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October 01, 1989|KEVIN THOMAS

Gideon's Trumpet (Channel 9 Sunday at 8 p.m.), an outstanding 1980 TV movie, tells how an obscure Florida convict (Henry Fonda) drastically changed the course of American legal history.

Elia Kazan's The Last Tycoon (Channel 13 Sunday at 8 p.m.) is a luminous, ambitious but only fitfully alive adaptation (by Harold Pinter) of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished Hollywood novel. Robert De Niro is wonderful as the extraordinarily complex, subtle and perceptive Monroe Stahr, whom Fitzgerald based on Irving Thalberg.

Vying for audiences Sunday at 9 p.m. are the new TV movie Night Walk (CBS), a mystery-drama with Robert Urich and Lesley-Anne Down; a new TV movie version of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth (NBC), with Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Harmon, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (ABC), a hugely popular, if less inspired and overdone, sequel to "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Harrison Ford again stars.

The Bounty (Channel 9 Sunday at 10 p.m.) suffers structurally from having been planned as two separate films that ended up compressed into one, but it nevertheless ends up a robust, pictorially glorious adventure under Roger Donaldson's direction. Anthony Hopkins' hard-pressed rather than all-out-evil Captain Bligh is more memorable than Mel Gibson's Fletcher Christian.

That's Entertainment! (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) skims off the creamier delights from more than 40 years of MGM musicals. Its nearly-as-good sequel airs Tuesday at 8.

A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie starring Nancy McKeon as an actual abused Connecticut wife who fought back.

Barbra Streisand made a notable directorial debut with Yentl (Channel 5 Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.), a warm, loving adaptation of the Isaac Bashevis Singer story about a young Eastern European Jewish woman (Streisand) who, at the turn of the century, dresses as a man in order to get an education. There are pleasant Marilyn and Alan Bergman songs, a beautiful Michel Legrand score and splendid supporting performances from Mandy Patinkin and Amy Irving.

Sleek when it should be dangerous, Bob Rafelson's 1987 Black Widow (Channel 11 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) intrigues but finally disappoints, despite brilliant performances by Debra Winger as an FBI agent and Theresa Russell as an irresistible (and lethal) young seductress with whom Winger becomes obsessed.

All Night Long (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a sharp fable advocating changing everything in mid-life. Gene Hackman is terrific as a drugstore chain executive who gets buried on the late shift at one of the company's all-night stores. It takes a while to accept Barbra Streisand in a subordinate role as a suburban swinger.

Urban Cowboy (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) documents life at Gilley's, the saloon near Houston where factory workers go dressed as cowboys to ride a mechanical bull. The 1980 film is rambunctious, macho and uneven. John Travolta is winning as a farm boy who goes to the big city to get an oil-rigging job, and the film shows off the talent of then-newcomer Debra Winger as Travolta's wife and Scott Glenn, lean and menacing as the local villain.

Loni Ding's The Color of Honor (Channel 28 Thursday at 10 p.m.) is the most comprehensive study to date of the Japanese-American experience during World War II. Ding focuses on the crucial, little-known role that 6,000 Japanese-Americans played in the Pacific-Asia theater as interrogators and translators in the U.S. Military Intelligence.

More Streisand on Channel 5: Funny Lady (Channel 5 Friday at 7:30 p.m.), the so-so sequel to "Funny Girl."

Coma (Channel 5 Saturday at 8 p.m.), a scary 1978 suspense-thriller, stars Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas as doctors at a big-city hospital where patients are mysteriously dying and disappearing.

Kurt Russell impresses in The Mean Season (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) as a Miami reporter who confronts himself in the pursuit of a serial killer.

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

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