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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

August 31, 1986|Kevin Thomas

Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) isn't as funny as his earlier spoof, "Murder by Death," but it's amusing in a very silly, broad Mad magazine way. Peter Falk is back as a Sam Spade replica from the earlier film, this time caught in a hopelessly tangled yarn Simon knitted together from "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca." Ann-Margret heads the all-star cast.

The Cheap Detective's competition on NBC (Sunday at 9 p.m.) is, appropriately, writer-producer Andrew J. Fenady's likable, though decidedly minor, The Man With Bogart's Face, starring that talented Bogart look-alike, Robert Sacchi, as "Sam Marlowe," whom Fenady involves in a spoof of those vintage plot-heavy mysteries. Unfortunately, its unraveling lacks style and pace; Fenady provided director Robert Day with too much talk and not enough action.

Also airing at 9 p.m. Sunday (on CBS) is a repeat of the negligible 1983 TV movie Summer Girl, in which Diane Franklin plays a sinister live-in baby sitter, whom Barry Bostwick and Kim Darby make the mistake of hiring.

The success of Sidney Lumet's stylish "Murder on the Orient Express" keyed another Agatha Christie mystery movie, Death on the Nile (ABC Monday at 8 p.m.), which isn't as well-turned as the earlier picture but is still quite entertaining. This time Peter Ustinov is Hercule Poirot, and aboard a Nile paddle-wheeler en route to Karnak, sometime in the '20s, are such redoubtables as Bette Davis, David Niven, Angela Lansbury and Jack Warden.

My Secret Angel (NBC Tuesday at 8 p.m.), previously titled "Found Money," is an engaging and ingenious 1983 TV movie starring Dick Van Dyke and Sid Caesar as two well-intentioned New York City bank employees determined to beat the system that's trying to do them in.

Drawing from personal experience, writer Bo Goldman's script for Shoot the Moon (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) was one of 1982's best, an exceedingly painful and persuasive account of the breakup of a marriage. But director Alan Parker tackled the material with such ferocity that this film about alienation becomes so alienating you cringe, especially as the husband (Albert Finney) rages out of control at his rejecting wife (Diane Keaton)--and the film goes right along with him.

Julia (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.), Fred Zinnemann's riveting film derived from a segment of Lillian Hellman's "Pentimento," stars Jane Fonda as Hellman and Vanessa Redgrave in the title role of Hellman's aristocratic girlhood friend who risks her life in ransoming Jews and other anti-Nazis out of Germany.

Peter Hyams' highly entertaining Outland (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.) is "High Noon" in outer space and affords Sean Connery one of his strongest portrayals as a federal marshal who's pulled a year's tour of duty at a mining colony on a volcanic moon of Jupiter. He's there only two weeks when he becomes puzzled by a series of deaths, all of them apparennt suicides.

Slither (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) is pure entertainment, a delightfully wacky comedy which finds James Caan, Sally Kellerman, Peter Boyle and Louise Lasser as a bunch of shady, kooky types in search of embezzled treasure.

The provocative but wildly uneven Taps (CBS Saturday at 8:30 p.m.) stars Timothy Hutton as a military academy cadet major, so beguiled by the school's old windbag commander (George C. Scott), that he leads a defense against the institution's bulldozing for a condo development.

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