Before the Lifetime network scared kids out of sex with movies like "She's Too Young," network television was keeping grown-ups out of bed with gems like 1983's "Intimate Agony." Both movies deal with the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, but "Intimate Agony" is definitely a more memorable film considering its all-star cast.
This movie originally aired on ABC (when networks aired plenty of cool made-for-TV flicks) and featured Anthony Geary (a big star at the time thanks to "General Hospital) as Dr. Kyle Richards. He arrives to a community in the Hamptons and makes a shocking discovery ... nearly everyone has herpes!! His playboy buddy Tommy (Mark Harmon in an awesome role) has no doubt been spreading them to his tennis pupils. Married businessman Nick (Brian Kerwin) also has them ... and he's married to a very pregnant wife. Real estate mogul Dave Fairmont (Robert Vaughn perhaps creating a blueprint for Donald Trump) discovers his teen daughter is infected. And Dr. Richards' possible love interest Marsha (the always amazing Judith Light) finds out that her last lover has given her this STD.
Richards wants to create an awareness campaign, but money hungry Fairmont thinks that a herpes scare will impact his real estate deals! The kindly doctor also wants to counsel those who have been infected, but that's easier said than done. Once diagnosed with the disease, everyone feels like the walking dead. Still, Dr. Richards knows that education is the key to preventing and coping with the disease.
Honestly, I never saw myself spending an afternoon watching a movie about herpes, but "Intimate Agony" is pretty good! Yes, it's a bit on the soap opera-side considering its sudsy leads (Geary, Light, Harmon), but it's well made with compelling stories that are linked together. And it's never too preachy ... letting Geary's good guy doctor lead the discussion on the consequences of venereal diseases.
I remembered when this movie popped up on TV back in the early 80s ... with a stern "Parental discretion is advised" warning. This was just before AIDS/HIV was in the headlines, so the thought of a herpes story may seem outdated. Still, the material is handled with a mix of sensitivity and melodrama. As the headlines suggests, this is not on Lifetime (but could be). It's actually on YouTube! See below for a link to the full feature. The quality isn't exactly HD, but check it out anyways. It definitely holds up thanks to solid acting from the star players.