Picks and Pans Review: Night Crossing

updated 03/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

The fact that this is a true story of two families' flight in a hot-air balloon from East to West Germany deprives it of some potential nail-biting suspense. (The production also comes from the Walt Disney studios, where unhappy endings are anathema.) Yet it is a well-crafted, honest film directed by Delbert Mann. Political polemics are minimized in favor of focusing on the families, one headed by John Hurt and Jane Alexander, the other by Beau Bridges and Glynnis O'Connor. Hurt is superb as a grim, ingenious electrician who builds the balloon's heating system; Alexander plays her usual fretful Earth Mother/devoted wife. At one point she conscientiously cleans house before fleeing, though only the police will be coming there. Bridges, however, with his all-American looks and voice, seems absurdly out of place, like some beach-movie refugee who surfed over the Berlin Wall. Klaus Löwitsch's nasty, snooping policeman provides all the villainy needed. (PG)

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