Sutherland keeps 'Quicksand' from sinking


March 04, 1992|By Steve McKerrow

Correction: A photograph was misidentified in yesterday's review of the HBO series "Def Comedy Jam." The pictured performer was Martin Lawrence, host of the show which premieres at midnight tonight on the premium cable service.


Remember the final scene of the 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," when Donald Sutherland turns and points at the camera, making a weird noise? You will be reminded of it constantly in "Quicksand: No Escape," a new thriller premiering tonight on cable.

Mr. Sutherland, all slicked-back hair and menacing eyeballs, stars (at 9 o'clock on basic cable's USA Network) as a cheerfully corrupt private eye who sinks his blackmail hooks into an innocent architect (Tim Matheson).


Although hardly a great film, with the same plug-in-the-plot feel of many original USA ventures, the movie tingles whenever Sutherland appears in a scene, reveling in his character's sleaze.

One wonders if the actor's future leans toward one of those mesmerizing villainous character actors, such as Jack Palance or Lee Van Cleef.

For the record, the busy plot presents Mr. Matheson as a hard-working architect whose partner has secretly bribed a county commissioner for a municipal contract. A corrupt cop who tries to squeeze into the action is murdered, and all clues point toward family man Mr. Matheson.

Enter Mr. Sutherland, who wants $100,000 to keep things quiet. And when Mr. Matheson can't produce, the blackmailer seeks "services in lieu of payment." Oh, and all of this happens with pressure from a wife (Felicity Huffman) who fears the architect is having an affair.

You may not believe a minute of it, but Mr. Sutherland's zest for

his role makes the movie reasonably diverting.



* Last month, the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communications began live telecasts of City Council hearings on Wednesdays, seen on the city-operated Channel 44 on the United Artists Cable system.

Today's session at 5 p.m. (with repeats at 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. tomorrow) could be lively. The subject is a budget hearing on Enoch Pratt Free Library, which may have to close some branches because of financial problems.

* Time warp! Skater Paul Wylie was a surprise silver medalist at the Olympic Winter Games last month. Before he left for Albertville, he was among the skaters who taped "An Evening of Championship Skating" in Boston, which can be seen at 8 tonight on Maryland Public Television. Legendary pairs skaters Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov also skate.

* Did the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated sell out at your newsstand on delivery yesterday? At 10 tonight, HBO offers a one-hour special, "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit '92," on the making of the periodical's annual parade of pulchritude.

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