March 25, 1985 12:00 PM

HBO (Sunday, March 24, 8 p.m. ET)

HBO, it seems, has a thing about Communists and Nazis, with two recent movies about the former (the earnest Sakharov and the dreadful Gulag) and two about the latter (the weird The Cold Room and the even stranger The Blood of Others). So here’s another Nazi movie. It’s no work of genius, but it does stand above the rest. Though their names were changed in the movie, Forbidden is based on the true story—told in the 1982 book The Last Jews in Berlin—of Countess Maria von Maltzen and Hans Hirschel, the Jewish scholar she loved and hid from Hitler. Jacqueline Bisset plays the proper but down-to-earth countess with her usual grace. And Jurgen (Dune) Prochnow, the captain in Das Boot, is equally refined as her mate in hiding. Unfortunately they’re too graceful and refined for lovers in constant and terrifying danger. Their love story lacks oomph. And so does most of the movie. In one scene Prochnow is chased by a Jew who turns in Jews; his near escape from capture and the concentration camps should have been frightening enough to bring sweat to your palms. But the scene fizzles. Prochnow escapes, but you don’t know how. The movie makes up for lost tension at the end; it is truly gripping. If only the rest could have been more like the last 15 minutes.

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