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Movies of The Week

December 25, 1988|Kevin Thomas

The Little Match Girl (NBC Sunday at 8 p.m.), a 1987 TV movie, is a saccharine version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, updated to the 1920s and starring Keshia Knight Pulliam (of "The Cosby Show") as the waif who charms a rich family.

Going My Way (Channel 5 Sunday at 8 p.m.) is the evergreen 1944 Leo McCarey story about a priest (Bing Crosby) having to charm both his crusty superior (Barry Fitgerald) and a street gang.

The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) is more seasonal sentimentality, but it is lifted by the fine performances of Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury and Polly Holliday. Remick plays a troubled woman finding sustenance in the memory of her deceased family.

From the start, it's clear that the cast of the 1984 Cannonball Run II (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is having fun, but not so those of us watching this puerile nonsense. Once again Burt Reynolds and sidekick Dom DeLuise have entered that maverick cross-country race, which this time has a $1-million stake, thanks to sheik Jamie Farr, who's also competing.

Barry Levinson's star-making 1982 Diner (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.), a fresh and honest recapturing of our past, rescues our memories of the '50s and early '60s from the high gloss that TV has put on them and lets them stand, tender and real. The film takes its title from a hangout in Baltimore for recent high school grads Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and Daniel Stern (who's married to Ellen Barkin). They are leading an existence on the edge of desperation that is just making itself felt.

George Lucas' delightful 1985 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (ABC Monday at 8 p.m.) brings back the mischievous furry creatures in another adventure in which a young girl (Aubree Miller), her Ewok friend (Warwick Davis) and a hermit (Wilford Brimley) embark on a dangerous mission to rescue an Ewok family held captive by a fearsome king.

My Little Chickadee (Channel 11 Monday at 8 p.m.) really isn't all that inspired as a comedy-Western, but this 1940 release is a classic anyway, thanks to its famous teaming of Mae West's shady lady and W. C. Fields' consummate con man.

Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story (CBS Monday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie biography with Michael Nouri in the title role as the former all-star football player who developed Lou Gehrig's disease at 30 but went on to coach a high school team to victory. Pam Dawber plays his wife.

Miracle at Beekman's Place (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) is another new TV movie, about a hospital chief of staff who quits his job to open an inner-city storefront clinic. Scoey Mitchlll and Robert Costanzo star.

The 1985 St. Elmo's Fire (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) wants us to love its Super-charged Seven (Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Mare Winningham and Andrew McCarthy), best friends just graduated from college and now taking their first steps in the outside world, but its writer Joel Schumacher and director Carl Kurlander don't let us. Instead of real people, they've created fast-moving, thoughtless, upscale wise guys.

A most unconventional war movie, yet full of the noise of battle, the 1970 Patton (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m., completed Thursday at 8 p.m.) is extraordinary for its mix of action and deft illumination of an amazingly complex man, brought to proud, robust life unforgettably by George C. Scott.

Daniel Vigne's superb and constantly surprising 1982 The Return of Martin Guerre (Channel 28 Wednesday at 9 p.m.), set in rural 16th-Century France, stars Gerard Depardieu as a returning, long-absent husband and Nathalie Baye as his enigmatic wife. Unexpectedly the film turns into a mystery whose unraveling becomes a contemplation of human nature.

Hornet's Nest (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a taut 1970 Phil Karlson World War II adventure starring Rock Hudson and Sylva Koscina.

Friday brings repeats of those hardy if very different perennials: The Sound of Music (NBC at 8 p.m.) and Midnight Cowboy (Channel 13 at 8 p.m.).

Even with the dual talents of Christopher Reeve and Richard Pryor, Superman III (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) has about half the invention, the sparkle and the originality that you might hope for.

The ratings checks on movies in the TV log are provided by the Tribune TV Log listings service.

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