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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

June 19, 1988|Kevin Thomas

A Father's Homecoming (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie written by Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, is set in a small New England boarding school during a time of change. Michael McKean stars as its new headmaster.

Intimate Strangers (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) is an implausibly written 1986 TV movie starring Teri Garr as an Army nurse who, on the final day of the Vietnam war, is separated from her physician husband Stacy Keach and captured by the North Vietnamese and held prisoner for the next nine years.

Although there's something tentative and episodic about Claudia Weill's 1980 film It's My Turn (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.), it does have wit and poignance and a real feeling for character and relationships. Jill Clayburgh stars as a professor of mathematics sharing a chic Chicago loft with aggressive property developer Charles Grodin. On a trip to New York she finds her life turned upside down when she meets her brand-new mother-in-law's son (Michael Douglas), a former major league baseball player.

Encounters in the Night (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a shallow exercise in titillation, is a 1986 TV movie starring Donna Mills as a beautiful, wealthy woman whose marriage has gone flat and who starts fantasizing about having sex with strangers.

Brady's Escape (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.) is a glum, misguided attempt to blend the traditional European war film with the American-style family picture, complete with paternal warmth and love of animals. John Savage stars as a Wyoming rancher who was aided by self-sacrificing Hungarians in making it to the Yugoslavian border, eluding the hateful Nazis who are in hot pursuit.

George Stevens' visually superb but ponderous The Greatest Story Ever Told airs in two parts on Channel 13 Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. Having taken a middle road in telling the story of Christ, Stevens has made a compromised film, making some of his points with subtlety and others with surprising banality. He shows Jesus both as the Lamb and the Lion, and Max von Sydow is impressive in both aspects. However, many of the dozens of stars are disconcertingly recognizable.

Silent Witness (NBC Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a standard TV movie made in 1985 and starring Valerie Bertinelli as a woman thrown into conflict when she witnesses her brother-in-law's participation in a barroom rape.

Lynn Littman's unforgettable, uncompromising and understated 1983 Testament (Channels 28 and 15 Wednesday at 9 p.m.) is quite simply the most powerful anti-nuclear dramatic film ever made and stars Jane Alexander, superb as a woman trying to hold her family together in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

With its acute evocation of the stifling ethnic atmosphere of life in Manhattan's Little Italy, Martin Scorsese's 1973 Mean Streets (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) shows how difficult it is for young Italian-Americans to escape their ghettoized existence, trapped as they are by traditions riddled with destructive contradictions and hypocrisies.

Tenderness, a defining intelligence and the sting of real emotion characterize Hugh Hudson's elegant and ambitious 1984 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (ABC Thursday at 8:30 p.m.), which juxtaposes an enthralling vision of life in the jungle with a highly ironic view of British civilization. Christopher Lambert is wholly persuasive as the Scottish aristocrat, orphaned in the African jungle and raised by apes and subsequently returned to his ancestral castle presided over by his dotty grandfather (Ralph Richardson).

In Oceans of Fire (CBS Thursday at 9 p.m.), an efficient, average TV movie made in 1986, the macho world of offshore oil riggers is invaded first by a female documentary film maker (Cynthia Sikes) and then by a fiery catastrophe. Gregory Harrison, Billy Dee Williams and David Carradine star.

An elegant and engrossing thriller of the supernatural, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.) stars Michael Sarrazin as a young man overcome with the feeling that he has had a previous existence. A triumph of mood and atmosphere, set largely in New England, this 1975 release was adroitly adapted by Max Ehrlich from his own novel and admirably directed by J. Lee Thompson. Jennifer O'Neill and Margot Kidder co-star.

We of the Never Never (Channel 5 Saturday at 8 p.m.) is a stirring, old-fashioned frontier saga, at once innocent but also a mite prissy. Based on the memoirs of Mrs. Aeneas Gunn, a classic of Australian literature, it is set in the vast Australian Outback, to which Mrs. Gunn (Angela Punch McGregor) went in 1902 as the bride of a newly appointed manager of a cattle station never before visited by a white woman.

Bound for Glory (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.), that wonderful telling of wandering, unionizing minstrel Woody Guthrie and the hard times in which he lived, stars a perfectly cast David Carradine. Director Hal Ashby and writer Robert Getchell spent two years adapting Guthrie's biography, which revealed a man who knew himself well. Released in 1976, this is screen biography at its best, illuminating the making of the man and presenting a portrait of Depression America painted with an angry fidelity not seen since "The Grapes of Wrath."

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