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Prime-Time Flicks

July 31, 1994|Kevin Thomas

The well-made but very familiar 1993 TV movie The Conviction of Kitty Dodds (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) is another real-life personal tragedy. The film stars Veronica Hamel in the title role as a battered woman serving a life sentence for having her abusive husband murdered. Spousal abuse is a blight that should be exposed, but turning it into ubiquitous, formulaic TV entertainment numbs the outrage.

Stay the Night (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m., concluding Monday at 9 p.m.), an intriguing 1992 two-part TV movie, offers outstanding performances and fascinating character studies. In the film, platinum-blond Jimmie Sue Finger's (Barbara Hershey) scandalous seduction of fresh-scrubbed, 16-year-old Mike Kettman Jr. (Morgan Weisser) becomes the catalyst for her husband's murder in a sleepy town.

River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.), a ponderous 1993 TV movie, stars Victoria Principal as a divorced and unadventurous mother talked into taking a rafting trip in Texas with her new boyfriend (David Beecroft). When he and a river guide are gunned down by a drug-dealing psychopath, she is left scrambling to escape with few survival skills.

Based on Carlos Fuentes' novel, the 1989 Old Gringo (KCOP Thursday at 8 p.m.), a Mexican Revolution epic, becomes prettily overstuffed. But writer-director Luis Puenzo, and stars Jane Fonda, Jimmy Smits and Gregory Peck (as Ambrose Bierce) win some victories along the way.

Light, fast, sassy and confident, the 1986 F/X (KCOP Friday at 8 p.m.) is a sophisticated, savvy thriller involving a New York-based movie special-effects man (Bryan Brown) hired to stage a fake assassination of a Mafia kingpin (Jerry Orbach); Brian Dennehy as a redoubtable cop co-stars along with Cliff De Young.

HBO's handsome 1991 The Josephine Baker Story (KCAL Saturday at 5 p.m.) gave "La Bakair"--the rage of 1920s Paris, a French Resistance heroine and civil rights activist--the royal treatment she so richly deserved. Highlighted by a knockout performance by the perfectly cast Lynn Whitfield.

The 1979 Meatballs (KTTV Saturday at 6 p.m.) is a fast, funny and sophomoric summer camp comedy in the "Animal House" tradition. Bill Murray stars as an uninhibited camp counselor.

The World According to Garp (KCOP Saturday at 8 p.m.), an overly literary 1982 adaptation of the celebrated John Irving novel about a young man's offbeat odyssey, is memorable mainly for John Lithgow's sweetly persuasive portrayal of a transsexual. Robin Williams stars.

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