or does the title First Affair lead you to believe that there will be more affairs in store? Tsk, tsk...
I saw this movie when it first aired all the way back in 1983 and I remember watching it because even then at the tender age of 12, I had a crush on Joel Higgins. I think it started when he was on Best of the West, but I’ll save that for another blog!
I recall thinking First Affair was a pretty good movie, but minus a confrontation scene between Loretta Switt and Melissa Sue Anderson (which turned out to not be all that confrontational), I couldn't remember a thing about it. Well, besides Joel Higgins being all cute with his grey sideburns...Oh, there I go again! Anyway, I am happy to report that this movie has held up well and takes a distasteful (albeit, salacious) topic and turns into an engaging film which doesn't portray its characters as good or bad. And I also found it very romantic.
Melissa Sue Anderson is Toby King, an innocent Harvard Freshman. She's on a scholarship which means she's not financially set and can't make ends meet. She gets a job from her literary teacher, Professor Jane Simon (Loretta Switt) as a part time sitter. Here she meets the Professor's handsome husband, Greg (Joel Higgins). He's an uber-successful architect that is not very happy with his marriage, even though to everyone on the outside, it seems strong. Through a series of encounters, Anderson and Higgins build a friendship that becomes oh-so-much more. Strangely, neither were all that bent out of shape nor did they really seem to care what might happen if Jane were to find out... And oh yeah, does she find out! Trust me, then they care!
Although I can't say I condone the actions of either of the people in this tawdry coupling, I will admit First Affair is a sweet and romantic movie. I'm surprised that Joel Higgins didn't become a much bigger leading man. He's handsome and, even more importantly, quite likeable. Melissa Sue Anderson is at her most beautiful and her icy blue eyes are magnetizing. She plays an innocent character that isn't stupid, just caught up in being an adult for the first time in her life. Loretta Switt is also very good in her role and looks lovely. She maintains strength even when delving into her weaknesses (like when she says “I can’t compete with an 18 year old.” I hear you, honey!)
There's no question that what is going on is wrong. No simple, pat answers are given to either the couple or Loretta. And although they just brush past the deeper issues (especially after they are caught), the movie doesn't make enemies out of them and keeps them complex, just like their situation.
Kim Delany and Amanda Bearse also put in fun, early performances, if their characters seem kind of forgettable. Plus, I have always enjoyed movies that take place in ivy league schools. Granted, I usually enjoy them better if someone is being stabbed, but romance is good too! First Affair is available on vhs and is a great watch on a quiet weekend afternoon.