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Alec Baldwin underplays his role in TNT's "Nuremberg"

Evil On Trial

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Acting is all about choices. And Alec Baldwin made a fundamentally bad choice when he elected to underplay his character in TNT's "Nuremberg." He may never have the chance to soar so high again.

Baldwin plays U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who was appointed to be the lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials after World War II. Twenty-one members of the Nazi high command, including Herman Goering, were called to account. The four-hour made-for-TV movie, based on Joseph Persico's book "Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial," debuted Sunday, July 16, and repeats this Friday, July 21, and next Wednesday, July 26, at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, July 29, at noon.

Baldwin's underplaying aside, the movie graphically makes a few fundamental points: If civilized people can do what the Germans did in World War II, civilization must be overrated. And evil is the absence of empathy.

The messages will never be so clear as they are in one unforgettable and seemingly endless scene in which authentic archival film is played in the Nuremberg courtroom. As images of Mauthausen, Dachau and Nordhausen concentration camps unfold, as corpses are seen in crematoria, as the full horror of the Nazi evil is revealed, there is no music, no dialogue — nothing except the sound of courtroom spectators sobbing.

However, Stanley Kramer's 1961 fictionalized version of the trials, "Judgment at Nuremberg," is a far better film. Baldwin can't hold a candle to its star, Spencer

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