Cinema: Crisis of Character

A Covenant with Death. Some people think character is an old-fashioned word. In this seemingly modest melodrama, Director Lament Johnson ambitiously attempts to bring the word up to date—to say what is wrong with an all-too-average American male, and what he has to do to make himself a man.

The man in the making is a small-town lawyer (George Maharis) who at 29 is appointed to the bench. He has the training but he lacks the character for the job. He still lives at home with a matriarchal mother (Katy Jurado) and keeps company with a girl friend (Laura Devon) who seems...

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