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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

December 17, 1989|Kevin Thomas

Jill Clayburgh and Stephen Macht star in the new TV movie Fear Stalk (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.), in which a madman turns a TV producer's life upside down when he steals her credit cards and notebooks.

Desperado: Badlands Justice (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is the latest in a series of TV movie Westerns starring Alex McArthur as roving cowboy Duell McCall, who this time takes on two corrupt businessmen (John Rhys-Davies, James B. Sikking).

My Brother's Wife (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.), yet another new TV movie, stars John Ritter as a prankish man who pursues his own sister-in-law (Mel Harris) for almost 30 years.

Playwright Paul Zindel's new adaptation of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (NBC Monday at 8 p.m.) finds schoolgirl Keshia Knight Pulliam waking up in Camelot after she falls from a horse.

Despite a sometimes rickety TV movie plot, I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) boasts intense and convincing performances from Jill Clayburgh as a TV documentarian hooked on Valium and from Nicol Williamson as the ominous man in her life.

At the recent private memorial to Bette Davis, James Woods spoke of the lasting impact upon him of the "naked emotion" Davis expressed in one of her most popular pictures, the 1942 Now, Voyager (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.). The film is often regarded as high-grade soap opera yet amazingly potent still, thanks to Davis' vulnerable and selfless performance as the repressed Boston spinster Charlotte Vale rescued by her suave psychiatrist (Paul Henried), who figures in the film's memorable cigarette lighting scene.

The Christmas Gift (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is an all-too-typical Yuletide TV movie, a simplistic and manipulative tale which asks us to believe that of all people John Denver, cast as an architect for a major New York development company, would consider selling out a quaint Colorado mountain town to build a condominium-packed ski resort.

Yet another of the many seasonal--and colorized--airings of It's a Wonderful Life comes along in a three-hour presentation on Channel 5 Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) won Ellen Burstyn a 1975 Oscar for her fine portrayal of a vital, 35-year-old widow pulling up stakes in a dreary Oklahoma town and commencing a cross-country odyssey in search of a new life for her and her precocious son. "Alice" wavers between the convincingly sordid and the improbably romantic but even so is a winning film.

Don't expect much Yuletide spirit in A Christmas Story (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.). Reportedly, Bob Clark, director of "Porky's," had for years wanted to make a film of humorist Jean Shepherd's short story, "The Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid." The result is a kind of grade-school "Porky's" minus the raunchiness. There's little of Shepherd's legendary subversive humor is what is essentially a sitcom set in the late '30s starring little Peter Billingsley, who dreams of owning an elaborate rifle; Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are his parents.

The 1951 version of Damon Runyon's The Lemon Drop Kid (Channel 11 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is one of Bob Hope's best pictures, in which he plays a race track habitue in big debt to a gangster.

Young Pioneers' Christmas (Channel 11 Friday at 8 p.m.) and A Very Brady Christmas (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.) are standard series reunion movies, and the 1985 theatrical feature Santa Claus (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is also routine fare in which Santa (David Huddleston) and an elf (Dudley Moore) battle with John Lithgow's greedy toy manufacturer.

Meanwhile, Channel 28 is offering Fanny and Alexander (Saturday at 10 p.m.), Ingmar Bergman's great 1983 farewell to the screen, a three-hour turn-of-the-century family saga centering on two children--a brother and sister--whose happy existence is swiftly terminated when their widowed mother remarries.

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

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