Picks and Pans Review: Red Earth, White Earth

updated 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Thurs., Oct. 13, 9 p.m. ET)

B

There's something fresh about this flick—the look, the acting, the subject matter. But perhaps the film is a little too fresh. It's not quite ripe for prime-time picking. Red Earth, White Earth is set in a small Midwestern town where Indians and white farmers are fighting about land rights. That's part of the story. The rest of the story begins with Timothy (Almost Grown) Daly playing a local boy who left town and made good. He returns home because there's trouble: The farm owned by his grandfather, Richard (The Grey Fox) Farnsworth, is falling apart. Daly's father, Ralph (The Waltons) Waite, is drinking and also falling apart. And Daly's mother, Genevieve Bujold, was drinking and sleeping around and falling apart until she started living with an Indian (played by Billy Merasty). As Grandpa himself puts it, "Your father's weak. Your mother should be stoned." So that's another part of the story. And that's the problem with Red Earth, White Earth: It can't quite decide what the story is. The father-son confrontations, the ecological battles and the younger man-older woman romances just don't mix; they end up looking like dramatic succotash. Too bad, for everyone working on this film has cause for pride—the writer, the director, the cast. Bujold looks wonderful even while she has the honesty to wear her wrinkles. Waite makes a nice wastrel. And Daly strides through the show with confidence. I can recommend every scene in the movie more than I can recommend the movie.

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