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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

July 17, 1988|Kevin Thomas

The Sting (Channel 13 Sunday at 6 p.m.), that unalloyed 1973 delight, is a flawlessly crafted pure entertainment set in the '30s. Robert Redford and Paul Newman, first teamed in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," are respectively an up-and-coming con man and a legendary big-time con man on the skids who zero in on New York racketeer Robert Shaw.

The new TV movie Out of Time (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a time-travel comedy-adventure in which a 21st-Century policeman (Bruce Abbott) teams up with his own legendary crime-solving great-grandfather (Bill Maher) in the pursuit of a dangerous criminal.

The Bad Seed (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a decent 1985 TV version of the Maxwell Anderson play first filmed by the late Mervyn LeRoy in 1956. Blair Brown inherits the role of the anguished mother created memorably by Nancy Kelly on both stage and screen, and Carrie Wells has the tough job of following a scary Patty McCormack as the sinister 9-year-old daughter.

The 1984 Burning Bed (Channel 2 Monday at 9 p.m.) was a personal triumph for Farrah Fawcett, who in this fact-based story played a battered wife who finally struck back after years of abuse from her husband (Paul Le Mat).

One of the finest of all TV movies, the 1974 Execution of Private Slovik (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.) represents a distinguished collaboration between director Lamont Johnson and writers-producers Richard Levinson and William Link. It is a powerful testament with the aura of Greek tragedy that tells of a World War II soldier who became the only American executed for desertion since the Civil War. Martin Sheen stars.

Cat's Eye (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m., again on Saturday at 8 p.m.), a handsome 1985 film, is made up of three Stephen King tales linked by the wanderings of an exceptionally intelligent and intrepid alley cat. The second and best of the three episodes has a classic man-on-the-ledge sequence and the third was written especially for irrepressible Drew Barrymore.

Stick (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is based on a gem of an Elmore Leonard story about an ex-con who finds himself completely out of step with the world after years on the inside. Unfortunately, it ended up on the screen (in 1985) as a jokey, flaccid and deadly slow vehicle for Burt Reynolds.

Adam (Channel 2 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a compelling 1983 TV movie based on a true incident. At once crushing and rewarding, it is about the abduction of a 6-year-old Florida boy. JoBeth Williams and Daniel J. Travanti are exceptional as his anguished parents.

The Star Chamber (Channel 11 Thursday at 8 p.m.), a thriller that exploits as it protests the quality of contemporary justice, takes its title from the special court founded by Henry VII in 1487 that was empowered to hold secret sessions without a jury. The premise of this 1983 Peter Hyams film is that, because dangerous criminal suspects may escape conviction on technicalities, nine Los Angeles Superior Court judges have formed a secret Star Chamber to take the law into their own hands. As farfetched as this notion may seem, Hyams and co-writer Roderick Taylor might have put it over as an allegory for our times had they concentrated more on sustaining credibility than in rabble-rousing. Michael Douglas stars.

Phar Lap (Channel 11 Friday at 8 p.m.), which means lightning in Siamese, is the name of a scrawny New Zealand-born racing horse who became a champion and an underdog hero to Depression-ridden Australians. Most likely, youngsters will identify with the stalwart stable boy (Tom Burlinson) who becomes closest to Phar Lap (played by a wonderful horse named Towering Inferno). For adults, writer David Williamson has provided an acrid view of the world of racing that ballasts the film's inherent sentimentality.

The 1982 Some Kind of Hero (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) gave Richard Pryor a long-deserved solid starring role as a returning Vietnam vet, one of the longest-held POWs, who must deal with the overwhelming repercussions of his signing a Viet Cong "confession" in order to obtain care for his desperately ill buddy (Ray Sharkey). Amid the comic aspects of the massive absurdities that threaten to engulf him, there's serious comment on the plight of all returning Vietnam vets. Unfortunately, this 1982 film is a highly uneven and underdeveloped movie that falls apart at the finish. Still, if you watch it for Pryor alone you won't be shortchanged. He is by turns tender, hilarious, thoughtful, sexy, scared and deadly efficient. Margot Kidder co-stars.

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