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January 21, 2015 | Posted in MOVIES | By

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.

Rex Smith Sooner or Later 40th Anniversary

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

Available on Amazon

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 thirty 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!

Available on Amazon

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.

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 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.


  1. Nanci Arvizu

    Nanci Arvizu
    June 29, 2015

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    I remember this movie too, and swooning and sighing…
    But watching the first video now, I’m thinking – no way does that guy look 17.
    Still, what a nice memory to have of a sweet movie.
    Great article!

  2. Hannah Gold
    August 29, 2015

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    Thank you! This could never be made today, but I love watching it and going back to a much more innocent time.

  3. Brian Gomez
    September 1, 2015

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    I was this movie a couple of times in the mid 80s when I was only in first grade or so, and loved it. It is one of those movies that stayed in my head and I just found the name out today.

  4. April
    November 25, 2015

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    GREAT article. I am 47 and somehow remembered this movie tonight and you have described exactly how it still makes me feel. Thank you! I am not alone!

  5. Krista
    January 22, 2016

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    Oh yes, Remember it well all the way down to the song. Read the book and watched the movie as a kid.

  6. Lori Gingrich
    January 23, 2016

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    I LOVE this movie. It was a simpler time, and watching Rex Smith for 96 minutes never hurt anyone =)!! I am 48 and I could watch this movie over and over still… In fact watching the videos make my eyes teary. =)

    • Hannah Gold
      January 24, 2016

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      Watching the movie takes me back in time to when life was uncomplicated. I wonder if young girls today will have this kind of feeling about a movie they watched as teens.

  7. Laura Pasquier
    February 15, 2016

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    one of my best movies of all times! I still remember the first time I watched it…wow it brings so many happy memories! Thanks for writing this article!!

    • Hannah Gold
      February 15, 2016

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      You are welcome! Writing this brought back a lot of fond memories for me as well.

  8. danni
    April 12, 2016

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    I was 14 the first and only time I saw this movie. I spent the next many years looking for it and finally ….. 31 years later.. I found it online on dvd. Now this movie stays in my safe unless I want to watch it. This has been my favorite movie all these years. It takes me back to my innocent days and instilled in me what love is suppose to be.

    • Hannah Gold
      April 12, 2016

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      Danni, your reaction is so similar to mine and the women I know. There was some kind of magic in this simple film that could never be made today.

  9. Carol Winner
    July 2, 2016

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    Thank you for this blog about this little gem of a movie that has touched so many lives and has stayed in our hearts and memories over the last 37 years. 4 years ago I was reunited with the movie while surfing Youtube….and ever since then I have been on a mission to reach out to fellow fans in hopes to lead them back to the main man who made that movie what it is, Rex Smith! He is still so talented and still gorgeous as ever!! Also in case you weren’t aware..Rex has a Facebook page/Twitter too!. I also manage a group titled “Forever4Rex” which Rex himself is a member as well. Yup that movie may not work today…But it sure packed a punch back in 1979 🙂

    • Hannah Gold
      July 2, 2016

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      You are welcome! This movie is simply pure delight to fans who watch it. Honestly, it never gets old for me!

      • Carol Winner
        July 2, 2016

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        Agree! hey if you have facebook, look me up 🙂

  10. Michelle Michaels
    September 7, 2016

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    I know I’m a little late to the “Sooner or Later” reawakening Party but my enthusiasm for the soirée is in no way diminished by the time span incurred. I only recently became reacquainted with the “drop dead” gorgeous Rex Smith earlier this year and have been voraciously searching for all things associated with this movie and Rex’s career following it.
    So, oh yes! This movie brings back all those early adolescent feelings of heady anticipation of potential romances in my youth. Alongside those exciting emotions also came all those angst filled moments of unrequited affections. Will any boy ever notice me much less ask me out on a date?! Not to worry! If 13 yr.old Jessie can snag a Greek god like Michael Skye surely there’s hope for someone like me, a four eyed,braces wearing ugly duckling! Right?! Well thank goodness for movies like “Sooner or Later” that gave girls like me something to fill up our calendars and to inspire us to enhance our opportunities to emulate Jessie’s good fortune. I took up jogging later that spring of 1979 in hopes of “running” into someone like Michael Skye in my neighborhood!(insert big laugh here) A girl can dream, right?!

  11. Hannah Gold
    December 11, 2016

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    Michelle, thanks for your comment. There is something about this movie that just strikes a chord in women our age.

  12. Clare Malenovitch
    January 13, 2018

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    I have read the book several times and watched the movie Um-teem times. I never get sick of it…and I’m 48! It’s very nostalgic….and you are right to say it brings you back in time to when life was simple as a kid. Thanks for sharing.

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