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June 30, 1991|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's a mini, maxi, movie summer on the networks.

Over the next two months, ABC, CBS and NBC will be dusting off a number of TV films and miniseries from seasons past.

NBC kicks off the journey back in time tonight with the 1988 Emmy-winning remake of "Inherit the Wind," based on the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920s, in which Clarence Darrow defended and William Jennings Bryan prosecuted a schoolteacher's right to teach Darwin's theory of evolution.

Based on a hit play in the 1950s by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, "Inherit the Wind" was originally filmed in 1960 with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March as the battling attorneys. Kirk Douglas and Jason Robards star in the NBC version, which was directed by David Greene and produced by Douglas' son, Peter. Jean Simmons, who played Douglas' wife in "Spartacus," co-stars as his wife again.

Also up tonight is ABC's three-part 1987 miniseries "Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story," which is long on romance, action, lace bodices, sumptuous sets and lavish costumes, but short on compelling dialogue and historical accuracy. It isn't Abel Gance's 1927 landmark "Napoleon."

Meredith Baxter received strong reviews for her performance in the 1988 NBC drama "Winnie," repeating Monday. In the fact-based film, Baxter plays a woman who has been institutionalized for 30 years and is determined to prove she can live on the outside. David Morse ("St. Elsewhere") also stars.

CBS is reprising two miniseries this week. Strictly escapist fare is 1988's four-hour thriller "The Windmills of the Gods," airing Monday and Tuesday, based on Sidney Sheldon's best-seller. Jaclyn Smith and Robert Wagner star in this lushly produced bit of nonsense about an American ambassador (Smith) in Europe who discovers she's the target of assassins. The mini does feature a classy supporting cast: Franco Nero, Christopher Cazenove, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Tony-winner Ian McKellen ("Amadeus") and Ruby Dee.

A tad more grounded in reality is 1986's "The Last Frontier," airing Friday and Saturday.

Linda Evans stars as a California woman with two teen-agers who marries an Australian widower (Jack Thompson) with two daughters. Arriving at his Outback ranch, she learns he's been killed in a plane crash and she must now raise his two children and fight to save the ranch from a neighboring land baron (Robards, again).

Next week, Sunday-Wednesday, NBC repeats 1988's "James Clavell's Noble House," eight hours of romance, action, intrigue and, frequently, boredom set in modern-day Hong Kong. Pierce Brosnan, the late John Houseman, Deborah Raffin, John Rhys-Davies ("Shogun") and Julia Nickson star. Don't expect "Shogun II."

Later in the summer: NBC reprises the 1989 mystery "Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson" on July 14. Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale, of course, star.

Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher, recent Tony winner Kevin Spacey and Richard Jordan star in the repeat of NBC's 1988 Emmy-winning "The Murder of Mary Phagan," airing July 21-22.

"Inherit the Wind" airs tonight at 9 on NBC. "Napoleon and Josephine" airs tonight-Tuesday at 9 p.m. "Winnie" airs Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC. "The Windmills of the Gods" airs Monday-Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS. "The Last Frontier" airs Friday at 9 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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