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Prime-Time Flicks

June 22, 1997|Kevin Thomas

Honeymoon in Vegas (KNBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) proves one more time that when it comes to modern screen comedy, writer-director Andrew Bergman is nothing less than the emperor of the absurd. Nicolas Cage stars as a private eye who elopes to Las Vegas with second-grade teacher Sarah Jessica Parker, who unfortunately is the very image of the beloved dead wife of James Caan, a big-time gambler who will do anything to get her to marry him.

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So I Married an Axe Murderer (KTTV Tuesday at 8 p.m.) finds Mike Myers, who put heavy metal into comedy and "not" into the lexicon, shows up again, all grown up and facing the murderous frontier of marriage, in a 1993 comedy about fear of marriage, fear of sex and fear of commitment. Nancy Travis plays a butcher, and possible serial killer, who ensnares Myers' Frisco yuppie.

Television puts a face on evil this week, and it's Brian Dennehy's. He is convincingly menacing and maniacal as serial murderer John Wayne Gacy in To Catch a Killer (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.). The murders of 33 male teens in suburban Chicago were attributed to Gacy, who was executed at the Illinois State Penitentiary in 1994. This 1991 Canadian production is a cop's-eye view, with Jud Kinberg's script telling the chilling Gacy story from the perspective of Joe Kozenczak (Michael Riley), a Des Plaines police lieutenant.

In the middle of the almost disposable plot of the 1988 Clara's Heart (KCOP Friday at 8 p.m.) sits the sturdy, exquisitely shaded character study by Whoopi Goldberg as Jamaican housekeeper Clara Mayfield. And as an unexpected bonus, there is the delightful debut turn by young Neil Patrick Harris as the wretched little rich boy who falls to her care. Under the resourceful direction of Robert Mulligan, it never cloys and it never condescends.

Movies to Tape

Women from the Lake of Scented Souls (Cinemax Thursday at midnight) Xie Fei's stunning feminist work stars Wu Yujuan, whose sturdy heroine, although unglamorous, brings to mind Joan Crawford in "Mildred Pierce." In rural Northern China, the quality of her sesame oil is so fine that she attracts Japanese investors. While successfully running her mill she is, however, burdened with a drunken, oafish husband (to whom she was sold at 7, married at 13) and above all with trying to marry off her sexually frustrated, mentally retarded son. The point that Xie makes with the impact of revelation--and not an ounce of preachiness--is how oppressed women can be tempted into helping oppress yet another generation of women.

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