Wednesday, February 03, 2010
With DIFF’RENT STROKES, Gary Coleman became one of the most popular actors on TV. After a few TV movies, he made his feature film debut with 1981’s ON THE RIGHT TRACK.
A staple of the early days of pay cable, where I must have seen it 20 times at least, the film stars Gary as Lester, a shoeshine boy with a special power. When he is shining shoes, he can predict who wins various horse races. If I remember correctly, he lives underground in a train station and is afraid to go into the outside world.
The supporting cast included Maureen Stapleton, Norman Fell, Michael Lemberck and Lisa Eilbacher. Jami Gertz is billed in the credits as “Big Girl”. This was a year before SQUARE PEGS and her first feature film.
There were four credited writers on the film. Of those four, for two (Avery Buddy and Richard Moses if those are their real names) it is still their only credit. It was the final credit for Lester Pine, who had written mainly in TV (PETER GUNN, DOBIE GILLIS, BEN CASEY) who wrote with his wife and frequent collaborator Tina.
Director Lee Philips was another TV veteran, having worked on PEYTON PLACE, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, THE DONNA REED SHOW, GIDGET, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, ROOM 222, THE DORIS DAY SHOW and several TV movies. It appears this was his only feature film.
As for the quality of the film, I haven’t seen it in 25 years so couldn’t tell you. While it was always on cable, it has rarely been seen since.
Released by Twentieth Century Fox, the film hasn’t been released on video since the days of CBS/Fox Home Video. Copies are going for $60 on Amazon.