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Movies to Tape

March 31, 1991

The Sisters (TNT Friday at 7 a.m.) is one of Bette Davis' lesser-known major films, an absorbing 1938 drama set in San Francisco just after the turn of the century and centering on three sisters (Davis, Anita Louise and Jane Bryan). It lingers in the memory, however, for Errol Flynn's poignant ne'er-do-well husband to Davis. Followed by two more outstanding Davis films: "The Old Maid" (at 9 a.m.) and "The Letter" (at 11 a.m.).

Phar Lap (Channel 9 Saturday at 8 p.m.), which means "lightning" in Siamese, is the name of a scrawny New Zealand-born race horse who became a champion and an underdog hero to Depression-ridden Australians. Most likely, youngsters will identify with the stalwart stable boy (Tom Burlinson) who becomes closest to the horse. For adults, writer David Williamson has provided an acrid view of the world of racing that ballasts the 1983 film's inherent sentimentality.

Mephisto (Channel 28 Saturday at 9 p.m.): Istvan Szabo's dazzling 1981 Oscar winner in which a bravura actor (a brilliant Klaus Maria Brandauer), whose most famous role is Mephistopheles, sells his soul in return for stardom in Nazi Germany. Based on a novel by Klaus Mann and inspired by the life of the distinguished actor Gustav Grundgens.

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