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Movie Spotlight

October 18, 1998|Kevin Thomas

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (KTLA Sunday at 5 p.m.) is Amy Heckerling's outrageously funny, sometimes poignant 1982 look at life at a California high school. Cameron Crowe ("Jerry Maguire") based the screenplay on his nonfiction book detailing his experiences going undercover at a San Diego area school. Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh in the leads, along with Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and Nicolas Cage (then billed as Coppola) in smaller roles are among the film's many assets.

The 1993 Nowhere to Run (ABC Monday at 9 p.m.) allows Jean-Claude Van Damme to expand his range as an actor while delivering the action goods in a simple but effective story of a man with a past who comes to the aid of a widow (Rosanna Arquette) trying to stave off a developer from gobbling up her ranch.

The very first winner of the best picture Oscar, Wings (AMC early Tuesday at 3 a.m.), is a 1927 silent World War I aerial epic with awesome combat-flying sequences. It may seem a trifle corny today but nonetheless retains tremendous verve, thanks to the lusty direction of William Wellman. Army Air Corps buddies Charles (Buddy) Rogers and Richard Arlen fall in love with the same woman, Clara Bow. Look for a brief but star-making appearance by Gary Cooper.

Sonke Wortmann's 1994 Maybe . . . Maybe Not (Showtime early Thursday at 3:30 a.m.) is as tonic as a breath of fresh air. It stars Til Schweiger as a handsome waiter in a swanky Cologne nightclub where his lover (Katja Riemann) works. She catches him playing around with a female customer, throws him out of their apartment, and he ends up being given shelter by a gay man (Joachim Krol). That's when the fun begins.

Back in 1958, long before he became an esteemed filmmaker, Robert Benton decided to gather all the jazz musicians he possibly could for a group photo, taken by the late Art Kane, in front of a Harlem brownstone for an Esquire cover story on the golden age of jazz. Documentarian Jean Bach has been no less inspired than Benton in getting the surviving musicians to speak of those who have died--legends like Thelonius Monk, Lester Young, Charles Mingus and Pee Wee Russell. They tell their stories in the wonderful 1994 documentary A Great Day in Harlem (KCET Friday at 9 p.m.), augmented by rich archival material.

KCET's Saturday Night double feature offers two memorable '40s movies: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (at 9 p.m.) and Mother Wore Tights (at 10:30).

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