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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

September 20, 1987|Michael Wilmington

The sneakily expert Blake Edwards blind-sides us again in the 1984 Micki and Maude (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.). For a while, we seem to be watching a leisurely light comedy about a likable reporter (Dudley Moore) who winds up a likable, if harried, bigamist. Then Edwards pushes his premise to the limit, tossing us into a slapstick paroxysm in a maternity ward, with the frantic husband trapped between two pregnancies, a suspicious nurse and almost certain disaster. At this kind of thing, Edwards--and Moore--have no peers.

Sunday also brings Robert Benton's fine, funny-sad '70s-style film noir , The Late Show (Channel 13 at 3 p.m.) starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin as an aging gumshoe and his meddlesome boss, and the original 1958 version of The Fly (Channel 5 at 3 p.m.), still shivery, but not as dark or buzzy as the 1986 David Cronenberg remake (shown on cable this week).

In The Highwayman (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) "plumber"-turned-actor G. Gordon Liddy thrills us with movie villainy, playing a chap who "who lives in luxury bought with illegal funds . . . and underhanded business dealings." (But no burglaries.)

Burt Reynolds is on hand twice Sunday. He's in the genial Hal Needham action comedy about stunt men, Hooper (Channel 13 at 6 p.m.), in which Needham and Reynolds get in nasty digs at Peter ("Pieces of Time") Bogdanovich, and also in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (ABC at 9 p.m.) This last piece of lewdly elephantine fluff, based on Larry King's Broadway musical, makes Dallas' infamous "Chicken Ranch" into a funfair bordello, more suitable for Col. Sanders than Sally Stanford.

The Osterman Weekend (Channel 11 Monday at 8 p.m.), based on Robert Ludlum's CIA-vs.-KGB on Old Home Week thriller, was Sam Peckinpah's last movie. Good enough by most standards, it sadly lacks most of this great film maker's bitter humor and fabulous, fiery action pyrotechnics. The Bravados (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.), with Gregory Peck and Joan Collins, was the last Western of Henry King's. It's a brutal example of his favorite form: the revenge or pursuit Western, worth seeing despite a sentimental climax.

The new TV movie If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) promises us Claude Akins, Courteney Cox and "the high jinks of a group of American misfits"--based, no doubt on the 1969 "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium." (These distinctions get very subtle.)

In The Stunt Man (Channel 11 Tuesday at 8 p.m.), a criminal on the run takes the place of a movie company stunt man--no "Hooper"--accidentally killed in a police chase. In some ways, it's an obvious allegory, but B-movie vet Richard Rush keeps it churning with energy and bravura movie tricks. And it has a show-stopping, John Barrymore-style grand ham performance by Peter O'Toole as the movie's director.

Blake Edwards returns--this time with a severely underrated Bill Holden-Ryan O'Neal Western, Wild Rovers (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.). John Ford, and maybe even Sam Peckinpah, were definitely on Edwards' mind when he made it.

Who says nobody thinks up original stories any more? Angel in Green (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) offers us Bruce Boxleitner and Susan Dey in the tearful tale of a Green Beret captain and his "crack special forces unit," who--while aiding a beautiful chess-playing nun on a South Seas island ridden with terrorists--are mistaken by the village children for heavenly angels. Top that one.

Jack Smight's No Way to Treat a Lady (Channel 11 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a curious thriller from a William Goldman novel--with Rod Steiger cavorting in various disguises as a mama's boy who kills ladies and flirtatiously taunts the cop (George Segal) chasing him.

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are, of course, the Ghostbusters (ABC Thursday at 9 p.m.), three whimsical chaps (bustin' makes them feel so good . . .) in pursuit of beasties and ghosties and things that go bump in the night--with Sigourney Weaver on the side. Very few mysteries remain about this universally seen and laughed-at megahit, but the biggest one is this: Why did Aykroyd and Ramis give all the best lines to Murray? ("They slimed me!")

Dressed to Kill (Channel 11 Friday at 8 p.m.) is the movie that made Brian De Palma a bete noir to people concerned with movie violence: a shocking, perverse, amoral, sexy, bloody, horrific pastiche of Hitchcock in general and "Psycho" in particular. In it, a puzzled psychiatrist (Michael Caine), a hooker and a murder victim's brainy son track a transvestite killer through a maze of corpses and red herrings. The plot is ridiculous, but De Palma knows how to put the screws to you: One elegantly shot pursuit in a sterile art museum is a real stunner.

A more standard revenge thriller is Michael Apted's Firstborn (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.)--with a wholesome family striking back at depraved boor and future "RoboCop," Peter Weller.

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