Dustcover art from Joan Barthel's Book, "A Death in Canaan," published by Dutton in 1976)Based on a true story, "A Death in Canaan" follows Powers, playing Barthel, as she tries to document the investigation of the 1973 case and the hands-on involvement of the townspeople, friends and neighbors of the solitary, fatherless Reillys. It was just Peter and his mother.
Powers plays Barthel with a perfect blend of neerve, insecurity and charm. Clemens, incidentally, is the son of veteran actress Eleanor Parker. Around the same time, he also appeared in another fine lost film, Jerome Hellman's "Promises in the Dark" (1979), starring Marsha Mason, Kathleen Beller, Ned Beatty, Susan Clark and Michael Brandon.
Profoundly moving, "A Death in Canaan" is enhanced by Richardson's subtle direction of an exceptional cast.
The movie, now very difficult to see, was originally made for a 150-minute time slot, including commercials. One of its most recent - and last - TV airings was more than five years ago on the Lifetime channel, which inexplicably edited it down for a 120-minute time period.