No one can complain of a lack of variety in the 9 p.m. Sunday movie offerings. ABC has Tootsie in its network premiere while NBC is bringing back First Blood--it was last aired on Mother's Day!--and CBS has Amos, a new TV movie starring Kirk Douglas and Elizabeth Montgomery.
Time is ever the ultimate critic on such matters, but Tootsie seems destined to be a classic screen comedy, so perfect is its timing. What a joy is Dustin Hoffman's performance as a dedicated but unemployed New York actor driven to disguise himself as an actress, winding up a soap opera star while Hoffman ends up with his male consciousness raised. Among Hoffman's perplexed colleagues and friends are Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Charles Durning and Bill Murray. Larry Gelbart wrote the inspired script, directed flawlessly by Sydney Pollack, who also plays Hoffman's agent.
First Blood stirred up nothing like the controversy its sequel "Rambo" has, but all the same it is disturbing in its combination of extreme violence and exceptional craftsmanship. In his first time out as Rambo, the once-heroic Vietnam vet, Sylvester Stallone is hounded by sadistic small-town police until he turns into a killing machine. Whatever comment was intended in this 1982 film--based on David Morrell's favorably received novel--is lost in an all-out exploitation of violence for its own sake.
Amos, the first of three new TV movies airing on CBS this week, stars Kirk Douglas in the title role as a 78-year-old former minor league baseball player and coach who lands in a nursing home run by a rigid and capricious Elizabeth Montgomery, whose patients start dying mysteriously. Among the menaced: Dorothy McGuire, Pat Morita and Ray Walston.
Looking at the rest of the week, Airport '77 kicks off a week of disaster movies screening Monday through Friday on Channel 5 at 8 p.m. Best bets in the lineup are The Poseidon Adventure (Tuesday) and Earthquake (Wednesday).
Even better are Channel 13's 8 p.m. movies, which begin Monday with King Solomon's Mines, the African adventure so beloved by youngsters of all ages. Tuesday and Wednesday bring those Howard Hawks classics, Hatari and Red River, respectively. The Crimson Pirate, the glorious Burt Lancaster pirate picture, airs Thursday.
Murder: By Reason of Insanity (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie, based on an actual incident, in which Candice Bergen and Jurgen Prochnow star as wife and husband who defect from Poland. Prochnow has such a hard time adjusting to life in America that Bergen begins fearing for her life. Hector Elizondo and Eli Wallach co-star.
James Brolin and Lisa Hartman star in another new TV movie, Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues (CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.). They play a mismatched pair of police officers tracking down a killer from Wyoming in Beverly Hills. Hartman arrives from Laramie only to be sourly greeted by the BHPD's Brolin, under orders to keep her out of mischief and get her out of town as fast as possible. It's described by the network as a "lighthearted thriller."
Now here's a great lighthearted thriller for sure: Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 classic The 39 Steps, in which Robert Donat, one of Hitchcock's innocent men wrongly accused of murder, eludes police on a chase across Scotland, provocatively handcuffed to the beautiful Madeleine Carroll. Twice re-made but never equaled, The 39 Steps screens Saturday at 10 p.m. on Channel 28.
Selected pay TV/cable evening fare: Gloria (HBO Sunday at 6); Vertigo (ON and SelecTV Sunday at 7); Q (Cinemax Monday at 8); The Last Tycoon (Movie Channel Monday at 8); Fanny and Alexander, Parts I-III (Z Monday at 8); Educating Rita (HBO Monday at 10); The Country Girl (WTBS Tuesday at 7:10); Fanny and Alexander, Parts IV-VI (Z Tuesday at 8); Killing Heat, released theatrically as "The Grass Is Singing" (ON and SelecTV Tuesday at 8:30); 10 (Z Tuesday at 11, Z Thursday at 9, Movie Channel Saturday at 7); Road Games (ON and SelecTV Wednesday at 7); The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Z Wednesday at 7:30); The Border (Movie Channel Wednesday at 8); A Big Hand for the Little Lady (Cinemax Wednesday at 9:30, Movie Channel Thursday at 8); Harry and Tonto (WGN Thursday at 9:30); The Westerner (Movie Channel Friday at 6); All the Right Moves (ON and SelecTV Friday at 7); Heart Like a Wheel (Z Friday at 7); Grandview, U.S.A. (ON and SelecTV Friday at 8:30); The Year of Living Dangerously (Showtime Saturday at 6); Black Orpheus (A&E Saturday at 7); Emperor Jones (A&E Saturday at 9).