Here’s a new one for TV movies: husband-battering. The macho man who gets beat up by his wife and won’t talk about it because, as the title of this perversely compelling CBS pic says, “Men Don’t Tell.”
The drama is not, as viewers might wonder, based on a true story. Shrink John H. Chamberlain, PhD. is, however, credited as consultant and, no doubt intended to give credence to the story.
Ed MacAffrey (Peter Strauss) is a strapping, blue-collar guy in a hardhat who doesn’t take any crap at work and beats up a mugger who tries to hold him up. With his kids, he’s a softie. With his wife, Laura (Judith Light), he’s a good husband — just not good enough.
The first time she hits him is in the kisser. He tells everyone his wife punched him. They think he’s kidding. Then he says he tripped on a toy. That they believe.
The violence escalates in the usual way, only gender-bent.
Both are burdened with backstory. Laura’s nutbar mom (a creepy Carroll Baker) smacked her around. Ed’s mom always covered up when his dad (gravely James Gammon) got drunk and hit her.
Laura turned out aggressive, Ed passive. Until she pushes him over the edge. Strauss pulls this one out of a hat. He’s very sensitive.