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Prime-Time Flicks

July 17, 1994|Kevin Thomas

In the early 1980s Chicago's finest were found to be riddled with corruption in a headline-making police scandal that began with a murder cover-up and stretched from cops on the beat to downtown magistrates to the door of the police chief himself. The gripping, two-part, four-hour 1992 Deadly Matrimony (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m., concluding Monday at 9 p.m.) peels off the layers of venality that poisoned Chicago's South Side until a dogged police sergeant named Jack Reed (Brian Dennehy) uncovered enough evidence to throw the bums in jail. Central to the case is the soured fairy-tale marriage of a powerful attorney (Treat Williams).

Alan Parker's intense, fictionalized Mississippi Burning (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) emphasizes the clash between two very different FBI agents (Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman) investigating the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers at the expense of the heroic struggle for justice and equality waged by blacks themselves.

David S. Ward's 1991 King Ralph (KTTV Monday at 8 p.m.) is about a lovable boor at a royal tea party, but there's no real boorishness in it, little royalty and not much love either. Playing like a shameless commercial venture gone expensively sour, it's an empty, puffed-up blob of a comedy in which John Goodman plays a Vegas cocktail lounge pianist elevated to the throne of England when a photographic accident wipes out the Royal Family. Unfortunately, Peter O'Toole and John Hurt are trashed along with Goodman.

A high-energy futuristic 1987 sci-fi thriller about murderous TV game shows, The Running Man (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) has a comic-book savagery that sometimes undercuts its own ideas about the brutalizing aspects of the mass media. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a cop turned fugitive.

The Teen Wolf (KCOP Thursday at 8 p.m.) of the film's title is Michael J. Fox, who plays a werewolf. It's a monstrously forced and unfunny comedy of modern-day lycanthropy, blood, basketball and babes: a Rod Daniel-directed fiasco that mysteriously caught on in 1985, a bad year for movies.

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (KCOP Saturday at 6 p.m.) is cursed with a story involving two American soldiers (Michael Dudikoff, Steve James) transferred to a tropical isle in the clutches of a megalomaniacal drug czar; it is all so preposterous that nothing short of mutiny could make it work.

The combination of director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood is potent enough that the 1971 Dirty Harry (KCOP Saturday at 8 p.m.) has become a classic example of the kind of rabble-rousing film you ought to hate but find hard to resist. Eastwood's Harry is that scrappy San Francisco cop not about to take the law into his own hands in order to try to nab a Zodiac-like killer.

KCET's Saturday night Southern-drama double feature is Fred Zinnemann's acclaimed 1952 film of Carson McCuller's The Member of the Wedding (at 9 p.m.), with Ethel Waters, Julie Harris and Brandon De Wilde, and The Fugitive Kind, Sidney Lumet's uneven 1959 film of Tennessee Williams' "Orpheus Descending," starring Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward (at 10:30 p.m.).

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