Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

TV REVIEWS : 'Stolen Babies': Title Belies Intelligent Work

March 25, 1993|JON MATSUMOTO

"Stolen Babies" (at 9 tonight on Lifetime cable, with repeats Saturday at 6 p.m. and March 30 and April 2 at 9 p.m.) comes wrapped in a less than imaginative, somewhat sensationalistic title. But there's little else that's mundane or tawdry about this intelligent and moving story about an idealistic young woman's attempt at exposing a corrupt adoption agency in Memphis during the 1940s.

Based on real events, "Stolen Babies" reveals how the agency's ruthless owner, Georgia Tann (Mary Tyler Moore), finagles babies away from poor Tennesseans in order to sell them to wealthy, out-of-town couples.

At first, newly arrived social worker Annie Beales (Lea Thompson) only sees Tann's veneer of respectability and humanitarianism. But when she begins to unearth the agency's illicit practices, Beales finds herself battling the imperious Tann as well as her high-placed political cronies.

Thompson plays Beales as a strong, courageous woman, yet the actress also touchingly illuminates the sense of compassion and social justice that fuels Beales' can-do spirit. One understands and admires her self-sacrificing ways and almost obsessive drive to help the children and parents who have fallen victim to Tann.

Tann is such a condescending and self-serving figure that it would have been easy for Moore to turn her into a caricature of evil. Fortunately, the veteran actress helps shape this aging and physically ailing woman into something more complicated: a rather insecure and self-deluded woman who actually believes she's doing a good deed by forcibly removing children from economically deprived families.

Occasionally, writer Sharon Elizabeth Doyle and director Eric Laneuville try a little too hard to make certain social-political points. But that's quibbling. Overall, "Stolen Babies" is a noble and very worthwhile piece of television.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|