Picks and Pans Review: The Tuskegee Airmen

updated 08/28/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sat., Aug 0.26, 8 p.m. ET)

B

This fact-based melodrama tells the story of the Fighting 99th, the first all-black World War II fighter pilot squadron.

After facing constant indignities and discouragement during their flight training in the Deep South, the airmen find dogfights with the Luftwaffe over North Africa and Italy a breeze. John Lithgow plays a fictionalized senator who spearheads a racist effort to keep the squadron grounded.

Despite fine period evocation and solid performances by Laurence Fishburne, Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street) and Allen Payne (Jason's Lyric), the film remains a somber, plodding recounting of a remarkable story.

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