In the Custody of Strangers

In the Custody of Strangers
In the custody of strangers.jpg
Written by Jennifer Miller
Directed by Robert Greenwald
Starring Emilio Estevez
Martin Sheen
Jane Alexander
Music by Matthew McCauley
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Farnk Vor Zerneck
Cinematography Isidore Mankofsky
Editor(s) Robert Florio
Running time 120 minutes
Production company(s) Filmways Television
Moonlight Productions
Distributor ABC
Original network ABC
Original release May 26, 1982 (1982-05-26)

In the Custody of Strangers is a 1982 ABC made-for-TV drama film. It was directed by Robert Greenwald and written by Jennifer Miller. The film stars Martin Sheen, Jane Alexander and Emilio Estevez, the latter in his feature film debut. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television but lost to Brideshead Revisited.

Plot synopsis

Based on a true story. Danny Caldwell (Emilio Estevez) is an angry small-town teen whose father has been laid off and can't find work. His mother Sandy (Jane Alexander) works in order to provide for the family of five. Caldwell, frustrated with the town, tries to get work or leave the town to find a decent job, but often butts heads with his father (played by real-life father, Martin Sheen), whose staunch perception is that allowing his son to go to work is a threat to his masculinity. In other words, a father should provide for the family, not his wife, and certainly not the boy.

So, Danny and his father are at odds a lot and, as a result, the teen indulges in a lot of trouble, particularly a night of joyriding drunk and hitting a police car, which is what lands him in trouble. The dad supposes that maybe a night in jail is just what the kid needs to straighten up, but, due to events that happen while Danny is incarcerated, he ends up spending six weeks in jail on assault charges. Meanwhile, his father gets a job in Ohio and the family has to move. At his trial the assault charges are dropped and he is charged only with drunk driving and operating without a license. He is sentenced as time served and released. His parents realize the mistake of leaving their son in jail and tell the people in the courtroom that they really need to change how they treat children that come to them. Danny returns home to his family and their home but is forever changed by his time in jail.