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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

May 29, 1988|Kevin Thomas

Although flawed, the 1986 TV movie Who Is Julia? (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) offers a provocative premise that attempts to raise questions concerning humanity's relationship to science. Mare Winningham is persuasive as a woman who becomes the first human brain transplant patient. Walter Grauman directed from James S. Sadwith's script.

A garbled, improbable saga of sweet revenge, the 1985 theatrical feature Turk 182 (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) stars Timothy Hutton as a young New Yorker who embarks upon a one-man crusade to salvage the reputation of his older fireman brother (Robert Urich). Urich is badly injured while rescuing a child from a burning building but is denied a disability pension because his heroic deed came after he'd had a few beers. The film's Capra-esque storyline seems based on the notion that audiences are so full of contempt for callous politicians that they'll swallow any implausible heroics that enable a gutsy little guy to buck the system.

Eric Roberts (on the cover) stars in the new TV movie To Heal a Nation (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), about a dedicated group of veterans who overcome opposition to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

In a repeat of the 1986 TV movie Stranded (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), Loni Anderson and Perry King star as rival advertising executives who wind up on a South Pacific island.

Robert Ginty and Jeff McCracken play a pair of Chicago street cops who become undercover detectives for the Honolulu police in the 1984 TV movie pilot Hawaiian Heat (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.).

Blake Edwards' taut, sleek 1962 suspense film Experiment in Terror (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) remains one of his best. Glenn Ford stars as an FBI agent tracking down a killer (Ross Martin) who has kidnaped Stefanie Powers. Lee Remick plays Powers' older sister.

Robert Mulligan's 1982 Kiss Me Goodbye (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is an awkward reworking of the sizzling Brazilian "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands" in which Sally Field, about to marry Jeff Bridges, finds herself plagued by the ghost of her first husband, James Caan.

Made in 1980, Gloria (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is the most startlingly accessible and likable film of John Cassavetes' career, linked to his earlier (and subsequent) work by the authenticity of its settings and the radiant skills of Gena Rowlands. Cassavetes brings his jagged verite style to bear upon a pop plot, sometimes uneasily but always robustly. Rowlands is adorably crusty in this suspenseful comedy as a gangster's moll who has opted for a secure and contented early retirement in a Bronx apartment house--only to witness the assassination of a mob bookkeeper (Buck Henry) turned stool pigeon and winding up with his young son (John Adames) thrust into her arms. Now Gloria, one of the least maternal women in the borough, is stuck with a hot orphan whose only, but priceless, legacy is a small ledger full of incriminating account numbers.

The problem with the oppressive 1985 TV movie Surviving (ABC Thursday at 8 p.m.) is that after you ache for its two teen suicides, you ache for yourself for enduring this grueling experience that is so bleak and depressing, it may seem almost pointless despite excellent performances all around. It sets the stage for a suicide pact between two terribly lonely and unhappy teen lovers (Zach Galligan, Molly Ringwald) who receive no emotional sustenance from their affluent parents. By the time their fates are settled, you are simply too mentally ground down to deal with the problems of their surviving families. Not helping matters is its padded-out three-hour running time.

Harry in Your Pocket (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a pleasant, slender tale about pickpockets starring James Coburn, Walter Pidgeon, Michael Sarrazin and Trish Van Devere that at times threatens to tell us more about pocket picking than it does about its people, but it's winning all the same. Veteran Pidgeon steals the show.

What is most impressive about the 1972 Boxcar Bertha (Channel 5 Friday at 8:30 p.m.) is how Martin Scorsese, in his first Hollywood venture, has managed to shape such familiar material into a viable (though bloody) film. Barbara Hershey and David Carradine star as legendary Depression-era outlaws in a tale that's one part "Bonnie and Clyde," one part "Joe Hill"--Carradine plays fearless labor radical Big Bill Shelley--and one part "Easy Rider" in its view of the oppressiveness and bigotry of the Deep South. What gives the film its substance, along with its lush Arkansas locales, is the character of Big Bill, who finds himself conscience-stricken in his new life as a stick-up man.

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