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Prime-Time Flicks

October 18, 1992|KEVIN THOMAS

Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 The Big Chill (KCOP Sunday at 6 p.m.) is a deft, witty and marvelously entertaining 1983 film about a reunion of seven baby boomers (apparently all onetime campus radicals) brought about by the suicide of the eighth member, a brilliant dropout. Since the seven are played by William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, JoBeth Williams and Mary Kay Place, it's hardly surprising they engage us--but equally surprising is how little substance the film finally has.

While ostensibly sorting out the question of whether men and women can be friends, before or after sex enters the picture, the 1989 summer hit When Harry Met Sally ... (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is actually casting a hopeful and persuasive eye on romance today, even on marriage. The question becomes whether Sally (Meg Ryan) and Harry (Billy Crystal) can, over the span of an 11-year friendship, at last fall in love. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron, this is a film of wit on a bedrock of tenderness.

Susan Seidelman's endearingly hilarious 1985 Desperately Seeking Susan (KCOP Tuesday at 8 p.m.) stars Rosanna Arquette as a repressed New Jersey housewife who, after a conk on the head, winds up assuming the identity of freewheeling, lush-looking Madonna (in a sensational film debut).

The Josephine Baker Story (KCOP Wednesday at 8 p.m.) has given the legendary entertainer--the rage of '20s Paris, French Resistance heroine, civil rights activist--the royal treatment she so richly deserves. This 1991 HBO production is highlighted by a knockout portrayal by a perfectly cast Lynn Whitfield.

David Leland's rapturously good 1987 Wish You Were Here (CBS Saturday at 8:30 p.m.) stars Emily Lloyd as a 15-year-old who loves to turn her staid neighbors on their ears in her somnolent English town--the year is 1951. Lloyd's performance is one of those extraordinary fusions of actress and character that defy you to pry them apart. Her Lynda is a diabolically tricky role; we must love her, put up with her flamboyance, watch her throw herself at horrifyingly unsuitable men, understand her motives and cherish her--all at the same time. It is to Leland and his young star's credit that our affection never wavers for an instant.

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