Picks and Pans Review: Camille

updated 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Tuesday, Dec. 11, 9 p.m. ET)

Greta (Heat and Dust) Scacchi could not be more beautiful as Marguerite, the poor French girl who becomes Paris' most elegant courtesan, known as Camille. She does her best with a part that is as musty as it is melodramatic. Scacchi comes to Paris so wide-eyed and virginal that she doesn't know what a courtesan is. But she soon becomes one and suddenly, instantly, loses all her innocence. She is supported by the likes of Sir John Gielgud as the Duke de Charles, but falls in love with Colin (Another Country) Firth as Armand Duval. Armand cannot afford her—"Loving me is expensive," she says, "so let's just be friends"—and his father, played by Ben (Gandhi) Kingsley, does not approve. So surprise, surprise, tragedy befalls them. The script is filled with clichés and prose as crimson as whorehouse velvet. Take, for example, this morning-after exchange between Scacchi and Firth. She: "I don't want to love you." He: "But you do. Last night..." She: "Last night meant nothing." He: "It meant everything." Or his line: "I never knew there could be such agony in love." Or hers: "He's the first, the only man I've ever loved. I'd die for him if I had to." The cast couldn't be better and the photography is simply gorgeous, making your TV screen look like a French Impressionist painting. But this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' story comes off with so many sighs that you want to hold your breath in self-defense.

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