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Usa World Premiere Network a Case for Murder

Pablo F. Fenjves and Duncan Gibbins have written a lucid, involving mystery drama best described as neat. As director, Gibbins guides the fortunes of ambitious, self-promoting defense attorney Jack Hemmett with as sure a hand as Hemmett seems to have.

Pablo F. Fenjves and Duncan Gibbins have written a lucid, involving mystery drama best described as neat. As director, Gibbins guides the fortunes of ambitious, self-promoting defense attorney Jack Hemmett with as sure a hand as Hemmett seems to have.

Hemmett, played right on the mark by Peter Berg, is a rising star in the Chicago law firm when a new lawyer, sharpie Kate Weldon (Jennifer Grey), joins the staff. Enigmatic Hemmett, not too mysteriously grabbing a top murder case from another firm lawyer, drops his current sidekick in favor of Weldon; he knows a good thing when he sees her.

The accused, Joanna Gaines (Belinda Bauer), widow of one of the firm’s mouthpieces, had no alibi, a drunken blankout on where she was and what she was doing, and a cut forehead; that’s all Hemmett has to work on. His hot-dog demonstration in court of how Joanna’s earring ended up in the dead man’s fist is a kick, and tracing Hemmett’s other fast-stepping methods is an eyeful.

Best part of the vidpic is Berg’s delineation of the complex Hemmett. He’s a put-on from the beginning, but he seems to have a soft center; finding the core is the challenge. Grey’s Weldon grows perceptibly in her role as she takes measure of Hemmett, falls into bed with him, and considers an anonymous warning about his dark past.

Casting among secondary characters is equally felicitous. Bauer makes Joanna a refined mystery lady, and Samantha Eggar shows class as the boss’s one-time office romance. Rosemary Forsyth as the judge, Robert Do Qui as the cop in charge, Stephen Rowe as a surprise witness are all top notch.

Michael S. Murphey’s production looks fine, with production designer Jo-Ann Chorney’s approximation of Chicago (it’s really L.A.) good, her interiors convincing. Anthony B. Richmond’s camera work is superior, as is Caroline Biggerstaff’s editing.

Randy Miller’s music is another plus.

Usa World Premiere Network a Case for Murder

(Wed. (19), 9-11 p.m., USA)

  • Production: Filmed in L.A. by Bodega Bay Prods. and MTE. Exec producers, Richard Gitelson , Eric Freiser; producer, Michael S. Murphey; director, Duncan Gibbins; writers, Pablo F. Fenjves, Gibbins; story, Fenjves.
  • Crew: Camera, Anthony B. Richmond; editor, Caroline Biggerstaff; production designer, Jo-Ann Chorney; art director, Timothy Smithwick Stepeck; sound, Stacy Brownrigg; music, Randy Miller.
  • Cast: Cast: Jennifer Grey, Peter Berg, Belinda Bauer, Eugene Roche, Samantha Eggar, Justine Arlin, David Hayward, Thomas Kopache, Rosemary Forsyth, Lynne Marta, Robert Do Qui, Bruce French, Michael Ryan Way, Dick Welsbacher, Nancy McLoughlin , Allison Chase, Stephen Rowe, Mark Phelan, Sally Anne Allen, Susan Lee Hoffman, Gene Teddy Whittingham, Dean Orion, Robert Rigamonti, Ramesh Pandey, Kathie Mazur, Lennie Citrano, Linda Dishayne, Bob Yerkes.