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MOVIES OF THE WEEK

March 24, 1991|KEVIN THOMAS

What you never get from Brian De Palma's great-looking 1987 The Untouchables (CBS Sunday at 8:30 p.m.) is the sense of cumulative corrosion that must have overcome Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) in his implacable pursuit of Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Although Costner seems handcuffed in his straight Arrow collar hero role, De Niro and Sean Connery (as a veteran Chicago cop who becomes a father figure for Ness) are terrific and so are the film's two action set-pieces.

Dale Midkiff and Alex McArthur star in the new fact-based TV movie Shoot First: A Cop's Vengeance (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) as two police pals who become deadly enemies.

The Mirror Crack'd (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) is a witty, diverting 1980 adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery in which Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak are great fun as catty veteran stars alongside supporting players Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. (Look for Pierce Brosnan in a small role.)

Mazes and Monsters (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) is an impressive 1982 TV movie based on Rona Jaffe's novel about the effect of fantasy role-playing games on four college students. Tom Hanks stars.

Krull (Channel 11 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is that lethally ponderous 1983 sword-and-sorcery adventure, a sort of unsuccessful cross between "Star Wars" and "Excalibur," starring Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony.

High Spirits (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m., again on Saturday at 6 p.m.), a misfired piece of whimsy, finds impoverished Irish nobleman Peter O'Toole converting his castle into a ghostly theme park; actually, the place is haunted--by 200-years dead Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson.

A movie that deserved a kinder reception in 1985 is Ivan Passer's Creator (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.), a gentle tale about life, death and the love that surpasses both, with Peter O'Toole, Mariel Hemingway and Virginia Madsen. It has its sappy moments--but, at the same time, it has a rare, decent-hearted, idealistic romance.

The 1986 Inside Out (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.) offers the most astute, intense vision of the horror of agoraphobia imaginable. At its core is a truly riveting performance by Elliott Gould as a man, also addicted to gambling, who confines himself to his comfortable apartment off Central Park.

Franc Roddam does a crisp, direct job of telling a familiar story of corruption and racism in a Southern military academy in the 1983 The Lords of Discipline (Channel 13 Saturday at 6 p.m.), in which David Keith stars as a thoughtful, compassionate senior with a prickly sense of what's right. Mark Breland plays the institution's first black cadet--the year is 1964.

Liar's Moon (Channel 9 Saturday at 8 p.m.) is a modest little 1981 release which Matt Dillon does more for than it does for him; he's a poor Texas youth on the brink of manhood in a story of young love which unfortunately lapses into antique melodrama.

Although Sidney Lumet's 1986 thriller The Morning After (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) lacks breadth and depth, it does have Jane Fonda as a bleached, alcoholic over-the-hill starlet, Raul Julia as her estranged hairdresser-husband, and Jeff Bridges as a stranger who rescues Fonda at an airport.

Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is a relatively flat 1989 TV movie re-telling of the 58 1/2-hour effort to free a toddler from a narrow abandoned well in Midland, Tex., in 1987; no effort is made to interpret the incident as the media event it became.

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