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'Beware': Not Quite Ready For Human Consumption

September 22, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

The aspirations behind "Lady Beware" (citywide)--a tale of psychological and physical molestation--are unquestionably earnest, heartfelt and serious. At the same time, what's presented on screen is as vile and tasteless as everything the film makers purport to disdain.

The story concerns a young window dresser named Katya Yarno (Diane Lane) who lands the plum job of designing the merchandise windows of Horne's, a venerable Pittsburgh department store. Katya's purposefully erotic creations are an immediate sensation, eliciting heated debates, attracting media attention and boosting sales. They also provide her with an unwanted admirer, a lab technician who can see her displays from across the street.

Beginning with vaguely threatening telephone calls, the attentions of Jack (Michael Woods) escalate with his increasingly lurid communications and break-in of her apartment. She's so distraught by his intrusion that she can neither work nor associate with former friends. But then she decides to fight back.

The script by Susan Miller and Charles Zev Cohen cannot withstand the niceties of logic. It's readily apparent that the calls and insinuations are more than pranks, yet Katya is slow to involve the police. At that late date, the boys in blue neglect to insert a wiretap and make no mention of even modest surveillance. Her co-workers and boyfriend, who ought to be most concerned, seem incapable of getting her to accept their help in this time of emotional crisis.

Still, such lapses almost seem trivial when compared to the terrible toll wreaked upon the story by the worst type of pop psychology. Are we to believe that the young woman is designing her own victimization by means of her career pursuit? And is the perpetrator himself the victim of his fate as a result of a menial job and unhappy marriage?

Director Karen Arthur has gone on record disowning the producer's cut of this film and it's questionable any version of the story would be artistically valid.

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