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June 30, 1991|KEVIN THOMAS

The 1988 TV movie version of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's 1955 play Inherit the Wind (NBC tonight at 9), based on the famous 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," is as timely as ever--if uneven dramatically. Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas are a fine pair of battling warriors as Henry Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady, respectively. Brady is based on fiery orator William Jennings Bryan, who helped prosecute Thomas Scopes, the 24-year-old Tennessee high school teacher charged with teaching the theory of evolution in the classroom; Drummond is based on famed attorney Clarence Darrow, who defended Scopes.

In Breaking Point (Channel 5, Monday at 8 p.m.), an abundantly stylish 1989 TNT cable movie remake of the 1964 film "36 Hours," an American intelligence officer (Corbin Bernsen), carrying vital knowledge about the Allies' planned invasion of Normandy, is captured and tortured by the Nazis. He wakes up in an American military hospital in Germany and learns the war has been over for two years. Or has it. . . ? The finish is somewhat flawed but the getting there is fun; with Joanna Pacula.

K-9000 (Channel 11, Monday at 8 p.m.), a new TV movie, is an action film about a savvy maverick cop (Chris Mulkey) who teams with a beautiful research scientist (Catherine Oxenberg) to rescue her creation: a canine with a computer-enhanced brain.

A stylish but extremely violent 1975 revenge melodrama, Framed (Channel 13, Monday at 8 p.m.) stars Joe Don Baker as the owner of a nightclub in a small Southern town who is also a high-stakes gambler; he's railroaded into prison for having shot a deputy sheriff in self-defense. The film was directed by the late Phil Karlson, who also directed Baker in the similar "Walking Tall."

Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders (NBC, Monday at 9 p.m.) is a routine 1989 TV movie in which George Peppard reprises his role as Frank Doakey, rough, tough L.A. cop, circa 1945, that he created in the first "Man Against the Mob." This time he has to deal with fellow cops on the take in relation to the Chinatown rackets.

Can it be possible: a Sherlock Holmes who's quite literally Without a Clue (Channel 13, Tuesday at 8 p.m., again on Friday at 10 a.m.)? That's the sturdy and amusing premise of this bubbling 1988 British comedy, which casts Holmes as the dolt rather than his loyal friend Dr. Watson. Seems that Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the creator of Sherlock Holmes, writing up his exploits in the Strand magazine and hiring a third-rate actor (Michael Caine) to impersonate the ace detective.

The notion behind the 1988 Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (NBC, Friday at 9 p.m.) seems to introduce the erstwhile TV horror pictures hostess in a movie as rotten as the worst flick she has ever presented on the tube. Too bad, because Elvira is a kind of punk Mae West crossed with Vampira, her TV predecessor.

One of the most beautiful epic Westerns and most influential films of all time--and one of the finest films of both John Wayne and John Ford--The Searchers (Channel 13, Saturday at 6 p.m.) is the classic trek movie in which Wayne embarks on a years-long odyssey in search of his niece (Natalie Wood), captured by Indians.

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