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Prime-Time Flicks

January 23, 1994|Chris Willman

It's long been a cliche to gripe about "car chase" movies--when it's actually been a long time since anyone really attempted one. Seventies revivalists will be happy that the genre's commercial apex, Smokey and the Bandit (KTLA Tuesday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.), is back for another wheelie. Wistfully relive those days when CB radios--not E-mail--were America's trendiest semi-personal communication, and when Burt Reynolds--not Ice-T--represented state-of-the-art law-defiance.

That spotty 1977 comedy spawned two awful official sequels. Get ready for a third with the brand-new Bandit: Must Be Country (KTLA Wednesday at 8 p.m.), from Hal Needham, the stuntman-turned-director responsible for the first couple of "Smokey" movies. It's Burt-less, of course; Brian Bloom steps in as the new trucker who can't drive 55.

Run (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a 1990 vehicle for Patrick Dempsey to be on the sprint, but from mobsters, not the law, after he accidentally kills the son of a local gang lord. Forgettable, but fast enough to cover a multitude of sins, it's MTV meets "The Wrong Man." Kelly Preston provides the complementary good looks.

The 1986 Tough Guys (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.) gets by as a rousing tribute to Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, cast as a pair of veteran bank robbers, but isn't quite tough enough for non-sentimentalists to chew on.

Don't be fooled by the title: Titicut Follies (KCET Friday at 11 p.m.) is a harrowing documentary, briefly seen in 1967 and then suppressed for a quarter-century before getting a hailed theatrical re-release. Frederick Wiseman's black-and-white visit to a Massachusetts mental hospital unveiled abuse and negligence so shocking a judge ordered all negatives and prints destroyed on the basis of privacy violation. Fortunately, cooler heads, and, one presumes, better institutional conditions--have since prevailed.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) wasn't the last film comedy Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder would team up for. There was one more after this 1989 effort, but this was the last funny one and having Arthur Hiller (who first matched the duo in "Silver Streak" at the helm helped. A few disability-related activist groups objected to the high jinx of Pryor's blind and Wilder's deaf heroes as they lean on each other's senses to solve the murder they're accused of, but the humor is far more sweet than demeaning.

The Wind (KCET Saturday at 10:30 p.m.) is a spectacular way to wind up the week, albeit pre-sound-era spectacle. Lillian Gish stars in this landmark 1928 silent film as a virtuous young woman stranded without means in a Dust Bowl town. She has plenty of trouble with men and, of course, the elements. Repression and volatility prevail: There's rape, murder and a climactic dust storm that couldn't be better if it were in Surround Sound.

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