YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

TV REVIEWS : Hepburn, Quinn as Film Legends in 'Love'

March 12, 1994|RAY LOYND

Not even Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn can salvage the ordinary and predictable light romantic drama "This Can't Be Love" but, then, the script is really irrelevant.

This is Hepburn and Quinn. Step back. Make room for big faces.

She's still hard to resist, and he manages to negotiate (narrowly) what is a cajoling, down-on-his-luck, out-of-character role. What makes this story about the wrenching reunion of two aging movie stars and lovers who broke up 50 years earlier so watchable is Hepburn and Quinn's beguiling ability to poke droll fun at their very own Hollywood legends and egos.

It's all sufficiently nostalgic to turn the small screen almost back to silver.

Hepburn, who, amazingly enough, was born in 1907, during Teddy Roosevelt's second Administration (eight years before Quinn), made a better TV movie 20 years ago about the same thing, an aging actress falling for an old beau ("Love Among the Ruins," co-starring Laurence Olivier). What distinguishes this production (directed by Anthony Harvey from a script by co-producer Duane Poole) is the ironic, often sardonic light it casts on the stars' real-life careers.

Hepburn and Quinn, although playing renowned, fictitious has-beens, are indulging a kind of inventive, self-revealing biographical movie here.

Under the credits, the movie opens up with 10 great black-and-white movie stills of vintage Hepburn, and later Hepburn's character reminisces how she never actually sat through all her own movies because "it's much too painful watching oneself fade away on celluloid."

Scanning a coffee-table movie book with her devoted, young, live-in chauffeur (the sweetly affable Jason Bateman), she comes to a portrait of real-life Hepburn director George Cukor and casually remarks that "he used very shrewdly what I had to offer."

She flips the page and there is a darkly handsome, brooding Anthony Quinn in his early Hollywood days, standing in jolting contrast to his movie persona's struggling, out-of-pocket former action-adventure star. Will passion rekindle when they are reunited?

In Hepburn's glory days, Hollywood made movies like this all the time.

* "This Can't Be Love" airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBS (Channels 2 and 8).

Los Angeles Times Articles