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December 14, 1986|HOWARD ROSENBERG

"PROMISE," 9-11 p.m. Sunday (2)(8) (Illustrated on cover)--What a sweet, tender, deeply affecting story this CBS "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production is.

The promise refers to a vow Bob (James Garner) made to his mother when he was 21 that he would always look after his emotionally disturbed younger brother D. J. (James Woods). The vow comes back to haunt him, though, when the old woman dies many years later and Bob is faced with the depressing prospect of caring for "a crazy man who I haven't seen more than 10 times in the last 30 years."

Written by Richard Friedenberg and directed by Glenn Jordan, "Promise" features actors who don't seem to be acting--Garner and Woods as the two brothers and Piper Laurie sparkling in a supporting role as Bob's old flame.

The unlikely pairing of Garner and Woods produces some memorable scenes, as the two brothers slowly and painfully manage to narrow the distance between them.

Continuing to grow as an actor, Garner turns out another layered performance as a man who has spent his indulgent life seeking pleasure and avoiding involvement with his schizophrenic brother.

Woods confirms his reputation as one of America's finest, most versatile actors, playing a fleetingly lucid man/child trapped by his hallucinations and subjected to moods ranging from dejection to euphoria in a world bordering on madness. Woods is just exceptional.

"Do you remember , Bobby?," D. J. asks his brother about their normal childhood together before D. J.'s torment began. "Do you remember me?"

You will remember "Promise."

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