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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

December 07, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS

A new TV movie version of Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) stars George C. Scott as a retired police inspector who unofficially investigates a grisly double murder in 19th-Century Paris.

The two-part, four-hour Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (NBC Sunday and Monday at 9 p.m.) is the latest probing of whether a young woman named Anna Anderson, who turned up in a Berlin asylum in 1920, actually was the daughter of Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia and therefore a survivor of the 1917 execution of her parents and their other four children. Amy Irving (pictured on the cover), who plays Anna, Rex Harrison, Olivia de Havilland and Omar Sharif star. Oscar-winner James Goldman wrote the script and Emmy-winner Marvin Chomsky directed.

The 1960 version of Swiss Family Robinson, starring John Mills and Dorothy McGuire, airs on the "Disney Sunday Movie" at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Herbert Ross' The Turning Point (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) is that crisp and stylish study of two middle-age friends reunited after many years. Shirley MacLaine is embittered that she gave up dancing for marriage, whereas her friend Anne Bancroft went on to become a star ballerina but now faces the inevitable decline of her glory and an accompanying loneliness. This is an adroit, involving film about choices and their consequences. (A highlight of the film is Mikhail Baryshnikov performing in "Le Corsaire.")

Directed by Martin Ritt and adapted by Julius Epstein from the Peter De Vries novella "Witch's Milk," Pete 'n' Tillie (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) moves from comedy to tragedy and in doing so never quite regains its equilibrium. Even so, Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett are splendid as a pair of sardonic singles who meet and marry in San Francisco only to be confronted with cruel and unexpected grief.

Evil Under the Sun (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is a delightful rendering of an Agatha Christie yarn set in a tiny luxury hotel (owned by ex-actress Maggie Smith) in the Adriatic in the '30s and peopled with raffish American and British visitors caught up in a murder. Among Smith's guests: glamorous musical comedy star Diana Rigg, Hollywood columnist Roddy McDowall, husband-and-wife Broadway producers Sylvia Miles and James Mason--and Peter Ustinov's Hercule Poirot. Cole Porter tunes provide the background for the sophisticated fun.

Also airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday (on Channel 13): John Huston's classic parable of gold lust and greed, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart.

The marvelously sexy and witty Diana Rigg is seen again to great advantage in The Assassination Bureau (Channel 11 Wednesday at 9 p.m.), an all-too-overlooked British gem derived from Jack London in which Rigg plays a turn-of-the-century liberationist bent on destroying London journalism's all-male exclusivity by unmasking and destroying an organization of paid killers headed by Oliver Reed.

Conduct Unbecoming (Channel 11 Thursday at 9 p.m.), adapted by Robert Enders from Barry England's play, peers beneath the teatime tidiness and clockwork pomps of regimental frontier life in India, 1878, to discover a rancid stew of lustings, frustrations, tauntings, dishonor and even madness, all papered over in the sacred names of tradition, duty and honor. Michael York, Richard Attenborough, Trevor Howard, Stacy Keach, Christopher Plummer and Susannah York star.

Friday brings a Sam Fuller war picture, Merrill's Marauders (Channel 13 at 8 p.m.), and The Man (Channel 11 at 9 p.m.), a fast, lively melodrama with a concise, witty script by Rod Serling (from Irving Wallace's novel) in which James Earl Jones gives a many-sided portrayal of a scholar-politician who winds up as the first black president. Joseph Sargent directed.

Selected evening cable fare: The Elephant Man (Cinemax Sunday at 8, Z Friday at 9); Kagemusha (Bravo Sunday at 9); Brazil (Movie Channel Sunday at 9, Cinemax Thursday at 9, Showtime Friday at 10); Prizzi's Honor (Z Sunday at 9); The Lodger (Bravo Monday at 8); Modern Times (Movie Channel Monday at 9); Lost in America (HBO Monday at 9:30, Showtime Wednesday at 9); Portrait of Jennie (SelecTV Tuesday at 6); To Begin Again (Bravo Tuesday at 8); Phar Lap (HBO Wednesday at 6, Bravo at 9:30); Tracks (Z Wednesday at 7:30); Irezumi (Bravo Wednesday at 8); The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Z Wednesday at 9).

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