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September 21, 1986|Kevin Thomas

There's more smoke than fire in Pete's Dragon (ABC Sunday at 7 p.m.), another Disney mix of animation and live action in a musical format. Bland and heavy-handed, it's about the adventures of an orphan (likable Sean Marshall) and his guardian dragon (a whimsical creation of Ken Anderson) who upstages most of the live actors, who include Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons and Jim Dale.

Following Pete's Dragon at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC is You Only Live Twice, a fast, funny, no-holds-barred piece of outrageous nonsense that finds Sean Connery's James Bond off to Japan to find out who's hijacking spaceships in order to provoke war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Donald Pleasence is the villain.

Tony Thomas' hourlong Hollywood and the American Image (Channel 28 Sunday at 6 p.m.) is a documentary on how Hollywood viewed America during the golden age of the film industry.

Trackdown (Channel 11 Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a witty, high-style exploitation film that finds Montana rancher Jim Mitchum trying to find his runaway teen-age sister (Karen Lamm) in Hollywood. Anne Archer's high-class call girl is especially memorable.

The fall season is upon us, and the comedy-adventure Stranded (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) leads the parade of new TV movies. Loni Anderson and Perry King star as rival advertising executives who wind up on a South Pacific island.

It's Cary Grant week on Channel 11's 9 p.m. movie and John Wayne week on Channel 13 at 8 p.m. Best Grant bets: The Philadelphia Story (Thursday) and To Catch a Thief (Friday). The best Wayne films: Hatari! (Wednesday), The Searchers (Thursday), The Shootist (Friday) and Red River (Saturday).

Nancy McKeon stars in the new TV movie Firefighter (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) as the first woman to break into the all-male ranks of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Meanwhile, on NBC at the same hour, Tony Danza stars as a convicted killer-turned-jailhouse lawyer in another new TV movie, Doing Life.

Sophia Loren stars in the new three-hour TV movie Courage (CBS Wednesday at 8 p.m.), the true story of a New York City woman who risked her life to become an undercover operative for a joint federal-city drug enforcement task force. Billy Dee Williams and Hector Elizondo co-star.

A quite convincing depiction of Los Angeles being reduced to shambles by a giant tremor, Earthquake (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is above all a triumph of special effects, yet its story is somewhat--but not a whole lot--better than most disaster epics. Charlton Heston stars as an engineer unhappily married to Ava Gardner but attracted to Genevieve Bujold.

In 1972's Fat City (Channel 28 Saturday at 11 p.m.) John Huston confronted a piece of material and a milieu that was perfectly suited to his insights and talents. The result was one of his best pictures: a lean, compassionate, detailed, raucous, sad, strong look at some losers and survivors on the side streets of small-city middle America. Leonard Gardner did the script from his own hard-muscled novel about a pair of boxers in Stockton. One is having a separate fight with the bottle but thinks he can make a comeback in both rings. The other hopes boxing is a way out of having to pick walnuts or top onions for a living. Stacy Keach is the older fighter, not bad enough to quit but not good enough to go places, and caught in a boozy limbo in between. Jeff Bridges is the kid, none too bright but attractive and likable.

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