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November 12, 1989|KEVIN THOMAS

Wolfgang Petersen's The Neverending Story (Channel 13 Sunday at 6 p.m.) is a shimmering, glorious adventure, a beguiling enchantment with a revolutionary message: The most important world is the inner one. It is the fortress of our dreams and hopes and can be reached only through books. That interior world (a real kingdom, called Fantasia in the film) is "all we have to set against reality." The hero of this 1984 film is a solemn 10-year-old (Barret Oliver) who has just lost his mother and who under suspiciously magical circumstances comes into the possession of an amazing book, "The Neverending Story," which draws him--and us--into high adventure.

The Return of Sam McCloud (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie, finds Dennis Weaver's maverick marshal now a senator caught up in a fight to protect the environment against chemical pollution.

Manhunt: The Search for the Night Stalker (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), another new TV movie, tells of two Los Angeles police detectives leading the search for serial killer Richard Ramirez. Richard Jordan and A. Martinez star.

The 1986 release Iron Eagle (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) achieves a kind of perfection of preposterous awfulness that only earnest effort can produce. Jason Gedrick plays the adoring 18-year-old son of a jet-fighter pilot who's shot down and taken prisoner by a fictional Middle Eastern country--read Libya--while on a routine reconnaissance mission. When our government hesitates to intervene, Gedrick takes matters into his own hands with the help of a crusty retired Air Force colonel (Louis Gossett Jr.).

Extremities (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) was a stage triumph for Farrah Fawcett, but on screen it seems morbid and contrived as rape victim Fawcett manages to turn tables on her attacker (James Russo).

Cast the First Stone (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie, is also about the victim of rape, in this instance, a school teacher and former Catholic novice (Jill Eikenberry) who is raped and left pregnant by a hitchhiker.

Blade Runner (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) takes place in the used-up future: Los Angeles 2019, a dense and ominous metropolis. Director Ridley Scott has made a sensational-looking film that combines film noir and sci-fi to probe a highly dangerous world in which it's hard to tell who's human and who's a replicant, a robot that turns deadly when it becomes defective. One who can tell the difference is ex-cop bounty hunter Harrison Ford. But that's all there is to it, and the film is pretty hollow, great as it looks.

The Godfather, Francis Coppola's glorious gangster epic from the Mario Puzo novel, is back on Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m., with the conclusion airing Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Milos Forman's film of Ken Kesey's mental asylum tragicomedy One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) strains credibility at the climax--why don't the guys cut out when they get a chance?--but Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher (Oscar winners both) are memorable as the ribald, cagey inmate and the calmly but determinedly destructive nurse he dares to defy.

Predator (Channel 11 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is familiar, mindless macho fare with Arnold Schwarzenegger cast as a killing machine, heading a military rescue unit in the jungle of a nameless Latin American country and coming up against an evil alien.

In Walter Hill's smart, rambunctious 48 HRS. (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.), Eddie Murphy made his smash 1982 film debut as a slick con man on a two-day leave to help San Francisco police detective Nick Nolte nail one of Murphy's cohorts. Fun but ultra-violent.

The whimsical and poignant Back to the Future (NBC Friday at 8 p.m.) finds small-town youth Michael J. Fox accidentally sent back 30 years, where, to his chagrin, he discovers that his mother is crazy about him rather than his own father.

Channel 28 will premiere two foreign films Friday, Letters From the Park (at9 p.m.) and Massey Sahib (at 11 p.m.), neither of which has had a theatrical release.

On Saturday at 10 p.m., Channel 28 will present Harold Lloyd's classic Safety Last.

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