THE TENTH MAN (TV MOVIE)
(director: Jack Gold; screenwriters: story by Graham Greene/Lee Langly/Geoffrey Kerr; cinematographer: Alan Hume; editor: Millie Moore; music: Lee Holdridge; cast: Anthony Hopkins (Chapel), Kristin Scott Thomas (Therese Mangeot), Timothy Watson (Michel Mangeot), Derek Jacobi (The Impostor), Peter Jonfield (Rouse), Paul Rogers (Breton), Cyril Cusack (The Priest), Brenda Bruce (Madame Mangeot), Brenda Bruce (Madame Mangeot); Runtime:99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Hill; Rosemont Productions (CBS); 1988-USA/UK)
“Glossy TV movie thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
TV director Jack Gold (“Red Monarch”/”Deadly Game”) solidly helms this glossy TV movie thriller based on the 1985 Graham Greene novel The Tenth Man. The screenplay is by Lee Langly and Geoffrey Kerr. The movie is set in occupied France 1941. While the wealthy withdrawn bachelor French lawyer Chavel (Anthony Hopkins) is in Paris on business, Nazi troopers round him up in a random sweep of the streets. The innocent prisoners are used by the Nazis to counter Resistance attacks, by killing the hostages. After a Nazi official is killed, the thirty prisoners choose in a lottery the three who will draw a slip of paper marked X to be executed. Chavel gets chosen and in a panic signs over his house and fortune to the laborer Michel Maugeot (Timothy Watson), who volunteers to take his place in order to give the fortune to his surviving family. Three years later, after the war, a disheveled Chavel is released and visits his former farm mansion in his small village that’s an hour from Paris. Living there are Michel’s embittered ailing elderly mom (Brenda Bruce) and his attractive feisty sister Therese (Kristin Scott), who yearns to kill Cheval for tempting her brother to die for money. Cheval passes himself off as a fellow inmate with her brother, and she hires him to stay on as a worker. But things change when an impostor with bad motives shows up (Derek Jacobi) and claims to be Cheval. He’s the disreputable son of Breton (Paul Rogers), one of the prisoner’s with Cheval. It’s soon learned the impostor is hunted for execution by the Resistance for being a collaborator. The title refers to Michel, who was the tenth man to draw lots for the execution. It seems improbable that no one in the village now recognizes Cheval, including the village priest (Cyril Cusack) and his Resistance leader next-door neighbor (Peter Jonfield). There were too many other improbable dramatics that weren’t satisfactorily answered, including why didn’t Cheval immediately report the dangerous impostor to the authorities. It was shown on TV as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special.
REVIEWED ON 8/13/2016 GRADE: B-