The twist: Strauss’s character, construction executive Ed MacAffrey, was abused by his wife Laura, played by Light.
“The most sobering point about ‘Men Don’t Tell’ is that we go into the story conditioned to make jokes about wives hurling rolling pins at their husbands and then starkly witness how unfunny and terrifying it really is,” the Los Angeles Times’ Ray Loynd wrote.
Light’s vicious, insecure wife is a harrowing portrait, although ultimately, to the actress's credit, touched with sympathy. Her bleak image in the movie’s last scene is shattering under the fine direction of Harry Viner. And Strauss’ pummeled husband – whose wife flails him with sudden, sharp fists that are so realistic they make you flinch – is a study of a warmly masculine man who is no wimp but no wife hitter either.
USA Today’s Matt Roush called the film “violent, unsettling and sympathetically acted,” while the New York Times’ John J. O’Connor praised the leads for their “searing” performances.
The Washington Post’s Tom Shales liked “Men Don’t Tell,” too, praising Light as “superb at bringing out the pathos as well as the hostility in this character.”
(Unfortunately, Shales’ review also included this tacky note: “[O]ne may wish for Light that her costar had been her old ‘Who’s the Boss?’ partner, Tony Danza, who deserves a few good whacks for the way he hammed it up on that awful show.” Shales also suggested that a version of “Men Don’t Tell” starring David Letterman and Sandra Bernhard would also be “tantalizing,” adding that he “shouldn’t joke” about spousal abuse.)
“Men Don’t Tell” was seen in 18.3 million homes, ranking third among the week’s prime time broadcast, behind ABC’s “Home Improvement” and CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Elsewhere on Television
TV Guide listings for March 14, 1993:
8 PM FOX IN LIVING COLOR (CC)
Scheduled: David Alan Grier introduces one of the “Great Moments in Black History” in music; and plays Rev. Al Sharpton on a hunger strike. Tommy Davidson, James Carrey.
8:30 FOX ROC (CC)
Eleanor (Ella Joyce) fears the romance has left her marriage, but when Roc (Charles E. Dutton) tries to put it back in, everything backfires. Andrew: Carl Gordon. (Live)
For the Record
Also on March 14, 1993:
Snow’s “Informer” rules the music chart. The alien-abduction film “Fire in the Sky” is the week’s top film at the box office. Robert James Waller’s “The Bridges of Madison County” continues its long run at the top of the best sellers’ list. And the monstrous Blizzard of ’93 is blamed 33 deaths, cutting power to 2.5 million homes, forcing thousands to evacuate flooded shores, closing many airports and roads and virtually shutting down normal life in the eastern United States.