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Movie Spotlight

September 06, 1998|Kevin Thomas

The Onion Field (ABC Monday at 9 p.m.) is the grueling, uneven but engrossing and deeply affecting 1979 film which Joseph Wambaugh adapted from his own nonfiction novel about a notorious, still-controversial cop-killing and its aftermath. James Woods is a thoroughly scary psychopath, and Franklyn Seales' stooge is an even more complex characterization. The picture is not the least of all a grimly convincing expose of a justice system that creates its own victims. John Savage co-stars.

The 1940 Night Train to Munich (A&E early Tuesday at 1 a.m.) is a timeless enthralling high adventure of the kind paid tribute to by "Raiders of the Lost Ark," in which Rex Harrison plays a fearless, self-mocking British secret agent, disguised as a Nazi major. Margaret Lockwood co-stars.

Under Siege (KCBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is one of Steven Seagal's best: A good-looking, high-tech 1992 thriller directed by Andrew Davis that takes its simple hook--"Die Hard" on a battleship, with Seagal as a karate heroic cook--and keeps ramming home the blood and glitz. Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey play the ace heavies.

One Fine Day (HBO Wednesday at 6 p.m.; Saturday at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.), a slick 1996 romantic fantasy for single parents who fear they'll always have to go it alone, is fortunate in its casting. Not only does it have Michelle Pfeiffer, but it marks the emergence of George Clooney as a major romantic star, who possesses considerable roguish charm and handles himself with practiced aplomb.

Directed by Robert De Niro in his feature debut and adapted by Chazz Palminteri from his play, the 1993 A Bronx Tale (Cinemax Thursday at 8 p.m.) brings an authenticity to the world of New York's ethnic neighborhoods. Although burdened by two melodramatic story lines, it is appealing in its celebration of ambience and mood. The story revolves around the education of a young man named Calogero (Lillo Brancoto) in the primarily Italian Belmont section of the Bronx. De Niro plays his bus driver father. Palminteri, who plays a charismatic local hood, believes strongly that Calogero should go to college and leave the streets behind.

The Running Man (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.), a 1987 sci-fi thriller, mixes predictable high-tech action with galvanically-mean satire. In a futuristic America, the state's enemies (including Arnold Schwarzenegger) are tracked by cartoonish assassins before live audiences in an outrageous game show hosted by Richard Dawson.

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