Television Reviews : ‘Stranger on My Land’

Hollywood’s movie-makers often are tagged as liberals. “Libertarians” might be a more accurate description. Take “Stranger on My Land” (Sunday at 9 p.m., Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42).

It’s the story of a rancher (Tommy Lee Jones) who fights the expansion of a missile base onto his land. The script exalts some traditional right-wing values, such as property rights and the right to bear arms to defend that property.

Yet it also mollifies liberals by questioning the necessity for an expanded missile base--and by setting up the rancher as a Vietnam veteran who disapproved of the way his unit expropriated land from Vietnamese villagers.

There is no ambiguity, though, about the central libertarian message: The government is bad. And there is very little ambiguity about how that message is conveyed.


The government’s chief hit man is a local boy-turned-first-class snake (Terry O’Quinn), who appears to exist for the sole purpose of tormenting our hero. The judge to whom the rancher turns for help is an unfeeling yuppie--he wears glasses with designer frames, eats in restaurants with atriums and insists that “the law (of eminent domain) is the law.”

But though wife (Dee Wallace Stone) and children waver, the rancher never has a moment of doubt. He and his father (Ben Johnson) growl one cliche after another about the sanctity of their cause, and then they take up an arsenal in its defense, assisted by a ever-so-multiracial band of men (including a faithful Indian companion and an Asian) who think nothing of defying the law and risking their own lives for this man’s obsession.

Rambo would be proud.

It looks as if Edward Hume (“The Day After”), who cooked up the story and co-wrote the script (with I. C. Rappaport), set out to prove that anti-nuke activists are not wimps. We get the point, but we don’t get a very good movie.

Larry Elikann directed.