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Prime-Time Flicks

November 13, 1994|Kevin Thomas

To give the devil his due, Oliver Stone, with his JFK (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m., concluding Wednesday at 9 p.m.), succeeded in making a dent in governmental secrecy surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. Still, his bravura 1991 film plays fast and loose with what is already known. Turning dubious New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) into a Capra-esque hero is just the beginning of the distortions.

Lethal Weapon 3 (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.), the latest (1992) and, one fears, not the last in the kiss-kiss, bang-bang saga of L.A. police detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), is even more of a comic strip than the sequel. This time around, Murtaugh is seven days from retirement when he and his partner are ensnared in a case involving a cache of illegal firearms stolen from a police warehouse.

In the 1992 White Men Can't Jump (KTTV Tuesday at 8 p.m.), Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, charming and believably athletic, are the Laurel and Hardy of the half-court game, a couple of champs at pickup basketball. With good-humored comic energy, they overcome sizable script problems, turning Ron Shelton's 1992 film into a sassy and profane urban fairy tale. As Harrelson's girlfriend, Rosie Perez is an original with an almost indefinable screen persona.

Ethan Frome (KCET Wednesday at 9 p.m.), the 1993 film from Edith Wharton's rapturously desolate tragic love affair between a New Englander (Liam Neeson) and the distant cousin (Patricia Arquette) of his embittered, hypochondriac wife (Joan Allen), opts for dogged realism instead of Wharton's stark, dark moodiness. As a result, you watch these people suffer without much empathy.

With the 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark (KTLA Thursday at 7:30 p.m.), Steven Spielberg and George Lucas celebrated the joys of Saturday matinee serials on a grand scale and with great success, introducing Harrison Ford as the ruggedly romantic Indiana Jones.

Paul Verhoeven's 1987 RoboCop (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.) is ferocious comic-book fare, starring Peter Weller as a slain Detroit cop whose head and heart are mounted in a crime-fighting robot.

Tim Burton's uproarious 1988 Beetlejuice (KCOP Saturday at 6 p.m.) is an irresistible treat in which ghosts Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis wreak havoc on the relentlessly upscale new owners of their New England home. With Michael Keaton in the title role as a decidedly weird "bio-exorcist."

The The Best Years of Our Lives, William Wyler's 1946 World War II homecoming classic, airs on KCET Saturday at 9 p.m.

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