March 28, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

Crime of the Century

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Stephen Rea, Isabella Rossellini
genre
Drama

Before the O.J. Simpson circus came to town, the 1932 kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son was the big top of 20th-century celebrity crime trials. This HBO movie, directed by Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond), deals with the investigation into the murder of the aviator’s child, and humanizes Bruno Hauptmann (Rea), a German immigrant who, with his wife, Anna (Rossellini), sought a new life but found a nightmare when he was set up — according to the film — as the kidnapper. Rea and Rossellini’s strong work is matched by an effective supporting cast, including Michael Moriarty as a tortured politician. But Crime of the Century trips up when it stints on the reasons behind the pressure to find a killer, emphasizing instead Hauptmann’s personal travails. Rydell should have widened his scope to show how the public’s lust for justice can turn to a thirst for blood.

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