Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story (1996)

Brooke Johnson in Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story (1996)

Rage at the System

For the first 20 minutes of "Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story" we are immersed into the world of Marlene Moore in prison. We see how this young woman is angry, volatile, defensive and poorly treated by guards who appear to go out of their way to torment and humiliate her. What we also briefly see is that from a young age Mandy was poorly treated by her parents and that she ended up in prison for pulling a blade on a cop. But the whole of this intro is all about setting up the character of Marlene Moore as being an extremely aggressive and dangerous person and this opening in its brutality with scenes of attempted suicide and ill treatment has you gripped.

That is how it was of me as I sat down to watch "Dangerous Offender" a movie which due to its extended title I guessed was based on a true story but had never heard of this Marlene Moore person. These opening 20 minutes hooked me not only due its volatile nature but in a need to understand what happened to Marlene Moore to end up not only in prison but also be the first woman to be sentenced to an indefinite prison sentence because of her being classed as a danger to society. And as the movie progresses we get to understand exactly how Marlene Moore ended up such a violent and defensive woman whilst also seeing her going through the court case to determine whether she is a dangerous offender.

Sara Botsford in Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story (1996)

Now I am not going to go into a lot of detail over what we see when it comes to Marlene's life and the abuse she suffered both at home and whilst in prison or how this movie ends. But what I will say is that what we witness and hear, the stories of abuse such as being handcuffed to a cot for two weeks to lay in her own urine is upsetting and unsettling and that is by no means the worst of it. What you realise is that Marlene Moore was dangerous but she was also a victim of the system and despite the aggression had a reasonable and sensitive side.

But whilst what we see and learn is hard hitting it is the acting of Brooke Johnson which will grab you the most. She manages to convey the violent side of Marlene's character yet also shows the tenderness beneath it, that sense of having to be tough and defensive yet also knowing how to be decent to people. It is hard to describe but Johnson's is so full on so committed that you won't be able to take your eyes off of her despite their being other more recognizable actors in the cast.

What this all boils down to is that "Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore Story" is an extremely powerful movie and one which unlike many TV movies is genuinely unsettling. But it is extremely well made with Brooke Johnson doing an amazing job of playing Marlene Moore.