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The San Francisco Chronicle
Review of Varian's War by John Carman, TV Columnist
A
pril 20, 2001

Rating:SNOOZING VIEWER[Snoozing Viewer]
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 Co.


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