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Prime-Time Flicks

March 26, 1995|Kevin Thomas

If fires had agents, not to mention publicists, the blazes that energize the 1991 Backdraft (NBC Sunday at 8 p.m.) would have their names up in lights. And the film's nominal stars, Kurt Russell and William Baldwin as firefighter brothers, would be in small print. Nothing anyone does in Ron Howard's conventional soap opera can hold a candle to the conflagrations. Also left in the ashes: Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn and Rebecca De Mornay.

In the 1989 Black Rain (CBS Monday at 8:30 p.m.) director Ridley Scott pumps in so much pyrotechnic razzle-dazzle that the movie becomes a triumph of matter over mind. It's more movie culture-clash, with Michael Douglas' surly macho Manhattan cop trying to blast his way through an Asian sea of red tape to recover an extradited murderer. With Ken Takakura and Andy Garcia.

The Lawnmower Man (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) looks good but sounds terrible; blame the poor writing. Scientist Pierce Brosnan looks to the mentally retarded man (Jeff Fahey) who mows his lawn as a guinea pig in an experiment that's supposed to boost his IQ fantastically.

Brian De Palma's 1992 Raising Cain (KTTV Tuesday at 8 p.m.), preposterous throughout, defeats itself in its attempt to be both a thriller and a parody of thrillers. John Lithgow stars as a child psychologist taking time off to carry out his various theories on his own flesh and blood.

Backtrack (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.) is an absorbing 1989 Dennis Hopper film in which Hopper stars as a kidnaper who falls in love with his victim (Jodie Foster); released on cable in 1991 at its original (116-minute) running time after release in Europe in a shorter version. With an extraordinary roster of top supporting actors.

In Tony Bill's 1989 Five Corners (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.), writer John Patrick Shanley reshapes his own adolescence in an amusingly crackpot way. Shanley's alter-ego (Tim Robbins), a tough but sensitive Irish-American kid in the East Bronx of 1964, joins the civil rights movement after seeing Martin Luther King Jr. give his "I Have a Dream" speech on TV. Like most movie pacifists, he's faced with a violent crisis: the return from jail of the neighborhood bully (John Turturro), jailed for attempting to rape the local beauty (Jodie Foster).

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