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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

June 30, 1985|KEVIN THOMAS

Code of Vengeance (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie, stars newcomer Charles Taylor as a mysterious drifter who avenges the murder of a young mother's brother only to become caught up in a war between rival gun runners and dope smugglers along the Arizona-Mexico border.

Airing opposite Code of Vengeance on ABC Sunday at 9 p.m. is a first-run two-hour episode of Call to Glory, which focuses on the impact of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Air Force Col. Sarnac (Craig T. Nelson) and his family. Just before that on ABC at 7 p.m. is an animated version of Kenneth Grahame's classic animal adventure story, The Wind in the Willows.

It's a terrible time slot--three successive Sundays from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.--on KCET Channel 28, but Jan Troell's epic story of the Swedish exodus to the American Midwest in the 19th Century, "The Emigrants" and its sequel, "The New Land," is worth watching. The two have been edited together and dubbed into English as The Emigrant Saga.

Valerie Harper stars in An Invasion of Privacy, a 1982 TV movie repeating Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS. She plays a recent divorcee determined to bring to trial the man who raped her despite the support he has in a small Maine community in which she has settled. Unfortunately, the film is not as uncompromising as the book on which it is based, Joan Taylor's "Asking for It."

Screening Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13 is that fine World War II movie, Sands of Iwo Jima, in which John Wayne played a tough Marine sergeant and earned his first--and only, until "True Grit"--Oscar nomination. Wayne also can be seen in Rio Grande (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.), the last in John Ford's masterful cavalry trilogy.

Jean Stapleton is game in her attempt to bring Eleanor Roosevelt to life, but she's done in by the script of Eleanor, First Lady of the World, a 1982 TV movie reprising on CBS Wednesday at 9 p.m. The result is a slow, choppy, dull saga of what was actually a full, remarkable life for Eleanor Roosevelt in the years after FDR's death.

Can't Stop the Music (ABC Thursday at 8 p.m.) takes the Village People, those irrepressible sendups of \o7 macho \f7 fantasy figures (and erstwhile disco music kings), and so sanitizes them that this 1980 disappointment ends up neither fish nor fowl nor good red-blooded satire but a wretched mess. The one big musical moment among many that actually works is the sexy, dynamic "Y.M.C.A.," inspired by the Village People's biggest hit. Valerie Perrine stars in a plot at once too trivial and too convoluted to describe here.

The 1983 TV movie White Water Rebels, which returns Friday on CBS at 9 p.m., is a so-so adventure drama in which white-water kayaker James Brolin and photojournalist Catherine Bach try to protect a mountain river from unscrupulous developers.

Due Friday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5 is Five Million Years to Earth, an exceptionally well-made and imaginative 1968 science-fiction fantasy in which London subway workmen come upon a spaceship from Mars, which proves to be no less than the dominion of Satan.

John Ford's penultimate film Cheyenne Autumn (Channel 13 Saturday at 6 p.m.) was not released in the form the great director intended but is nevertheless an elegiac account of the white man's mistreatment of the Indians. After Cheyenne Autumn at 8 p.m. on Channel 13 is another film from one of the masters, Frank Capra's timeless fantasy, It's a Wonderful Life, which is the favorite film of both Capra and its star James Stewart. Stewart plays a man so at the end of his tether he declares he wishes he hadn't been born--only to be forced to see what would have happened to his family and friends had he indeed \o7 not\f7 been born.

Selected evening fare on the pay/cable services: Purple Rain (Movie Channel Monday at 7, Showtime Wednesday at 8, Cinemax Thursday at 8, HBO Saturday at 8, Z Saturday at 9); Conan the Destroyer (HBO Monday at 8, Cinemax and Movie Channel Wednesday at 8, Showtime Friday at 8, Cinemax Saturday at 10); American Madness (Z Monday at 7:30, ON and SelecTV Thursday at 7); The Little Foxes (Disney Wednesday at 9); A Star Is Born (1954) (WTBS Wednesday at 9:50); Educating Rita (Cinemax Thursday at 6, HBO Friday at 9:30); The Right Stuff (Z Thursday at 8); Americana (Movie Channel Thursday at 10); A Star Is Born (1937) (A&E Saturday at 5 and 9); The Pope of Greenwich Village (Showtime Saturday at 9).

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