'Bed of Lies' hides issue of domestic violence behind black negligees and stockings

January 20, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

"Bed of Lies" has murder, money, Texas, guns, sex . . . and Susan Dey in the shortest skirts and tightest tops this side of Julie Brown's "Club MTV."

ABC is calling it an issue movie.

Don't you love the way network executives think?

Actually, there is an issue involved in the made-for-TV film, which airs at 9 tonight on WJZ-TV (Channel 13). And it's an important issue: domestic violence. Dey plays a woman repeatedly beaten by her husband until one night she picks up a gun and blows him away. But the movie is in no way a responsible depiction of the plight of battered women. It's about titillation -- Dey in bed in black negligee and silk stockings-- and lots of sex and violence.

Best known as Grace Van Owen in "L.A. Law," Dey plays way against type here as Vickie, a waitress at a Texas Dairy Queen. The film opens with Price Daniel Jr. (Chris Cooper), the son of a former Texas governor, putting the moves on her while she's at work.

The moves end in bed and then the altar, to make a long poor-girl-meets-rich-boy story short. But his new wife soon finds out that while Price has lots of money and connections, Price also has lots of head problems. He's an alcoholic, for one thing; for another, he tends to get violent and beat up on his wife.

Daniel's father convinces Vickie to stay with his son and keep the turmoil private: Price is running for attorney general, and the scandal would end any political hopes he has. Vickie does keep quiet, but one night she lets a .38 do the talking for her. There's a funeral, trial, lots of headlines and tears.

ABC is selling this as a true story: There really is a Price Daniel who was governor of Texas, etc. But this version of events is from Racehorse Haynes, the renown Texas trial attorney, who represented the real Vickie in her trial. An attorney for one of the parties is not exactly a dispassionate observer.

So, don't believe everything you see tonight really happened or what you are seeing really has anything to do with the social issue of domestic violence. "Bed of Lies" is a steamy story not without intrigue. But there is no lesson here deeper than this: It's a rocky road (to name just one flavor) from the Dairy Queen to the State House in Texas.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.