7.9/10
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23 user 1 critic

Fatal Vision 

A retiree spends nine years relentlessly seeking to prove that his son-in-law, a former Green Beret Army doctor, murdered his pregnant wife and two children.
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1  
1984  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Karl Malden ...  Freddy Kassab 2 episodes, 1984
Eva Marie Saint ...  Mildred Kassab 2 episodes, 1984
Barry Newman ...  Bernie Segal 2 episodes, 1984
Gary Cole ...  Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, MD 2 episodes, 1984
Andy Griffith ...  Victor Worheide 2 episodes, 1984
Gary Grubbs ...  James Blackburn 2 episodes, 1984
Joel Polis ...  Brian Murtagh 2 episodes, 1984
Mitchell Ryan ...  Paul Strombaugh 2 episodes, 1984
Wendy Schaal ...  Colette MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
Scott Paulin ...  William Ivory 2 episodes, 1984
Barry Corbin ...  Franz Grebner 2 episodes, 1984
Albert Salmi ...  Judge Dupree 2 episodes, 1984
Alexandra Johnson Alexandra Johnson ...  Helena Stoeckley 2 episodes, 1984
Paddi Edwards ...  Mrs. Perry MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
Frank Dent Frank Dent ...  Joe McGinniss 2 episodes, 1984
Carmen Argenziano ...  Col Pruett 2 episodes, 1984
Andy Wood Andy Wood ...  Robert Shaw 2 episodes, 1984
Dennis Redfield ...  Peter Kearns 2 episodes, 1984
Joe Mays ...  William Posey 2 episodes, 1984
Rex Ryon Rex Ryon ...  Jay MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
J.P. Bumstead J.P. Bumstead ...  Col. Rock 2 episodes, 1984
Brandy Gold Brandy Gold ...  Kimberly age 5 2 episodes, 1984
Dylan Galer Dylan Galer ...  Kristen 2 episodes, 1984
Lance Rosen ...  Dennis Eisman 2 episodes, 1984
Patricia Duff ...  Joy 2 episodes, 1984
Nadine Van der Velde ...  Randi 2 episodes, 1984
Laurence Haddon Laurence Haddon ...  Gen. Flanagan 2 episodes, 1984
Jack Rader ...  Provost Marshal 2 episodes, 1984
Kenneth Tigar ...  Pathologist 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Morsell Fred Morsell ...  Agent 2 episodes, 1984
Roy London Roy London ...  Dr. Thornton 2 episodes, 1984
Ken Hill Ken Hill ...  Neighbor 2 episodes, 1984
Eugene Butler ...  Capt. Somers 2 episodes, 1984
Judith Barsi ...  Kimberly age 3 2 episodes, 1984
Anne Betancourt ...  St. Mary's Sister 2 episodes, 1984
Scotch Byerley Scotch Byerley ...  Lab Tech 2 episodes, 1984
Kathy Christopher Kathy Christopher ...  Hippie Girl 2 episodes, 1984
Robert Clotworthy ...  MP Sergeant 2 episodes, 1984
Hortensia Colorado Hortensia Colorado ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
Kathleen Coyne ...  1st Witness 2 episodes, 1984
David Dangler David Dangler ...  MP Lieutenant 2 episodes, 1984
Matthew Faison Matthew Faison ...  Dr. Bronstein 2 episodes, 1984
Norman Alexander Gibbs Norman Alexander Gibbs ...  News Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Howard Goodwin Howard Goodwin ...  Party Announcer 2 episodes, 1984
Lance Gordon ...  CID Captain 2 episodes, 1984
Norman Lee Harris Norman Lee Harris ...  CID Man 2 episodes, 1984
Billy James Billy James ...  TV Interviewer 2 episodes, 1984
Steve James ...  U.S. Marshal 2 episodes, 1984
Allan Kolman ...  Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Richard Lineback ...  MP Captain 2 episodes, 1984
Tracee Lyles Tracee Lyles ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
James Morrison ...  Green Beret 2 episodes, 1984
Clare Torao ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Ponzlov Fred Ponzlov ...  Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Retes Fred Retes ...  Photographer 2 episodes, 1984
John Rose John Rose ...  FBI Man 2 episodes, 1984
Paul Ryan Paul Ryan ...  Talk Show Host 2 episodes, 1984
Miguel Sandoval ...  MP in Jeep 2 episodes, 1984
Grayce Spence Grayce Spence ...  Court Clerk 2 episodes, 1984
Tom Tarpey Tom Tarpey ...  Psychiatrist 2 episodes, 1984
Brian Thompson ...  Lt. Harrison 2 episodes, 1984
Arnold F. Turner Arnold F. Turner ...  Lab Technician 2 episodes, 1984
Beth Ringwald Beth Ringwald ...  Babysitter 2 episodes, 1984
Wesley Thompson ...  Sgt. McPherson 2 episodes, 1984
Bill Vint Bill Vint ...  Dr. Sadoff 2 episodes, 1984
Justine Visone ...  Secretary 2 episodes, 1984
Peter Vogt Peter Vogt ...  Jury Foreman 2 episodes, 1984
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Storyline

In 1970, military doctor Jeffrey McDonald reports a hideous and confusing story: A gang of hippies akin to the Manson Family broke into his North Carolina home and slaughtered his wife and two daughters, while somehow only wounding him slightly as he tried to fight them off. As McDonald continues to proclaim his innocence, his skeptical father-in-law Freddy Kassab and investigative journalist Joe McGinniss probe his story to uncover the truth. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Död i dimma dold See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As of January 2012, Jeffrey MacDonald is incarcerated in Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland, Maryland. He married Kathryn Kurichh in 2002. In 2005, MacDonald applied for parole, but his application was denied. MacDonald continues to insist that he is innocent. He will not be eligible to apply for parole again until 2020. See more »

Connections

References Easy Rider (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Well acted, well written, and a product of its time...
8 December 2012 | by calvinnmeSee all my reviews

... that time being 1984. It's been at least ten years -maybe 15 - since I've seen this film on TV. Channels are too busy broadcasting commercials for shamwows and anything else of questionable value that will fit in a paid programming slot to air good old made-for-TV fare like this anymore, so forgive any holes in my review that may be caused by my memory.

By 1984 the pendulum had swung in society and thus in the justice system from slapping embarrassingly guilty criminals on the wrist (circa 1960-1980) to locking them up for mandatory sentences - the era of zero tolerance had arrived. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it also swept up lots of people who weren't necessarily guilty at a time when DNA forensics were not in existence that could validate a verdict. This transitional phase in American justice is the setting of the film (1970-1979), and ironically the pendulum swung precisely because of the emergence of the kind of people - often violent drug addled hippies - that Jeffrey MacDonald claimed entered his home one night and changed his life forever.

The two great performances here are Karl Malden as Freddy Kassab and Gary Cole as Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. One night in 1970, when MacDonald was still a captain and surgeon in the army, someone kills MacDonald's entire family in their home as they all sleep in their beds - his wife, their unborn child, and his two daughters. However, Jeffrey MacDonald has only superficial wounds and survives. He is instantly suspect number one as far as the military is concerned, and at first father-in-law Freddy Kassab is on his side. An investigation is launched, and eventually the military drops the case for lack of evidence. After MacDonald appears on Dick Cavett and seems to joke around about the murder and the ordeal, Freddy begins to have a change of heart and becomes convinced of MacDonald's guilt.

It doesn't help Freddy that he seems to be a black-or-white all-or-nothing kind of thinker and renderer of snap judgments. It doesn't help MacDonald that he is a bit of a narcissist who seems to really be enjoying his new-found bachelorhood and that he was less than a saint when he was married to Freddy's daughter - he did cheat, and he did use mood altering prescription drugs to deal with his grueling schedule while in the army.

Then both men have to deal with what is really the luck of the draw in any criminal or civil case for that matter - how good is the attorney on your case, and how good is he in particular on the day(s) that he is in front of a jury on your individual case. Of course, Freddy doesn't really have an attorney, but the hard-charging D.A. that decides to go after MacDonald (Andy Griffith as take-no-prisoners Victor Worheide) dies before much progress can be made. Who takes his place? A seemingly mild-mannered southern gentleman (Gary Grubbs as James Blackburn). Freddy, a New Yorker, thinks this guy is just too bland to go after his son-in-law with the necessary vigor and considers drastic action. Meanwhile, Jeffrey MacDonald, now a wealthy doctor, having hired the best counsel, is planning TV appearances, getting manicures, and putting people who were originally on his side ill at ease with his carefree disposition.

How does this all play out? Well, google will give you a better and more complete answer than I ever could, but watching this drama play out on screen is worth your while, even if the film is obviously biased against MacDonald.

There is one scene that is a real eye-roller - I don't know if it actually happened but it lets you know that even in 1984 Hollywood thought gun control would work. Kassab is confiding to his wife that if Jeffrey gets off this time - the 1979 trial - he is considering taking justice into his own hands...by getting a gun permit??? If this film has taught us anything is that murderers don't knock and they certainly aren't stopped by gun permit paperwork.

This is a long one at 200 minutes, but worth your time. It may never be on TV again because to air it they'd also have to air a bunch of disclaimers, particularly about some of the prosecutors in the case, several of whom turned out to be less than of the purest motives and ethics themselves. But don't be too hard on them, after all prosecutors ARE actually lawyers. What would you expect? Highly recommended.


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