A Separate Peace
In his first movie, Parker starred as Gene, a prep school student whose friendship with another student results in confusion and tragedy. Parker first bursts onto the screen carrying a lacrosse stick, running and laughing with a group of other teenage boys led by a blonde named Finney. But the high spirits of his character are soon eroded when he finds himself unable to say no to Finney's constant adventures and physical challenges. Craving Finney's friendship and approval, but resenting him as well, and not knowing how to deal with the paradox, Gene's laughter fades more and more often into a blank expression. His suppressed emotion finally comes out in an act of violence that may or may not be deliberate.
John Knowles, the author of the novel on which the film is based, had this to say about Parker in a brief article written for Esquire Magazine: "Parker Stevenson has all the intelligence crossed with definite athletic ability necessary to play Gene. On the surface, in life, he seems almost too accomodating and conformist, at first. But I detected underneath a steely will to do it his way, to pursue his independently selected goals, which is all the stronger and more stubborn from his surface affability."
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from "The Great Romantic Films"
by Lawrence J. Quick
"As for the tree incident, everything points to Gene's homosexual love-hate conflicts, which at sixteen frightened him, causing the fall of Finney at the hands of his best buddy. . . Gene was really the fallen one who sought to exorcise his pal's domination of his life and thoughts by symbolically emasculating and reducing him with a broken leg.
"John Heyl and Parker Stevenson, amateurs with, however, confident and clear personality projection to their credit, offer the correct cinematic images of Finney and Gene. . . .
"We are confronted, like it or lump it, with Finney, the all-American Loverboy whose strength is as the strength of ten because his heart is pure, in puppyishly-innocent pursuit of Gene, who is not so pure, and who, despite his physical and emotional hungers, is a cautious, self-protective, independent-style weasel who turns on, and destroys, what he subconsciously loves but simultaneously regards as a threat to his wholeness and individuality."
In "Our Time" Parker again played a student at a private, all-boys school. The movie really belongs to Pamela Sue Martin and Betsy Slade, whose characters experience very different consequences after their first sexual encounters. Parker plays Pamela's boyfriend, Michael, with whom she sneaks away for a first experience of sex at a hotel. Their scenes throughout the film are tender and awkward. Parker does a good job of portraying a boy torn between the intensity of his newly-awakened sexual desires and his desire to care for and protect the girl he loves.
Michael and Abby run away to a hotel room to make love for the first time.
Five years later, Frank Hardy would confront Nancy Drew for the first time
in a hotel room - and end up on the floor after she used judo to prevent
him from removing her luggage.
Michael awaits Abby in bed. He's startled and dismayed when she appears wearing a turtleneck sweater under her satiny nightgown.
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A decade before Baywatch, Parker played Chris, a college student with a summer job assisting senior lifeguard Rick Carlson (Sam Elliott). As Chris, Parker spends most of his time gettings lessons in lifeguarding - and life - from Elliott.
Acting in "Lifeguard" was a Turning Point for Parker
"Before 'Lifeguard' travel, money and girls lured [Parker] into acting. After that film experience he started to become an actor for what he calls the right reasons.
"'A light went on,' says he, 'and everything fell into place. Since then, I find that every role I play takes me deeper into acting. After the filming I went back to Princeton to study architecture but the motion picture experience kept eating at me. I found a new freedom I'd never known before the Lifeguard experience. The fantasy element was part of the excitement."
- from Drama-Logue magazine, Aug. 27 - Sept. 2 1987 issue
Interview by Viola Hegyi Swisher
Parker Stevenson and Sam Elliott in "Lifeguard."
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