Picks and Pans Review: The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains

updated 11/02/1987 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1987 01:00AM

HBO (Sat., Oct. 31, 8 p.m. ET)

D+

Why would anyone with any sense take a story that has already been made into a four-star film classic—1932's I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang—and turn it into another movie, a bad movie? In this, the show that begs that question, Val (Top Gun) Kilmer plays Robert Elliot Burns, an innocent man who was sentenced to a Georgia chain gang and twice escaped. When Paul Muni played out that same true tale 55 years ago, it was an expose of Southern prison brutality. Now it is an exhausted cliché complete with a mean warden (Charles Durning), a drawlin' guard (William Sanderson of Newhart) and droolin' hounds. These poor actors just trudge from scene to scene, doing hard labor with a script that leaves out dozens of details vital to the story and ruins the drama that is still there, even after all these years. What a crime.

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