Picks and Pans Review: Passion and Paradise
It was a hot and juicy murder that kept the society pages filled back in 1943, and now ABC turns it into a neat, two-night mini. Rod Steiger (having a welcome career resurgence these days) plays the murder victim, Sir Harry Oakes, an excessively wealthy gold miner who lived in the Bahamas with his proper wife (Mariette Hartley). Their lovely daughter (Catherine Mary Stewart) fell in love with the gigolo next door (Armand Assante) and married him—almost literally over her father's dead body. Soon after their wedding, Oakes was murdered in an odd way and his son-in-law was charged with the crime. Oakes's wife believed her son-in-law was guilty; Oakes's daughter believed he was innocent and hired a detective (Wayne Rogers) to find the truth. But there were complications. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, nicely portrayed as prototypes for Eurotrash, allegedly had evidence destroyed or hidden to conceal scandals in their own lives on the islands. And there were other suspects. Poor workers were talking revolution. Meanwhile, mobsters Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and real-estate moguls wanted to make the Bahamas a gambling haven—again, over Oakes's dead body ("These are the most beautiful islands in the world," he said. "I'm not going to sell them to a bunch of gangsters"). Here's a captivating tale well-told.