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Tv Review : An Empty Tale Of Family Victory In 'Triumph'

January 07, 1986|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

"Whatever comes along," says Concetta Hassan, "you deal with it, right? As best you can."

So when Hassan's husband is incapacitated by a stroke, the 32-year-old housewife and mother of three resolves to join the Army. Her husband can't believe she's serious: "You don't even like war movies!" he protests. "I'm serious about doing whatever it takes to keep this family going," she insists.

That's the basic plot of "A Time to Triumph," a TV movie airing at 9 tonight on Channels 2 and 8. Based on a true story, it's an innocuous rendering of the events that transformed the lives of Hassan and her family. Patty Duke plays Hassan and Joseph Bologna portrays her husband, Chuck.

The film is more chronology than drama. It sets up little crises-of-the-moment in one scene and resolves them in the next, all the while refusing to delve beneath the surface and show us any of the personal trauma and wrenching adjustments that surely must have confronted this couple as they struggled to keep their relationship intact despite a total reversal in their roles as breadwinner and homemaker.

Instead, Hassan appears to give up mothering entirely, at no expense either to her or the children, while Chuck makes the transition from construction worker to househusband without a problem more serious than learning how to operate a washing machine.

Life is a bit tougher than that. And a lot more interesting. The film makers should have addressed questions of a more substantive nature than whether Hassan makes it through boot camp and, later, whether she earns her pilot's wings. Then their "Triumph" wouldn't have been so empty.

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