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It could have been a lot better. The basic premise had potential. Five women who survived a Nazi concentration camp discover that the camp's commander is now living in Los Angeles and they set out to take their own revenge on him by killing him and facing the consequences as a group by all confessing to the murder. A lot could have been done with that story, but a lot wasn't done with it - or, a lot that was done with it didn't really work. The cast was OK. There were a lot of small screen veterans (Loretta Swit, Valerie Harper, Barbara Barrie among others) so the faces are familiar, although they could have done a better job with the fake accents. The development of the plan is a bit convoluted, and apparently takes place between rounds of a weekly mahjong game that the five play. I could believe the problems that the plot caused on the women's marriages, although thought there was maybe a bit too much focus on that particular issue, and it made this perhaps a bit too "soap-ish." The ending of the movie came as a bit of a surprise, although perhaps it was too contrived. In the end, the basic point here seemed to be that revenge doesn't really satisfy. The women got their revenge, but in the end seemed to acknowledge that they were still trapped in the horrors of their past. That was a decent philosophical reflection on revenge.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie when it first aired and for some reason have never
Five holocaust survivors, all women, learn or suspect that the doctor (Rip Torn) who tormented them in the camp is now running a restaurant under an assumed name.
They disagree over his identity. Mostly it is Valerie Harper who holds out on if it is him or not and what they should do about it, mainly letting it go, but the other women, especially Swit, seem bent on pursuing it.
When she suspects he isn't the villain, Swit ends up falling in love with him and having a relationship. Balderdash, yes.
Then in the same evening of of their little tryst, she learns the truth: he IS the Nazi tormentor.
She strikes him in self defense, and he dies.
She plays innocent as the other women learn of the death the next day and that someone has been arrested for the murder!
The women realize one of them is the killer, not the man accused, so they hatch a plan for the true killer to write out what all happened, and they would all memorize the details of the apartment and the crime scene, then confess, each and everyone of them.
Again, Harper is the holdout.
Upon reading the confession, one of the women would realize who the true killer was.
So no matter how much the investigating detectives try to trip up Walters or Barrie about such minimal details like drinking glasses or a bar of soap, they know the intimate facts, as tho they were there.
Weak in plot, the biggest upset to what all was going on comes from Harper. She is much more effective during her "confession" than all the spell-binding on what . . . . . really happened.
Not having seen Sophie's Choice by the time I watched this, the scene of one of the young girls (I think it was Swit's character, but she was played by a younger different actress, obviously) is trembling in the camp as the doctor is nearby. Truthfully, the young girls story would have been more interesting, I do believe, than the murder mystery.
In connecting ages, for the women to be young girls during the holocaust, say the early to mid-forties, Loretta Swit would be 8 at the end of the war, far too young for the girl in the flashback, Jessica Walter was 5 at the war's end, Barbara Barrie was 14, Sandy Dennis was 8 and Valerie Harper was 5.
Other than Barrie, I guess they were supposed to be older.
Hardly a grand mystery, that's for sure. No doubt it would be easy to solve. I didn't solve it, but I kept getting the feeling that what was going on clearly wasn't the way it was being shown.
Good for watching only once.
I think that some of the reviews are fair but also harsh in that one
has to keep in mind that this is an old TV made movie wherein back in
the mid 80's on TV no less they were limited to how much they could do
and show with families watching and it felt like it was more of a movie
for/about Women as if made for the Lifetime channel.
Youtube has two old TV ad Trailers for this movie showing all the actresses
I saw this movie as a teenager, mainly for Valerie Harper, I loved everything she did :) and I love character actresses, so this was a feast of talent for me to appreciate. Granted the story was a bit weak and the accents? not so good but I most certainly did get caught up in the emotional pain and suffering that they were reliving from their past and how it was wrecking their lives as adults, but as Women do, they drew strength and support from each other.
I think it also has historical value esp. if one's past relatives were survivors of the camps because the Nazi experiments on young Women, Jewish, Gypsy and on twins is not as well known still to a lot of people.
So if you are a TV fan of character actresses and or a Jewish person then I think that you will appreciate this TV made movie for what it is but don't judge it by today's standards.
OT actor Leonard Nimoy and Blythe Danner had also acted in a post Holocaust survivor TV made movie that was very good as well.
Survivors of a Nazi concentration camp discover the doctor who experimented on them in their youth, living nearby. The five women conspire to get their revenge, but the scheme to kill him is thrown together like their weekly mahjongg game. This leaves the remainder of the film unbelievably convoluted, with Lifetime Channel type marriage complications, and atrocious European accents. The entire movie sinks as the emotional subject is trivialized by the simplistic execution of their plan, followed by a conclusion of unbelievable coincidences. The only redeeming factors are a blue 55 Thunderbird driven buy Loretta Swit, and the presence of Michael Lerner, who, without a fake accent, comes across as the only genuine character in the entire film. - MERK
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
there is a lot wrong with this made for TV movie. the production
values, script and some of the performances can all be faulted. at
times it hovers uneasily between lurid pot-boiler and holocaust
memorial and yet....
i was curiously moved by the ending, which is rather forlorn.
by the end a sort of catharsis has been achieved, but the women seem in some ways diminished by their experience. whether this is because they have blood on their hands (albeit that of a monster), or the emotional toll it has taken is open to interpretation. but i liked the real feeling of sadness, and indeed loneliness, that they and we are left with. it was an unusually complex set of feelings that one rarely experiences at the end of a TV movie.
This is a rare movie for me, in that even a brain-dead klutz like me was always able to stay five minutes ahead of what was on the screen for pretty well the entire movie. The reasonably well-known names who starred in it were unable to make this more than a 'B' grade movie. It's a bit difficult to find drama let alone empathy when the whole thing is so predictable.
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