Sunday's Showtime movie "Varian's War" is based, however loosely, on
the true story of Varian Fry, a wealthy American who went to Vichy, France,
during World War II and rescued 2,000 artists, writers and intellectuals from
Nazi persecution. One was the artist Marc Chagall.
For his efforts, Fry, who died in 1967, is scarcely remembered today as
"the American Schindler."
William Hurt coughs up another curiously phlegmatic performance as Fry. Julia
Ormand plays an American who helps him in Marseilles. Alan Arkin appears
briefly as a forger who supplies the phony passports, and Lynn Redgrave is
Alma Werfel, the wife of novelist Franz Werfel.
Produced by Barbra Streisand, the movie offers a stock assortment of Nazi
villains -- not that we're expecting Nazi heroes -- French collaborators and
bureaucratic American foot-draggers.
There's some derring-do, but little palpable suspense. It's on a par with
broadcast network movies and modestly entertaining, at best.
© 2001, The Chronicle Publishing
[Varian Fry Institute]
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June 25, 2006