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Prime-Time Flicks

December 01, 1991|KEVIN THOMAS

By far the best of the body change comedies of recent years, the 1988 hit Big (ABC tonight at 9) manages to be funny, warm, sophisticated and imaginative from start to finish. It's also a personal success for Tom Hanks, playing a 30-year-old trapped in a 13-year-old's body.

The 1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is as much a spiritual odyssey as a space adventure, and it's all the richer for it. It has high adventure, nifty special effects and much good humor, but it also has a wonderful mellow resonance to it, thanks to William Shatner as director and co-writer as well as Capt. James T. Kirk. Guest star is Laurence Luckinbill, in a full-bodied, mesmerizing Shakespearean turn as Spock's half-brother Sybok, a rebel against the cool logic of his people who impiously wants "to meet God."

Oliver Stone's 1988 Talk Radio (KTLA Wednesday at 8 p.m., again next Sunday at 2 a.m.) makes you laugh, makes you mad and keeps you on edge watching for the killers in the shadows. Eric Bogosian stars in this savagely audacious movie of his play that is a dip into the dangerous games played between a performer and his audience, a society and its malcontents and the medium of radio and the faceless voices it broadcasts. The film was inspired by the fate of controversial Denver talk-show host Alan Berg.

In the 1967 Hour of the Gun (KTTV Wednesday at 8 p.m.) director John Sturges took up where his classic "Gunfight at the OK Corral" left off. In this thoughtful, rather than engaging, depiction of the downbeat aftermath of the historic 1881 shootout, so symbolic a portent of the death of the Old West, James Garner takes over for Burt Lancaster's Wyatt Earp and Jason Robards replaces Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday; unfortunately, neither seems larger than life.

The current "Man in the Moon" has heralded a terrific comeback for director Robert Mulligan, but in 1968 he did another important "moon" movie--The Stalking Moon (KCOP Saturday at 8 p.m.), a Western of exceptional beauty and suspense and spare eloquence in which Gregory Peck (whom Mulligan directed to an Oscar in "To Kill a Mockingbird") plays an Army scout who extends a helping hand to a white woman (Eve Marie Saint), long held captive by the Apaches.

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