Before the trash takes over Sunday prime time with the silly The Concorde: Airport '79 (ABC at 8 p.m.) and Part I of a rerun of Princess Daisy (NBC at 9 p.m.), John Ford's The Searchers screens at 6 p.m. on Channel 13. Not only is this 1956 Western one of Ford's finest efforts but it also is one of the most influential films ever made, having been reworked countless times since. Written by Frank Nugent and starring John Wayne, it is the saga of a man's dogged, years-long search for his niece (Natalie Wood), kidnaped as a child by Indians.
Wood also stars in the 1979 TV miniseries remake of From Here to Eternity, soapier than the distinguished original, which repeats Monday through Wednesday on Channel 5 at 8 p.m. Also returning Monday is none other than The French Connection (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.), surely one of the most exciting--and brutal--movies ever made. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are the two Manhattan narcotics detectives onto a haul of heroin worth $32 million. This is slam-bang, suspenseful, sardonically funny, furious-paced melodrama culminating in the justly famous chase sequence.
In an inspired piece of offbeat casting, Danny Kaye stars as a brave, elderly Jew in the fine, angry 1981 TV movie Skokie (CBS Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.), based on the 1977 incident when the American Nazi Party attempted to stage a demonstration in Skokie, Ill., a Chicago suburb with one of the country's largest groups of concentration camp survivors.
Airing Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS is a repeat of Running Out, a 1983 TV movie starring Deborah Raffin as a young woman reunited with the daughter (Ari Meyers) she had abandoned at the age of 15, totally unprepared for motherhood. Tears are jerked furiously, but Raffin manages to make us care about this woman.
A sophisticated attempt at a contemporary "Casablanca," Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously (Channel 5 at 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday) has Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver caught up in a romance as steamy as its exotic Indonesian locale--the time is the toppling of Sukarno. It offers a tragic perception of East-West relations, and it has Weir's usual bold, sensual style. All these elements don't mesh quite as stunningly as they did in Weir's "The Last Wave," but it is a worthy film all the same. Part of the problem is that Weir never seemed to decide whether the film belongs to the lovers or to Linda Hunt, who won an Oscar as the diminutive, intrepid half-Chinese, half-Australian photojournalist-cameraman named Billy Kwan.
Airing opposite Weir's film Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC is The Main Event, a misfired attempt to revive '30s screwball comedy that finds perfume tycoon Barbra Streisand forced to take over the career of recalcitrant boxer Ryan O'Neal.
Susan Clark shines in the otherwise sudsy 1981 TV movie The Choice (NBC Friday at 8 p.m.), playing a mother whose daughter must decide whether or not to have an abortion. Neil Simon's 1978 California Suite (ABC Friday at 9 p.m.) consists of four uneven episodes set at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The first two are the best and involve Jane Fonda as a brittle Newsweek editor who comes West to fight with her ex-husband Alan Alda over their daughter, and Maggie Smith as a rattled Oscar nominee seeking solace from her beloved but homosexual husband Michael Caine.
Airing Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on CBS are Parts I and II of Chiefs, an uneven six-hour miniseries about a small Southern town harboring a mass murderer whose crimes go undetected for decades; the main themes are relations between the races and between fathers and sons. Charlton Heston stars.
Coming up Saturday is another of the Ford-Wayne classics, The Quiet Man (Channel 13 at 8 p.m.), and in celebration of the centennial of Jerome Kern's birth, MGM's ponderous 1946 biography of Kern, Till the Clouds Roll (Channel 28 at 10 p.m.), in which Robert Walker stars. Still, there are all those Kern melodies.
Selected evening pay/cable fare: The Big Chill (Cinemax Sunday at 8 and SelecTV at 9, Cinemax Friday at 10:30); Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Showtime Sunday at 8); Easy Rider (Cinemax Sunday at 10, Movie Channel Wednesday at 6); Electric Dreams (HBO Sunday at 10, Z Saturday at 7); Tell Me a Riddle (Z Sunday at 11); The Night of the Shooting Stars (Z Monday at 9); Wild River (WGN Monday at 9:30); Double Indemnity (WGN Tuesday at 9); The Twist (Movie Channel Thursday at 10); Perfect Friday (WTBS Friday at 7); Forbidden (HBO Friday at 9:45).