”I can only meet a man at the level of his intentions,” says Farrah Fawcett while playing Dalva Northridge, and so we should probably judge the TV movie Dalva on the same terms. Dalva is based on a novella by Jim Harrison, the burly faux-Hemingway who also wrote Legends of the Fall — no man is too tough, no woman too wild who cannot be tamed by pumped-up prose.
Harrison’s Dalva is a woman haunted by her past: Back in the ’60s, while still a teenage Nebraska girl, she got pregnant by her Lakota Indian boyfriend and gave her child up for adoption. Once grown, Dalva sets out to find her now-20-year-old son, but not before doing a whole lotta livin’. Director Ken Cameron (The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All) and writer Judith Paige Mitchell (the TV series John Grisham’s The Client) are faithful adapters; they treat Fawcett the way Harrison treats Dalva — as hubba-hubba with hubris.
Bouncing on horses in a succession of tight white T-shirts, Fawcett swings her own blond mane and uses her sexily scratchy vocal cords to spout epigrammatic stuff about men’s intentions. And Dalva dutifully listens to similar guff from men: Her grandfather, played by Rod Steiger (”Each of us must live with a full measure of loneliness”), a loopy history professor, played by Peter Coyote (”When you make love to me it moves me deeply, Dalva”), and Powers Boothe’s hard-boiled, laconic pilot (”Unngghh!”) are the guys who, at different times in her life, remove Dalva’s T-shirt and reveal their intentions. D+