Picks and Pans Review: Cross of Fire

updated 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Nov. 5, 9 P.M. ET)

A

Racism rears its ugly head in this well-acted two-part miniseries based on true incidents in 1920s' Indianapolis. The often compelling mini follows the rise and crashing fall of D.C. Stephenson, a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Meaty performances are served up by stars John Heard (as Stephenson), Mel Harris and David Morse. Heard has a tough assignment, playing a rapist and possible murderer of a schoolteacher who turned political activist, and he goes as smugly and unrepentantly low as a TV villain has ever gone. Harris, who mostly whines on thirtysomething as Hope, shines here in the role of the victim. And Morse, the St. Elsewhere star, also weighs in with a quietly powerful performance as the heroic attorney who fights for Harris's reputation.

Good supporting touches are turned in by Lloyd Bridges (as Stephenson's slimy attorney) and George Dzundza (as a liberal newspaper man), but the leads own this movie.

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