Picks and Pans Review: Pack of Lies

updated 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Sun., April 26, 9 p.m. ET)


This great 1983 play by Hugh (Concealed Enemies) Whitemore started in London, went to Broadway and now comes to TV in an elegantly restrained adaptation. Pack of Lies is a true spy story with no cloaks, no daggers, only ordinary people in a London suburb. Ellen Burstyn plays a stiff and mousy housewife who adores her tea klatches with the loud but lovable American lady across the street, Teri Garr. Then an agent of British intelligence, Alan Bates, comes to see Burstyn. He wants to use her home so he can snoop on Garr's house and on the mysterious stranger who visits there: a KGB spy. Soon everyone is smudged with dirty secrets; everyone lies. Burstyn resists the urge to give us an easy overdose of angst. Garr keeps herself from bubbling over. And Bates makes his spy-catcher not only silky but also slithery. Director Anthony (Second Serve) Page gets the best out of the stars, the fine supporting cast and the script, letting this story build to a surprisingly powerful punch. How good it is to see a TV movie that can be serious without diatribes or diseases.

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