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Prime-Time Flicks

February 26, 1995|Kevin Thomas

There have been more authentic accounts of the U.S. Cavalry's brutal impact upon Native Americans, but none has been as remotely effective in reaching such a large audience as Kevin Costner's prize-laden Dances With Wolves (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m., concluding Monday at 9 p.m.). Costner stars--and directs--as a disillusioned Civil War veteran whose life takes on fresh meaning when he is accepted by a Sioux tribe, which he discovers is far more civilized than the white soldiers determined to conquer it. The Native Americans are idealized, their white adversaries rotten to the core, but such simplifying does not prevent the 1990 film from being a stunningly effective screen epic.

Brian De Palma's Scarface (KTLA Monday at 8 p.m., concluding Tuesday at 8 p.m.), a 1983 remake of Howard Hawks' 1932 gangster classic, moves the action from Chicago in the '20s to the cocaine-channeling Miami of the early '80s. For all its operatic razzle-dazzle, it becomes a lurid exercise in wretched excess. Al Pacino has the title role as a doomed drug kingpin, and Michelle Pfeiffer as his moll.

Slicing and dicing their adversaries with precision, those deadly Ninjas are once again on the rampage in American Ninja (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.), a violent, supercharged adventure that breathes new life into the martial arts genre. This 1985 movie resounds with verve and enthusiasm, thanks to director Sam Firstenberg. Michael Dudikoff stars.

The 1985 Invasion U.S.A. (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.) is a one-note sadistic affair in which director Joseph Zito and co-writer-star Chuck Norris offer a scenario for a terrorist assault on the United States: A motley band of Russians and Latins sneak into Miami, machine-gunning a boatload of Cuban refugees and killing a cocaine czar. Their crazed leader (Richar Lynch) decides he must assassinate the one man he believes can foil the entire plan: an ex-CIA agent (Norris).

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) catches up with that eternal 8-year-old, created by comedian Paul Reubens, who inhabits the role with an eerily fixed concentration. The comic odyssey here revolves around Pee-wee's stolen bicycle. Its loss forces this bumbling man-child out from his guarded citadel, a pasteled '50s paradise, into a rough, rude world. Director Tim Burton, in his 1985 feature debut, displays a real flair for dancing on that thin line between terror and hilarity.

Pictures don't get much more patriotic than Michael Curtiz's sure-fire 1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy (KCET Saturday at 11:30 p.m.), in which James Cagney sings and dances his way to an Oscar as Broadway legend George M. Cohan.

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