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Prime-Time Flicks

September 05, 1993|Kevin Thomas

A Son's Promise (KABC Sunday at 9 p.m.), a 1990 TV movie, is an impressive family survival story with a Dickensian twist: the mother dies, the boozing father hits the road, and the kids--seven brothers--are left to fend for themselves. Based on a true story and starring Rick Schroder as the eldest son, who's 15. Directed by John Korty.

In terms of simple, roof-rattling fright, Steven Spielberg's 1982 Poltergeist (KTLA Monday at 7:30 p.m.) gives full value, but it's a case of an incredulous story weighed down by lavish special effects. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are a likable couple who move into a nice tract house with their kids only to be confronted with awesome supernatural horrors.

Palomino (KNBC Monday at 9 p.m.) is a vapid, tepid and transparently cynical 1991 TV adaptation of a Danielle Steel tear-jerker about a scorned wife (Lindsay Frost) who finds renewed romance out West with Lee Horsley's Marlboro-dude cowboy.

In the 1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side (KTLA Tuesday at 8 p.m.), the same family is suffering from something far worse than supernatural terrors: the inevitable sequel. They're pretty much put through the same scary paces but without the urgency of the original.

Psycho (KTLA Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic, adapted from Robert Bloch's novel, in which Anthony Perkins plays the motel manager with a severe mother fixation. The 1988 film version of the funny-frightening novel of the same name, Bright Lights, Big City (KTLA Saturday at 8 p.m.) bottoms out spectacularly into a pretty-looking movie--possibly because Jay McInerney did the screenplay and also because Michael J. Fox, although rightly puppyish and charming, isn't able to express the experience of a real epiphany during the course of the film. In any event, Fox's upscale Jamie experiences the unraveling of his life in one crucial week, during which he ingests every controlled or damaging substance except furniture polish.

The outstanding 1988 Stand and Deliver (KCET Saturday at 8 p.m.) has Edward James Olmos as Garfield High's mesmerizing calculus teacher Jaime Escalante, who's able to inspire a group of borderline dropouts.

The 1992 TV movie Miss America: Behind the Crown (KNBC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is a turgid, autobiographical tale about the 1992 Miss America Carolyn Sapp, who is too inexperienced an actress to play even herself, and her tormented relationship with her abusive boyfriend (well played by Ray Bumatai).

MOVIES TO TAPE

Under the Volcano (A&E Sunday at 5 p.m.) is John Huston's atmospheric film of the celebrated Malcolm Lowry novel. It stars Albert Finney as a minor British diplomat hitting the skids in Mexico. With Jacqueline Bisset.

Becky Sharp (AMC Tuesday at 4 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.) is Rouben Mamoulian's elegant and stylish 1935 film of Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," starring Miriam Hopkins in the title role. This is the first film shot in three-strip Technicolor.

Go Tell the Spartans (Cinemax Thursday at 4:15 a.m.) is noted for being one of the first (1978) and best films to deal with Vietnam head-on; directed by Ted Post and starring Burt Lancaster.

Journey of Hope (Cinemax Thursday at 6:30 a.m.) is Swiss filmmaker Xavier Koller's harrowing, blistering Oscar-winning account of a group of Turks risking their lives to enter Switzerland.

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