Rex Smith-A Teen Idol is Born
On March 25, 1979, I turned on the television in my bedroom with the white furniture and the red shag carpet to watch a movie that did not interest my parents at all. As I curled up in my bed, I was captivated by what I saw on the screen. A blonde Adonis with a guitar was falling in love with a girl who was several years younger (my age!) and he did not know it.
Photo from Pixabay and image created by the author on Canva
This movie, Sooner or Later, was a ratings success. It starred the then-popular Denise Miller (from Archie Bunker’s Place and Fish) and Rex Smith, an unknown talent who would become an overnight sensation and the next teen heart throb.
Why does the Rex Smith movie Sooner or Later still touch the hearts of middle aged women across America? Why does this coming of age film get women, who are long past the teen idol crush stage of life, grinning ear to ear?
A Summary of Sooner or Later
Jessie Walters is a thirteen year old girl whose curiosity about the opposite sex is awakening. She and her best friend, Caroline, are both crushing on older, unattainable guys. For Caroline, it is her dentist, but for Jessie, it is her seventeen year old guitar teacher, Michael Skye.
Michael barely notices Jessie at the beginning of the movie, but eventually a romance begins to build. Unfortunately, Michael believes that Jessie is sixteen, as that is what she told him.
In the film’s pivotal scene at the drive in movie, Michael makes a move on Jessie. But, she is only thirteen and is not ready any kind of making out. She tells Michael the truth, crushing him like a soda can.
At the end of the movie, the reconcile, and he promises to take things slowly as he loves her, too.
Why Do Women Like Myself Remember This Movie With Such Fondness?
Sooner or Later has captured the hearts of women like myself over the past forty years. Why is this?
I took an informal survey of my own forty-something friends. When I asked them if they remember this movie, I have gotten two reactions from those who had seen it.
The first one is a broad smile across their face as they recall the film and how they remember it. The other is an enthusiastic “Oh my G-d! I LOVED that movie! You have it? When I come over to watch it? I‘ll bring the wine!”
I have also read over one hundred reviews of the Sooner or Later DVD, as well as reviews on the trilogy of books by Bruce and Carole Hart. With rare exception, the reviews are all positive.
There are several reasons why Sooner or Later is remembered so fondly.
First of all, it is pure nostalgia. Sooner or Later is a classic example of made for television movies that were a staple of my 1970’s TV viewing. From the opening credits to the closing freeze frame of Jessie and Michael, it is 70’s kitsch at it’s best.
Sooner or Later also reminds women like myself of a simpler time in our lives. Back then, we were not responsible for children, aging parents, a job (or lack of one), paying the bills, a grumpy spouse, the economy or any of the adult worries we carry on our shoulders today. Like Jessie, we were free to go places alone or with a friend. The only way we can be left alone today is to turn off our phones, because our family will hunt us down if we ever took off without them!
Another reason why women repeatedly watch their Sooner or Later DVD over and over is Rex Smith. He was simply drop dead gorgeous, a generous helping of eye candy (especially with his shirt unbuttoned halfway down!) His portrayal of Michael-a sweet Southern boy who is a bit shy and a little unsure of himself-is touching. Most guys who are that good looking know it and are full of themselves.
But not Michael. Maybe it’s because his mother abandoned him when they moved up North from Atlanta (if Mama doesn’t love him enough to stay, who else would?) When he sings to Jessie “I don’t know what you see, what you see in me”, he means it. Really? We ladies could see it a mile away!
Girls watching the movie loved how Michael treats to Jessie. From the first time he picks her up at school, his face is full of happiness and eager anticipation. He simply cannot wait to see her! When was the last time your significant other looked at you that way?
Michael is also gentle and tender with Jessie, from their first kiss and the way he strokes her cheek, to the sensitive way he asks her what the matter is while they are at the movies. Guys, here’s a clue-chicks dig this stuff!
One of Sooner or Later’s most memorable scenes is when Michael sings a love song to Jessie. Every teenage girl has had that same fantasy-a handsome singer (fill in your favorite-Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, and Shaun Cassidy were mine) serenades you with song he wrote just for you in front of a crowd. Yes girls, eat your hearts out, he’s singing to me!
The biggest reason women are so enamored with this film is that it is about falling in love for the first time. It’s not a story about your junior high puppy love or infatuation with an unreachable older guy…this is is about your first love-the one that stays with you your entire life.
Denise Miller and Rex Smith’s movie Sooner or Later has touched an entire generation of women. It takes overworked, overstressed, way too busy middle aged women back to a simpler, more gentle time in our lives. When I need a mood lifter, I just pop in my DVD, watch my favorite scenes, and then I am humming Jessie’s Song for the rest of the day.
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I am a momprenuer who has been writing online since 2010. In addition to my online endeavors, I am a preschool and Hebrew School teacher, volunteer, Girl Scout leader, wife and mother of three. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://www.spacial-anomaly.com. I am also a member of Linkshare, Zazzle and Commission Junction Products from these services may be advertised on my posts as a means of generating sales commissions.