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Prime-Time Flicks

March 12, 1995|Kevin Thomas

In the dismal 1989 Harlem Nights (KTLA Sunday at 8 p.m.) Eddie Murphy, who also wrote and directed, eases himself into a stiff, waxy persona as a 1930s ladykiller, club host, gambler and gunman extraordinaire.

The kids get to play dress-up in the 1992 Far and Away (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m., concluding Monday at 9 p.m.). Tom Cruise tries Clark Gable on for size, Nicole Kidman has a go at Barbara Stanwyck, and director Ron Howard sees what it's like to be the legendary John Ford. Like all games of pretend, it's sillier than painful, but makes you long for the real thing. Always preposterous and occasionally tedious, it's a tale of two young people, a figurative princess and a genuine pauper who, thanks to a series of cockamamie plot twists, end up traveling from Ireland to the free shores of these here United States.

In the 1990 Men at Work (KTLA Tuesday at 8 p.m.), a pleasant, knockabout 1990 comedy, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen (real-life brothers) play a couple of South Bay garbage collectors who come upon the corpse of a city council candidate who was about to become a whistle-blower on a toxic-waste operation run by a tycoon.

There's a fine line here between jingoism and camp, travesty and tongue-in-cheek, action and inanity, the 1992 Aces: Iron Eagle III (Fox Tuesday at 8 p.m.) never finds it. It's the third time for Louis Gossett Jr. as Col. Chappie Sinclair, a crusty ex-Air Force fighter pilot who specializes in illegal free-lance bombing raids in unfriendly territory. This time his target is a Peruvian cocaine factory. With Christopher Cazenove, Horst Buchholtz and Sonny Chiba as Sinclair's henchmen.

With the 1973 High Plains Drifter (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.), Clint Eastwood again becomes The Stranger, that steely, monosyllabic sharpshooter of the Sergio Leone Westerns. And he also directs. The result is a stylized Western: The Stranger's mission is to face down three gunmen on their way to wipe out a frontier town. The film is full of chilling paranoia and considerable sardonic humor. It's also very violent, in the ritualized manner of a samurai movie.

Joe Kidd (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.), a solidly crafted 1972 western, forthrightly depicts injustices to Mexican-Americans. It stars Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall and John Saxon.

Although it was pilloried at the time of its release, the 1982 Airplane II: The Sequel (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is actually rather amusing--in its first half. It isn't as funny as the 1980 original because it's too much of a rehash. It concerns the first lunar shuttle to fly out of a commercial air terminal. With Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges and Peter Graves.

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