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Prime-Time Flicks

October 01, 1995|Kevin Thomas

Where Angels Fear to Tread (KCET Sunday at 9 p.m.), a 1991 film of E.M. Forster's first (1905) novel, is about stuffy Britishers battling the seductions of easy, erotic Italy. It is faithful to its source, intelligent and has a great cast: Judy Davis, Helen Mirren, Helena Bonham-Carter and Barbara Jefford tear into the four plum women's roles like starved thespians feeding on the lines. But it's also a little stodgy and drowsy, with Rupert Graves an odd choice for focal character Phillip.

Bloodlines: Murder in the Family (NBC Wednesday at 9 p.m.) offers Elliott Gould a wonderfully gross, sniveling role as a callow businessman who kills his parents on Yom Kippur; this impressive 1993 miniseries is based on a 1985 double-slaying in Brentwood.

A grimy, on-the-edge world of racetrack crooks and petty swindlers, sliced open with the cool panache of a killer's scalpel--that is The Grifters (KCOP Thursday at 8 p.m.). The 1990 well-received film is based on the Jim Thompson novel and Donald Westlake adapts it expertly. Director Stephen Frears gives it the amoral, creamily lit texture of a Restoration sex comedy. The cast is super: John Cusack as a baby-faced con artist, Annette Bening as his outrageously sexy accomplice and Anjelica Huston in one of the screen's least sentimental depictions of motherly love.

Suspenseful though rambling, the 1992 TV To Catch a Killer (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.) stars Brian Dennehy, convincingly menacing and maniacal as serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Conan the Barbarian (KTLA Saturday at 5 p.m.) revives the heroic epic in all its innocent pleasures, on a spectacular scale and with a sophisticated style to boot. Directed and co-written (with Oliver Stone) by John Milius in 1982 from the character created more than 50 years ago by writer E Howard, it's a classic struggle between good and evil (here, that would be Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. James Earl Jones).

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