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October 25, 1987|Kevin Thomas

The fondly recalled Titanic (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is more shipboard story than disaster movie. Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Wagner star in this sleek 1953 production, but it's Thelma Ritter's earthy unsinkable Mrs. Brown you remember best.

Brian De Palma's remake of Howard Hawks' gangster classic Scarface (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) moves the action from Chicago of the '20s to Miami's Cuban community today, but for all its operatic razzle-dazzle, it becomes a lurid exercise in wretched excess. Al Pacino has the title role as a doomed drug kingpin.

James Farentino and Jill Eikenberry star in the new TV movie Family Sins (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.), a drama about a family headed for tragedy.

Bay Coven (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), another new TV movie, is a thriller of the supernatural set in New England and starring Pamela Sue Martin as a newcomer to the community who starts suspecting that her neighbors may be witches.

Deep Dark Secrets (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), yet another new TV movie, finds Melody Anderson cast as a naive young wife who discovers some shocking secrets about her overprotective husband James Brolin.

As a deftly assembled compendium of some of the scariest moments in American movies of the last 25 years, Terror in the Aisles (Channel 11 Monday at 8 p.m.) is often fun; at the same time it inevitably documents the ever-increasing violence on our screens, a side effect clearly not intended.

Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) won Ellen Burstyn a 1975 Oscar for her fine portrayal of a vital, 35-year-old Oklahoma widow heading west in search of a new life for herself and her son.

Mazes and Monsters (Channel 11 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is an impressive 1982 TV movie based on Rona Jaffe's novel about the effect of fantasy role-playing games on four college students. Tom Hanks stars.

Written and directed by Richard Tuggle for Clint Eastwood, Tightrope (ABC Thursday at 9 p.m.) explores the darker side of Eastwood's New Orleans homicide detective who becomes overcome with sexual fantasies of his own as he tracks down an elusive killer-rapist. It features one of Eastwood's most ambitious and daring portrayals, but we never know how and why the detective began his trip away from conventionality.

In one warming stroke Rocky (Channel 5 Thursday at 7:30 p.m.) revived the tradition of the modestly budgeted movie that creates new stars (and new myths) and commands the rousing affection of its audiences by proclaiming the possibilities of love, hope and triumph in the lives of ordinary men and women--a description that would never fit Sylvester Stallone's more recent efforts.

Creature (Channel 11 Thursday at 8 p.m.) rips off "Alien" and then compounds the felony by doing it poorly. There's a guest turn by Klaus Kinski, who seems to have dropped in from 1982's "Android."

If it's a choice between Halloween (Channel 11 Friday at 8 p.m.) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.), by all means stick with the scary original. Also airing Friday at 8 p.m.: The Mechanic (Channel 13), a hard-edged, brutal yet absorbing gangster movie starring Charles Bronson as a veteran professional assassin who takes on as a protege a cynical, nervy young man (Jan-Michael Vincent).

Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) jettisons authenticity in regard to the famed Harlem hot spot yet comes up with a razzle-dazzle entertainment, a sort of gangster movie musical that stars Richard Gere as an ambitious cornet player and Gregory Hines as an equally driven tap-dancer. It's fun but mighty thin. Bob Hoskins is a splendid Owney Madden, the club's gangland proprietor, and so is Fred Gwynne as his avuncular sidekick.

Selected evening cable fare: Clockwise (Z Sunday at 7); Blue Velvet (Showtime Sunday at 8); The Great Gatsby (1949) (Z Monday at 7:30); The Phantom of the Opera (1925) (A&E Monday at 9, Bravo Saturday at 9); The Seventh Seal (Z Wednesday at 7); Circle of Deceit (Z Thursday at 9); The Ploughman's Lunch (A&E Friday at 9); The Old Dark House (1932) (Z Saturday at 6:30); The Howling (WGN Saturday at 8:30).

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