31 January 2005 | rsoonsa
Casting Is Given More ImportanceThanThe Content.
Loosely based upon the appalling Kitty Genovese murder in 1964, wherein young Kitty was slain in front of her Queens apartment building as 38 onlookers refused involvement, this made for television movie, originally a back door pilot for ABC that failed to achieve high enough ratings deemed necessary for further production, shifts the action to Brooklyn and lowers the crime witness count to 15, a more manageable number for a film in which primary emphasis is placed upon casting of "guest stars" in lieu of attempting a measured approach into socio-cultural connotations of the tragedy. Originally titled HOMICIDE, and a year later THE WOMAN WHO CRIED MURDER for its second television showing, this work was heavily publicized but its meretricious courting of an audience ratings advantage brought negative reaction from most viewers, especially those still mindful of the original dreadful crime, and it quickly disappeared from distribution lists, effectively excising an initial top billing appearance for Raul Julia, as a New York City homicide detective. From among the celebrity packed cast emerge noteworthy cameo performances, including those of Art Carney, Tina Louise, Cloris Leachman, and Lucie Arnaz who chose a plot climactic role rather than one offered her that involved more screen time, and there is a polished turn from 12 year old Helen Hunt, as well as a poor one from Diahann Carroll, with solid acting from Julia and, as his detective partner, John P. Ryan. Breezily generic dialogue is composed for the detectives in a script that is full of bromides, as is the jazz-flavoured score. The film is capably directed, but the shade of Kitty Genovese trivializes this effort, baring its failure to explore a crucial event in modern U.S. urban history.