Ripped from yesterday’s tabloid programs, this TV movie is the first of two within a month purporting to tell the tale of Carolyn Warmus, suburban New York schoolteacher convicted May 27 for killing her lover’s wife. CBS-TV version, “Danger of Love,” airs Oct. 4. ABC’s rush to get this one on the air is indicated by the shaky script and thesping’s nothing to program the VCR for, either.
Virginia Madsen plays Warmus, a bleached-blond Westchester County computer science teacher who (here at least) looks and dresses like a second-string Madonna with a closetful of fantasy role-playing outfits, and who has the hots for married gym teacher Paul Solomon (Chris Sarandon).
Solomon’s devoted brunette wife (Lenore Kasdorf) is killed within the film’s first few moments; audience never sees whodunnit.
Cops’ eyes are on Solomon, though Warmus’s continued pestering of Solomon, who’s dumped her, convinces officers to apply a little more detective work.
Life isn’t always as interesting as television and writers’ following facts of the case may be what makes this case less of a puzzler than the average “Murder, She Wrote.” That doesn’t explain the often-cliched dialogue, though, or the shallowness of virtually every character.
Ned Eisenberg and Tom Mason deliver best as a pair of weary cops, and Johnny Williams and Steven Marcus aren’t bad as a couple of oily gumshoes.
Madsen is pretty one-dimensional until her big breakdown scene at the end, where she gains another half-dimension. Sarandon looks good lifting weights, but his acting couldn’t be more wooden if he’d taken the title role in “Picket Fences.” (Joe Penny plays the role in CBS’s “Danger of Love,” with Jenny Robertson as Warmus and a supporting cast including Joe Mantegna and Richard Lewis.)
Peter Haskell, unbilled, appears briefly as Warmus’s well-to-do father. Even though there’s some implication that all of Warmus’ problems stem from his ignoring her as a child, it must have been (though it’s never said) Dad–and not the Westchester County public school system–who financed her nice apartment and bail bond.
After hearing some damaging testimony, defendant Warmus rises from her seat in the court and, improbably, strides briskly from the room without causing a ripple; it isn’t until she comes back that the judge (Herb Mitchell) sternly reprimands her.
Wiltern Theater and Beverly Hills Hotel make cameo appearances as New York and Puerto Rican locations.