An impressive cast weigh in for this HBO period drama, a re-creation of the Lindbergh kidnap case based on Ludovic Kennedy's The Airman and the Carpenter. Richard Hauptmann (Rea) was picked up with marked ransom notes and charged with the murder of the famous aviator's baby. America was baying for blood, and Hauptmann, a German immigrant, fitted the bill. The limited budget makes for so-so production work and competent, but severely constrained direction by old pro Mark Rydell. The upside is an eloquent, thoughtful screenplay by William Nicholson and some juicy character acting by the likes of Harkins (as an alcoholic defence lawyer), Moriarty (the concerned local Governor), Paymer (the prosecuting attorney) and Walsh (the police chief). It takes a while to get used to Rea talking with an aksent lak dis, but he comes through with a couple of burning speeches.
Cast and crew