Picks and Pans Review: American Playhouse: All My Sons

updated 01/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Mon., Jan. 19, 9 p.m. ET)


American Playhouse opens its sixth season with Arthur Miller's 1947 play about business and the corruption of the average man. James Whitmore and his partner are jailed for selling defective airplane parts to the Army and killing 21 pilots. Whitmore clears himself and comes home, but things aren't rosy there. His loyal wife, Michael Learned, is driving herself crazy believing that their son Larry wasn't really killed in the war. Their other son, Aidan (An Early Frost) Quinn, wants to marry Larry's girl—played wonderfully by Joan (Manhunter) Allen—who, to complicate matters, is also the daughter of Whitmore's imprisoned partner. It's the kind of play where people seem happy and sane until they start screaming. They scream a lot, revealing no end of sticky family secrets about greed and fraud. Sons could be the perfect play to watch in the era of Ivan Boesky. Problem is, the issues in the play are more clear-cut, too clear-cut: about death, war, patriotism. The troubles in business these days are muddier, and that's what makes All My Sons look dated.

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