Deborah Ballin (played brilliantly by Lee Grant) is a fiercely independent television journalist with very strong opinions. She has a clear stance on what she feels is justifiable. Although she has taken a position on non-violence she has become an advocate for Janet Macklin, a woman who claims to have killed her abusive husband in self-defense.
One of the custodial staff at the station, Colt Hawker, is a sociopath with a strong loathing of women, especially strong women who will stand their ground. We learn through flashbacks that this hatred began with his own mother. We see young Colt with his alcoholic father as a child. It is crystal clear that father and son love each other. We cut to the kitchen where Colt’s mom is preparing dinner and his dad is behaving in an awful manner towards his mother. (Whether his father was abusive or not is never made clear) She warns him to leave her alone. He continues trying to undress her in the kitchen to have sex despite her plea. Colt walks in as his mother throws a pan of hot oil into his father’s face disfiguring him for life. We learn that she left after that and neither father nor son has ever seen her again. Since that time women are held with profound disgust by Colt. He has seen the segment Deborah has shot in defending the Macklin woman and it sets him off.
Deborah arrives home that night unaware that Colt is in her house. Colt brutally attacks Deborah meaning to end her life. She calls out the window to a neighbor for help and the intrusion is interrupted by the neighbor, thus, sparing Deborah’s life. She is taken to County General Hospital. She has lived through what she thought was a robbery in her home and has no idea that her nightmare has just begun. She is about to discover that this attack is aimed at her directly because of her support for Janet Macklin. She knows she is being stalked like prey and no one will believe her. The body count begins to rise in the hospital as Colt continues on his quest to terminate her life. Deborah scared and hunted will have to rethink her position on non-violence because in this situation it is the one and only way to save herself.
What can we learn from Deborah Ballin?
We are entitled to strong opinions. It let’s us know that we are forming ideas and thinking for ourselves. This is one of our rights as an individual and as a human being. People may not agree with you and that is the time that we may have to be fiercely independent. If you are impassioned about something this is acceptable. People don’t have to like it and it may cause resentment from some. There are people we do not agree with and we need to keep in mind that it is a two way street.
Deborah is very adamant about non-violence, however she feels Janet Macklin had a valid reason for what she did. She believes it enough to promote the case and try to get Macklin a new trial in which, she hopes, will set this woman free rather than punish her for her actions. We all have things we feel very insistent about. The thing to know is that many times there are exceptions to the rules and we need to look at those instances in an unbiased manner. There is right and there is wrong. On occasion something we would deem wrong can actually be justified and have merit.
Like Deborah we may have some one that hates us for our beliefs, and hopefully none of us will ever have an attempt made on our life because of it. This person may set out to punish us without regard to the fact that we are permitted to hold to that ideal. It could be someone at work or in a social circle, worst case it could be a family member. Why? Because the ideals you hold dare to be different than theirs. That simple. Be prepared for it should it ever happen. In the 13 years I lived in Georgia this happened to me on a fairly regular basis, My ideas were too radical for many of the people where we lived. It was a town that was huge on religion and there were a few families that called most of the shots because they held a place of entitlement by name and/or money. (You gotta love small town politics) I never set out to cause animosity, yet I was not going to back down when I had taken position on what I believed to be a legitimate point. No one has the right to attack you because your thoughts contradict their own. We, in turn, need to offer courtesy to someone who thinks differently than we do. We don’t have to like it, however, they are entitled to the same respect we are.
Sometimes we know without a shadow of a doubt, like Deborah, that someone is gunning for us. They would take no greater pleasure than seeing us isolated from everyone else or get to watch us fall apart at the seams. If you talk to people about it they may just say you are being paranoid. This could be but that little inner voice usually is sending out a warning to watch your back. Just take caution and pay attention to your surroundings. If you are wrong (and at times you will be) you can excuse it as taking a brief leave of your senses. On the other hand, if you are correct, paying attention may be the one thing that pulls you out of a potentially unpleasant situation. If you choose to talk to someone about it be very careful who you pick to express your concerns to. They could be friends with the very person who is trying to seal your fate. It is better to sit back and watch and try to figure out who without involving anyone other than a best friend. If you can pinpoint who it is, that puts you are on even ground and then you can do something (always in an ethical manner) about it.
Deborah learns that despite her stance on non-violence that it is kill or be killed. I am sure she walks away from the entire experience with a new outlook on what she held to be right and true. How many times have we said “I’d never do that” and then end up in a situation where you end up doing the very thing you showed disdain for. The lesson here is you are never too old to learn. You may have to change your thinking from time to time because you realize that you were erroneous in your judgement. If this happens claim it and show no shame. You are human and you are allowed to err.
“Visiting Hours” is a taught and fast pace thriller with edge of your seat excitement. This column about Deborah Ballin features just one of the women in this film. There are a total of 3 women who make up this story. Each and everyone is a Movie Bad Girl and is a joy to watch as we are taken on a terrifying journey where these women’s lives will weave together with each other and a killer.
“Visiting Hours” (1982)
stars: Lee Grant, Michael Ironside, Linda Purl, Lenore Zann and William Shatner
The movie is rated “R” and contains graphic violence and language.
I give this movie 7.5 out of 10