In Brothers-in-Law (ABC on Sunday at 8 p.m.), the first of two made-for-TV movies airing back to back, a highway patrolman and a trucker team up to take on an unscrupulous tycoon. Mac Davis, Joe Cortese and Robert Culp star. Carl Weathers and Joseph Bottoms play the leads in Braker (ABC on Sunday at 9:30 p.m.), a drama about a veteran police lieutenant and a young patrolman who investigate a murder in Hollywood.
Francis Coppola is a master storyteller, and his Apocalypse Now (ABC on Monday at 8 p.m.) is a landmark in film history. Whatever its philosophical overlay, the film is an unusually suspenseful and unpredictable adventure story, energetic and extraordinarily fertile in its images and events. Martin Sheen is discovered in Saigon in a fleabag hotel, debauched, hung over and still twitching from his last intelligence assignment. His voyage upriver to find the near-mythical Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a Special Forces officer driven mad apparently by the unique cruelty and appalling complexity of the war, is the core of the film. The journey is into darkness and is a journey as well from official madness to unofficial madness, from the modern world to the horrors of Brando's jungle fortress. Sheen's performance is a portrayal of lean, strong, clenched purposefulness, and it looks as exhausting as it must have been: Sheen suffered a heart attack while filming. The film itself is a chipped masterpiece. There are moments when the strain of matching the technique to the emotional intensity draws attention to itself.
At once crushing and rewarding, Adam (NBC on Monday at 8 p.m.) is a true story about the 1981 abduction of 6-year-old Adam Walsh in Hollywood, Fla., that begins heartbreakingly and concludes with a sense of hope and triumph. JoBeth Williams and Daniel J. Travanti are exceptional as Adam's anguished parents, who subsequently mount a national campaign to locate missing children. It is the third airing for this award-winning and influential 1983 TV movie, and it will be followed at 10 p.m. by the one-hour special "Missing--Have You Seen This Person?" hosted by Meredith Baxter Birney and David Birney (pictured on the cover).
A sleek 1980 romantic comedy directed by Jack Smight from Martin Donavan's clever script, Loving Couples (CBS on Tuesday at 9 p.m.) stars James Coburn and Shirley MacLaine as successful Beverly Hills doctors--is there any other kind?--whose marriage is aground on the shoals of tedium. Enter realtor Stephen Collins and his girlfriend, Susan Sarandon. They do what Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice only talked about doing back in the '60s. Then Sally Kellerman arrives as a sort of free-floating sexpot who dampens all ardors but her own. To the film's credit, there's a sense of genuine feeling lurking beneath its sharp satirical surface.
Airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Channel 5 is that landmark film musical, Cabaret, which brings insight, candor and compassion to flawed creatures in the ominous society of Berlin, 1930, evoking in the process the brutally satiric drawings of George Grosz. Directed dazzlingly by Bob Fosse from Jay Allen's script (which is much closer to the spirit of Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories" than the book of the Broadway musical they inspired), Cabaret presents Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, the expatriate American girl performing in the Kit Kat Klub. Minnelli has both the waif-like vulnerability and the steely, reckoning ambition of the star. Sleek-haired and rouged, Joel Grey is the master of ceremonies at this way station on one of Dante's descending circles of hell, and Michael York is the bisexual involved with both Sally and the aristocratic Helmut Griem. The durable words and music are by Fred Ebb and John Kander.
Dreams Don't Die: The Ray Mancini Story (CBS on Wednesday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie starring Doug McKeon as the boxer who won the world lightweight championship, a goal that eluded his father (played by Robert Blake) because of wounds suffered in World War II. Sylvester Stallone, who choreographed the boxing matches, also served as executive producer.
Selected evening fare on the pay/cable services: The Right Stuff (Movie Channel on Sunday at 8); Hearts and Minds (Z on Tuesday at 7); The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (SelecTV on Tuesday at 9); Police Academy (Movie Channel on Wednesday at 7, HBO on Wednesday at 8, Showtime on Friday at 8, Z on Friday at 9); The Aviator's Wife (Z on Wednesday at 7); Iceman (Showtime on Wednesday at 8, ON and SelecTV on Friday at 9); All That Jazz (Cinemax on Thursday at 8); Heart Like a Wheel (Cinemax on Friday at 8); Last Embrace (Cinemax on Saturday at 10); Les Grandes Manouvres (Arts & Entertainment on Saturday at 6:50 and 10:50).