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November 03, 1985|KEVIN THOMAS

Eddie Murphy lit up the screen in his 1982 debut film 48 Hours (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), Walter Hill's smart, rambunctious cops-and-crooks comedy. Murphy's a convict that San Francisco police detective Nick Nolte has managed to spring for two days to help him nail one of Murphy's former cohorts (James Remar), who has escaped from prison, blown away a couple of cops and even made off with Nolte's gun. Murphy, in sharp threads, shows his stuff when he enters a redneck bar with all the bravado of Mae West. Backed only by Nolte's badge, Murphy makes short work of the entire dive. Totally kinetic and visual, 48 Hours is a constant excitement. Be warned, though, it's pretty violent in its slam-bang way.

Meanwhile, at 9 p.m. Sunday opposite 48 Hours, ABC offers the first installment of the six-part, 12-hour North and South, John Jakes' saga of two families in the pre-Civil War era.

Lindsay Wagner, Nancy McKeon and Chris Sarandon star in This Child Is Mine (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie centering on the legal and emotional struggle between adoptive parents and a teen-age mother over custody of a baby girl.

Channel 13 is devoting its 8 p.m. movie slot to an entire week of Clint Eastwood movies, starting with the Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns that made Eastwood a star, A Fistful of Dollars (Monday), For a Few Dollars More (Tuesday) and concluding with Play Misty for Me (Friday), the nifty thriller that marked Eastwood's debut as a director.

At 10 p.m. Monday, Channel 9 is airing Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring, a fine 1970 TV movie starring Sally Field as a dropout who returns home after a year of hippie life to find absolutely nothing changed once her typical suburbanite parents (Jackie Cooper, Eleanor Parker) have brushed away their tears of relief. It's a thorough survey of the generation gap.

Lucille Ball (on the cover) is so legendary a comedienne that there's a tendency to forget her many fine pre-"I Love Lucy" dramatic credits, the best of which is probably in the Damon Runyon tale "The Big Street," in which she played a doomed good-time girl opposite a shy, caring Henry Fonda. But now she returns to TV in The Stone Pillow (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) as an elderly Manhattan bag lady existing on scraps, spunk and old dreams. Daphne Zuniga plays a young social worker who befriends her. George Schaefer directed from Rose Leiman Goldemberg's script.

Don't take Joe Dante's The Howling (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) too seriously, and it can be lots of fun. (It must be stated that it does push to the limit the redeeming effects of humor upon sheer grisliness.) L.A. newscaster Dee Wallace has had such a bad brush with a psychopathic killer that she agrees when suave, soothing psychiatrist Patrick Macnee recommends that she and her husband (Christopher Stone, Wallace's real-life husband) go to his Northern California retreat to recuperate. All it takes is a quick cut to a grimacing John Carradine to let us know that rest and recreation are not in store for her. (Note: John Sayles did a polish on the film's script to help pay for his "The Return of the Secaucus Seven.")

One wonders what Roger Corman's The Trip (Channel 9 Thursday at 10 p.m.) looks like 18 years after its release. It stars Peter Fonda as a young man who takes LSD for a bit of insight but finds himself quickly plunging into a hell that allows Corman to unleash some of the lushest visual effects ever seen in an above-ground American movie up to that time. The Trip is a "Marienbad" for the masses, Dali for the drive-ins. With Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper.

Before the credits unroll for Terror Train (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.), a real jolter of a horror picture, we witness an unspeakably cruel and ghastly fraternity prank in which Jamie Lee Curtis is an unwitting participant. Cut to the present, showing Curtis becoming an unwilling guest at the same fraternity's New Year's masquerade party aboard a chartered excursion train whose engineer is a capable Ben Johnson. Curtis is soon to have good reason to be glad that Johnson is on hand.

Paul Brickman's Risky Business (CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.) is a genuinely funny comedy-fantasy about a young man (Tom Cruise) who, under the sway of seductive young hooker Rebecca De Mornay, turns his handsome Highland Park, Ill., home into a brothel while his parents are away.

Selected evening cable fare: A Nos Amours (Z Monday at 9); Out of the Past (Z Tuesday at 7); Swing Time (Z Thursday at 7); The Last Detail (WTBS Thursday at 8); On the Town (ON & SelecTV Thursday at 8:30); Get Carter (WGN Thursday at 9:30); Garbo Talks (Showtime Friday at 8); The Hollywood Knights (HBO Friday at 10); Cloak and Dagger (Cinemax Saturday at 6); The Asphalt Jungle (Movie Channel Saturday at 7); Breaking the Sound Barrier (Disney Saturday at 9).

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