Picks and Pans Review: A Friendship in Vienna

updated 08/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Disney (Sat., Aug. 27, 7 p.m. ET)

A-

If all educational TV were this good, maybe we'd still be a well-educated country. A Friendship in Vienna tells the story of two girls, one Jewish and one Catholic, during the Anschluss, Hitler's annexation of Austria in 1938. The movie educates without insulting the intelligence of its young audience. It recreates a period in history without getting dusty and lifeless. Most important, it teaches a moral lesson without being haughty and self-righteous. Jane Alexander and Stephen Macht star as the parents of the Jewish girl, and Ed Asner plays her wise grandfather. But this is a channel for young people, so it's only right that the real stars are the two girls, Jenny Lewis and Kamie Harper. When Jewish children in school are forced by Nazi edict to sit in the back of the classroom, the Catholic girl sits with them and is beaten by her Nazi father for the gesture. The Jewish girl learns not to hate her Catholic friend for having such bigoted thugs in her family. In the face of fear and pressure all around them, the girls learn to choose what's right: friendship and courage. A Friendship in Vienna is not only educational and worthwhile, it is also dramatic.

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