'Eyes of a Witness' is a tired tale seen too often

March 29, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

"Eyes of a Witness" features the newest techniques in genetic coding and an up-to-date plot about poachers in Africa.

But this made-for-TV movie, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on WBAL-TV (Channel 11), is as old-fashioned as movies get. It's riddled with cliches you've seen 100 times on the late movie.

Daniel Travanti plays the ugly American role, a filthy rich industrialist who travels to Kenya to convince his daughter to return home.

The daughter, played by Jennifer Grey ("Dirty Dancing"), is devoted to finding a cure for sleeping sickness. And, she reveres the people and culture of Kenya.

Travanti's role is one of the most overwritten ever to appear outside a Saturday morning cartoon. He practically foams at the mouth at her talk of duty and love for Kenyans.

Before you can say Audrey Hepburn in "The Nun's Story," poachers attack a group which has collected a herd of wildebeest for the young doctor. And guess who is caught in the cross-fire and mistakenly arrested for murder?

Yup. The ugly American, who must now seek the help of the very people he once thought so little of.

Will the American businessman come to respect the ways of others? Will he respect his daughter's research? Can the daughter and her fiance save her father from the gallows?

Can CBS really put this on the air Sunday night with a straight face?

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