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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

August 10, 1986|Kevin Thomas

Malcolm Leo and Andrew Solt's This Is Elvis (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) avoids sensationalizing or exploiting the life and times of the King of Rock 'n' Roll in favor of a painstaking, poignant evocation. Neither documentary or dramatization, this 1981 film draws from newsreel footage, Presley's own home movies, some revealing outtakes from his concert films, TV appearances and clips from several of his films. Some key moments from Presley's youth have been re-created for the camera, a dubious device at best, but the film makers resort to this only when they think it necessary.

Airing at 9 p.m. Sunday on CBS is a repeat of the diverting TV movie He's Fired, She's Hired, a comedy starring Wayne Rogers as a Madison Avenue advertising executive laid off during a recession who, with his wife (Karen Valentine), concocts an ingenious revenge.

ABC is offering a double feature Sunday night of new TV movies--they sound like series pilots--Northstar (at 8), starring Greg Evigan as an astronaut stalked by a killer after a freak accident in space, and Condor (at 9:30), starring Ray Wise as a secret agent teamed with an android (Wendy Kilbourne) in an attempt to track down a woman who has the access code to the Pentagon's computers.

Airing on the "Disney Sunday Movie" on ABC at 7 p.m. is 2 1/2 Dads, a repeat comedy about two fathers and a bachelor sharing a house.

Stefanie Powers, Maureen Stapleton and Melissa Gilbert star in Family Secrets (NBC Monday at 8 p.m.), a strong 1984 TV movie about three generations of women who spend an emotionally charged weekend together.

In Kansas City Bomber (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.) Raquel Welch is most persuasive as a Fresno divorcee who becomes a roller-skating champion. Lively and unpretentious, it remains one of Welch's best movies.

Four of Marilyn Monroe's best films will screen on Channel 11's 9 p.m. movie this week: The Seven Year Itch (Monday), Niagara (Tuesday), The Misfits (Wednesday) and River of No Return (Thursday).

Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!) is a fun Peanuts animated feature repeating Wednesday on CBS at 8 p.m.

Ice Station Zebra (Channel 7 Friday at 8 p.m.) is a tense but needlessly confusing Cold War adventure set at the North Pole and starring Rock Hudson.

Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins star in The Pirate Movie (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.), a lame 1982 Australian picture loosely based on "The Pirates of Penzance."

Lynne Littman's unforgettable, uncompromising and understated Testament (Channel 28 Friday at 9:10 p.m.) is quite simply the most powerful anti-nuclear dramatic film ever made and stars Jane Alexander, superb as a woman trying to hold her family together in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

In Whose Life Is It Anyway? (Channel 5 Saturday at 8 p.m.) when a quadriplegic (Richard Dreyfuss) at last gets to plea before a judge for his right to die, he breaks through to an eloquence and seriousness that finally invites us to imagine ourselves in his terrible plight. But the getting to this climactic moment is excruciating--everybody around Dreyfuss is insufferably noble, while he is gratingly comical. It's a very soft, sugarcoated approach to the right-to-die question.

Also airing Saturday at 8 p.m. (on ABC) is a repeat of The Ewok Adventure, the disappointing spinoff of George Lucas' "Return of the Jedi" featuring that film's furry, teddy-bearlike creatures. It's best appreciated by elementary school-age youngsters.

Yet another 8 p.m. Saturday offering is the romantic, suspenseful and well-wrought Forbidden (on Channel 13), starring Jacqueline Bisset as a Berlin aristocrat who hides her Jewish lover (Jurgen Prochnow) in her apartment for the duration of World War II.

Blake Edwards' vitriolic Valentine to Hollywood, S.O.B. (CBS Saturday at 8:30 p.m.), is always audacious, often hilarious but sometimes downright appalling. It has to do with a top Hollywood producer (Richard Mulligan), married to America's G-rated sweetheart (Julie Andrews), who decides to sex up their latest film to save it from disaster. There are brilliant, inspired moments in S.O.B.--but there are others that are sometimes merely silly; underneath the laughter, however, is a very angry film, one of the angriest ever made about Hollywood and its audiences. S.O.B. represents Edwards at his best--and his worst.

King Creole, one of Elvis' best, screens at 9 p.m. Saturday on Channel 11, and Woodstock, the 1970 Oscar-winning documentary on the historic rock festival, screens Saturday on Channel 28 at 9:35 p.m.

Selected evening cable fare: Silverado (SelecTV Sunday at 8); The Milky Way (Bravo Sunday at 9); The Red Balloon (Disney Channel Sunday at 10:15); The Death of Mario Ricci (Z Monday at 7); Tristana (Bravo Monday at 8:30); Chariots of Fire (Showtime Monday at 9); Crossover Dreams (Cinemax Tuesday at 6:30); This Is Spinal Tap (Z Tuesday at 7); Cal (Bravo Tuesday at 9:30); Seven Beauties (Z Wednesday at 7); Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (Bravo Thursday at 9); Assault on Precinct 13 (Cinemax Thursday at 9); The Fourth Man (Bravo Friday at 8); An Englishman Abroad (AE Friday at 9); Stranger Than Paradise (Bravo Friday at 10); The Killing Fields (Showtime Saturday at 9).

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