Laureen Connolly, whose iron will determination made her queen of amateur tennis world in the early 1900'smight have been the equal of the woman tennis players in history, theexperts say. But whether she would have surpassed the champions noone will ever know, because a freak accident * cut short her career before she was 20 years old.
The triumphs and tragedy of Connolly, the first woman to win the Grand Slam of tennis (the American, English, French and Australian titles), [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in "Little Mo." which air tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. on Channel 4 on the NBC World Premiere Movie. Premiere Movie.
Connolly's life has all the elements dramatic powerhouse, but the [WORD ILLGIBLE] is too long (three hours), poorly developed and lacks viable characters. Claude Akins as Little Mo's stepfather comes on like an ogre, and the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of Little Mo herself, at age 34, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] almost an afterthought.
The production traces Connolly's life from the beginning in San Diego, where she insists on learning tennis despite scant encouragement from her mother and staunch opposition from her stepfather, through 1953, when she won the Grand Slam and was named female athlete of the year, to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] horseback riding accident that [WORD ILLEGIBLE] competitive playing for her and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] death from cancer in 1969.
The dramatization of Connolly's life [WORD ILLEGIBLE] into the framework of other recentTV movies about athletes - football palyer Brian Piccolo, golfer Babe [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Zaharias, basketball player [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Stokes and boxer Joe Louis. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] also timely, coming during the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of the U.S.Open Championships.
On the plus column, there are some heartwarming moments and a capable [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Glynnis O'Connor, who appeared on NBC's telecast of "Our Town" in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] is excellent as the ambitious, and confident Connolly, and Michael Leonard, of the Waltons, is sunny and tough as "Teach" Tennant the widely known California tennis coach.
Overall, however, Connolly's life could have been telescoped into less time to make for more dramatic firepower.