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Prime-Time Flicks

March 13, 1994|Kevin Thomas

Kenneth Branagh's giddy, whirling dervish of a movie, Dead Again (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), serves as a stylish and witty sonnet to the ghosts of Hollywood past. This 1991 release is a past-lives thriller in which metaphysical questions about karma and fate play as important a role as motive and murder. Branagh, who co-stars with his wife Emma Thompson, has the ability to create a film to match the ones in his memory and at the same time infuse it with a distinctly modern sensibility and sense of fun. In the full-color present, Thompson suffers from amnesia but drags herself to the mansion where, in 1949, an English concert pianist (also Thompson) met her violent death.

An Innocent Man (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.), a cautionary thriller about an unjustly imprisoned airline mechanic, has a chance to be a canny blend of gutsy melodrama and "J'Accuse" against the prison system. But, by the end, it has gone as slick and corrupt as the crafty old con (F. Murray Abraham) who advises Tom Selleck's framed Jimmie Rainwood on jail survival. On a fundamental moral level, this 1989 picture is guilty as hell.

Francis Ford Coppola's 1986 Peggy Sue Got Married (KTLA Monday at 8 p.m.) is one of the director's best, an irresistible nostalgic fantasy in which small-town girl Kathleen Turner, on the eve of her 25th high school reunion, is propelled back in time a quarter of a century but her contemporary awareness remains intact.

Dead Silence (KTTV Monday at 8 p.m.), a 1991 TV movie, is a taut, all-too-human tale about the lengths to which best friends will go to save their skins. Renee Estevez, Lisanne Falk and Carrie Mitchum star as three co-eds jolted by a desert highway accident.

John Malkovich has his moments in Making Mr. Right (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.). In a dual-role challenge, he plays a very square scientist who replicates himself as an android, capable of being modeled into the ideal man for the contemporary woman. However, this 1987 Susan Seidelman satire is more a miss than a hit.

Coogan's Bluff (KTLA Saturday at 6 p.m.) stars Clint Eastwood in a full-throttled action-adventure in which an Arizona lawman chases a fugitive through the wilds of Manhattan. This 1968 film was a chance but fortuitous teaming of Eastwood and director Don Siegel, who would direct the star four more times and influence Eastwood's second career as a director himself.

The Eiger Sanction (KTLA Saturday at 8 p.m.) is a splendid 1975 high adventure, done with much wit and style. It finds Eastwood--who also directed--scaling a virtually perpendicular mountain in the Swiss Alps as part of an international team of climbers. One of the climbers happens to be a spy for the "other side" who has stolen a formula for germ warfare, and Eastwood's the professional assassin out to get him.

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