Review: ‘Daniel’

Faithfully adapted by E.L. Doctorow from his own acclaimed novel, The Book of Daniel and directed by Sidney Lumet with his customary intensity, Daniel is nonetheless a curiously detached filmization of the highly charged book.

Faithfully adapted by E.L. Doctorow from his own acclaimed novel, The Book of Daniel and directed by Sidney Lumet with his customary intensity, Daniel is nonetheless a curiously detached filmization of the highly charged book.

It’s generally well acted and occasionally evokes the sense of tragedy surrounding the effect of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s trial and eventual execution as Russian atom spies.

Taking its form from the novel, the film flashes back and forth in time between 1967 – as Daniel Isaacson (Timothy Hutton) an aloof, uncommitted grad student is prodded by the near-suicide of his activist sister (Amanda Plummer) into probing the events behind his parents’ execution – and the period of his parents’ last years from the 1930s to 1953.

Most effective portions of the film are those chronicling the parents (Lindsay Crouse in a staggeringly subtle performance as Daniel’s mother, Mandy Patinkin superb as his father).

Daniel

Production

World Film Services. Director Sidney Lumet; Producer Burtt Harris; Screenplay E.L. Doctorow; Camera Andrzej Bartkowiak; Editor Peter C. Frank; Art Director Philip Rosenberg

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 129 MIN.

With

Timothy Hutton Mandy Patinkin Lindsay Crouse Ed Asner Ellen Barkin Julie Bovasso
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