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July 06, 1986|Kevin Thomas

One of the best triumph-over-adversity TV movies, the 1985 First Steps (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) tells without mawkishness the true story of a young Ohio girl, played by Amy Steel, left paralyzed after a car crash. She learns to walk again through the pioneering work in computer electrodes by bio-engineer Dr. Jerrold Petrofsky (Judd Hirsch).

Also a repeat, The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins (NBC Sunday at 8 p.m.) is a routine TV movie starring Gary Coleman as the daydreaming son of a diplomat who unknowingly becomes a target of secret agents.

Although director Jim McBride and writer L. M. (Kit) Carson's 1983 remake of Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" hasn't the ironic detachment of the New Wave classic, their Breathless (Channel 13 Sunday at 6 p.m.) is stylish and entertaining in a shallow, jazzy way as we follow Richard Gere's totally amoral loser on a tour of seamy L.A. in pursuit of a young French architecture student (Valerie Kaprisky, gorgeous but no actress).

Resurrection (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) is a hypnotic and memorable film about a thoroughly modern woman (Ellen Burstyn) who discovers she possesses healing powers. Directed by Daniel Petrie and written by Lewis John Carlino, this unjustly neglected tale of faith healing is surprisingly persuasive. Sam Shepard and Eva LeGalliene co-star.

Another TV movie in rerun, The Execution (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) is a contrived melodrama about five women (Loretta Swit, Valerie Harper, Sandy Dennis, Barbara Barrie, Jessica Walter), all concentration camp survivors, who recognize a successful L.A. restaurateur (Rip Torn) as a sadistic Nazi doctor.

The Carey Treatment (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.) is a sleek, entertaining, low-key mystery directed with high style by Blake Edwards and starring James Coburn.

Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.), starring Clark Gable as a brash newspaper reporter and Claudette Colbert as a runaway heiress, remains just about the most pleasurable American movie ever made.

Peter Hyams' Hanover Street (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.), set in 1943 London, tries to recapture the romance and melodrama of World War II movies but with mixed results. Hyams has better luck with the adventures which ensnare Harrison Ford's American bomber pilot and Lesley-Anne Down's married woman, but the crucial chemistry between his stars is lacking.

Up the Creek (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a college comedy starring Tim Matheson and centering on a raft race. A minor item, but a rambunctious enough diversion if you're in an undemanding mood.

A matched set of fine performances by Edward Asner (as a gruff, slovenly undercover cop) and Jean Simmons (as a college professor who poses as a bag lady to trap a killer) is the main attraction of the 1981 TV movie A Small Killing (Channel 4 Friday at 8 p.m.), an otherwise predictable, occasionally preposterous murder mystery.

The 1983 TV movie Running Out (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.) is an effective drama starring Deborah Raffin as a woman who abandoned her husband (Tony Bill) and daughter (Toni Kalem) 12 years earlier and has now returned.

Paul Newman returned as the tough private eye Harper (based on Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer) in The Drowning Pool (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.), but this second outing wasn't as successful.

The Cowboys (CBS Saturday at 8:30 p.m.) is one of John Wayne's last and most disturbing Westerns. This is the one in which Wayne is a Montana rancher who, because of a gold strike, has to turn to schoolboys to help in a cattle drive. Inevitably, the experience becomes their rite of passage, but the film doesn't deal with the implications of the boys taking the law into their own hands and even turning killers.

Running (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is a decent, though bland, little film starring Michael Douglas as a runner with a fear of failure. A sympathetic Susan Anspach is his loving wife, who decides to leave him in the hope that this will force him to find himself. The obsession to run comes through clearly enough, but not the mystique of running itself.

Selected evening cable fare: Starman (HBO Sunday at 6); Prizzi's Honor (Z Sunday at 6:30 and Wednesday at 9, Showtime Friday at 8); Swann in Love (Bravo Sunday at 8:30); Once Upon a Time in America (SelecTV Tuesday at 7); Fitzcarraldo (Lifetime at 8 Tuesday and Wednesday); Americana (Movie Channel Wednesday at 6); Into the Night (Showtime Wednesday at 9); The Buddy Holly Story (Cinemax Thursday at 7); Mask (Movie Channel Thursday at 7); Body Double (HBO Thursday at 9); Monkey Grip (Bravo Friday at 8:30); Odd Man Out (Movie Channel Saturday at 7).

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