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Abc Monday Night at the Movies Ride with the Wind

Craig T. Nelson plays a washed-up rebel in this washed-out made-for.

Craig T. Nelson plays a washed-up rebel in this washed-out made-for.

A motorcycle racer with a tragic past — he lost his biggest race by smashing into his best friend’s bike — Frank Shelby (Nelson) has turned into a boozing drifter. He’s held on to his dream, however, and has decided to try again to win the nationals.

Meanwhile, he meets widow Katherine Barnes (Helen Shaver) and her leukemia-stricken son Danny. Danny’s courage in the face of his disease, in addition to other, murkier, motivations, inspires Shelby to go on to win.

Nelson, who looks authenti-cally beat up and out of shape, plays Shelby in a monosyllabic haze. While it’s understandable he’d fall for the classy Shaver (she wears suits and works in a bank), why she falls for him is not.

Shelby’s rapport with Danny is easier to fathom. Shelby becomes a father figure who shows Danny his tattoos, brings him girlie magazines and, after Danny tells him there’s something wrong with his blood, says, with a dumb look in his eyes, “Well, fix it.”

A cut above this is Tracey Walter as Shelby’s occasional friend Francis. His performance is textured with a bizarre richness that steals every scene he’s in. Max Gail, in the thankless role of Frank’s best friend, brings genuine warmth to the proceedings.

The teleplay by Harry Grant and Nelson is bland and full of holes. Direction by Bobby Roth and photography by Shelly Johnson are serviceable. Adding some needed flavor is Michel Rubini’s thoughtful score.

Abc Monday Night at the Movies Ride with the Wind

(Mon. (18), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

  • Production: Filmed at the Illinois State Fair Grounds, Ventura State Fair Grounds, Willow Springs Race Way and in Los Angeles, by Family Tree Prods. and Peter Frankovich Prods. Inc. in association with Hearst Entertainment. Executive producers, Peter Frankovich, Craig T. Nelson, Connie Tavel; co-executive producers, Harry Grant, Dale Rosenbloom; producer, Neil Rapp; co-producer, Paul Roman; director, Bobby Roth; writers, Grant, Nelson, from a story by Grant.
  • Crew: Camera, Shelly Johnson; editor, Henk Van Eeghen; production designer, Glenda Ganis; sound, Richard Lightstone; music, Michel Rubini.
  • Cast: Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Helen Shaver, Bradley Pierce, Max Gail, Tracy Walter, Henry G. Sanders, Travis McKenna, Steve Parlavecchio, Linda Dona, David Schickele, Doria Cook-Nelson, Gina Gallego, Stacey Nelkin, Macdonald Cook, Rhonda Roman, Autumn Winters, Dave Despain, Shannon Day.
  • Music By: