Picks and Pans Review: Twist of Fate

updated 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun.-Mon., Jan. 8-9, 9 p.m. ET)


What well-made drivel this is. A Nazi SS officer who makes ovens for concentration camps fakes his own death and then undergoes plastic surgery so he can take on the identity of a Jew in one of those camps. After the war, he finds himself on a boat to Palestine, helps found the Jewish state there and becomes a general in the Israeli army until his past comes back to taunt him. This tale is supposed to be packed with impressive irony—but it is just strung together with contrived coincidence. That's one problem with Twist of Fate: its twisted plot. Here's another problem: We are not sure how to judge this man. He killed innocent Jews, but he also plotted to kill Hitler; he was an SS officer but also an Israeli freedom fighter. He makes these transformations all too easily, neither struggling with good and evil nor learning the line between right and wrong. One more problem: The movie's romances are simply silly. So the story is thin and tinny, but the production is silver-plated, thanks to a generally sparkling cast: Ben (Chariots of Fire) Cross plays the SS officer after his plastic surgery, John (An Early Frost) Glover is his Jewish comrade-in-arms, Ian (Cry Freedom) Richardson is a Nazi plastic surgeon, and Veronica (Hill Street Blues) Hamel plays Cross's wife. They take the show more seriously than it deserves to be taken.

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