*/**** Image B Sound B Extras A
directed by Mark Bussler
THE PENNSYLVANIA MINERS' STORY
*½/**** Image B- Sound B
starring Graham Beckel, Michael Bowen, Tom Bower, Dylan Bruno
screenplay by Elwood Reid
directed by David Frankel
by Walter Chaw Richard Dreyfuss's voice is like a weasel rubbed against a blackboard: not entirely nasal (not entirely not), with a sort of lisping sneer that makes him a particularly bad match for narration work. It's not an axiom--but it should be--that lately the only thing worse than watching Dreyfuss in a film is listening to him; to the credit of peculiar direct-to-video documentary Johnstown Flood, though we have to listen to Dreyfuss narrate the piece, we don't have to watch him emote his way through it. The effect of having Dreyfuss go on about one of the most horrific dam-break tragedies in the United States is that his Napoleon-complex, constipated Snagglepuss wheeze ("Heaventh to Murgatroid!") lends the recreated bits of the documentary a tense sort of edge that it doesn't otherwise earn and feels slightly left of true, besides. Through it all, it's not Dreyfuss but the badly written and performed re-enactments that are the main problem with the piece, demonstrating by their weakness just how good The History Channel's stolid re-enactments actually are.