It was almost like a conspiracy. All day Sunday before the world premiere of Born Again the television treated us to previews of Disney’s The Shaggy D.A. The film showed Dean Jones climbing out of a dog house—not necessarily the best preparation for seeing Jones as Nixon’s former hatchet man, Charles Colson.
There is no reason, of course, why an actor cannot successfully move from light comedy parts to serious film work. Dean Jones is an accomplished performer and it may be that he will yet make that transition.
Please understand: Jones commits no disaster. There are no embarrassing moments of obvious incompetence. He knows how to move comfortably in front of a camera and how to deliver his lines naturally. Nevertheless, I confess that Jones failed to make me care about Charles Colson. I did care about Colson when I read the book, yet I was unable to identify with the Jones portrayal of him. I didn’t feel either the anxiety of his spiritual distress or the fear of his physical intimidation in prison.
(As you read this, please remember that I’m the unrepentant reviewer who was so embarrassed by Michael Moriarty’s flat performance in “Holocaust” that I mercifully refrained from mentioning it. He received an Emmy for it.)
However, Director Irving Rapper brings forth fine performances from a number of the cast members. Jay Robinson, an old pro in films, is superb as Colson’s Jewish law partner, David Shapiro. He has some of the best lines in the film and is thoroughly believable as a skeptical Washington lawyer. Robinson is convincingly confused but compassionate about Colson’s Christian conversion. Colson’s former political enemy and present Christian brother, Harold ...1
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