MOVIES OF THE WEEK
F.I.S.T. (ABC Sunday at 8 p.m.) is one of Norman Jewison’s very best films, presenting a significant slice of American social and economic history in the form of a robust biography of a Jimmy Hoffa-like labor leader, played with passion and resolve by Sylvester Stallone (who also co-wrote the script with Joe Eszterhas from Eszterhas’ story). Spanning Depression Cleveland of 1937 to a raucous Senate investigating committee hearing in the ‘60s, F.I.S.T., which was made in 1976, is a morality play in which Stallone early on makes a fatal compromise with the underworld to better the lot of his men, to whom he remains forever loyal despite his tainted honor. There’s a truncated feeling to F.I.S.T., especially when it shifts abruptly to the ‘60s, suggesting that it really deserved the full epic scale of Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” a film that it recalls in its rich sense of period and incisive grasp of the American character. F.I.S.T.'s many excellences, however, outweigh its structural flaws.
A crass tale about an East Coast, lower-middle-class Italian-American’s coming of age, A Father’s Love (released theatrically in 1978 under the title “Bloodbrothers,” and screening Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC) plays like “Saturday Night Fever” minus the disco music and, more important, minus the charm. What’s left is the kind of movie that seems intent upon punishing us with a parade of abusive, ignorant, violent and otherwise unappealing people for the sake of illustrating the familiar truth that there comes a time in every young person’s life when it’s imperative to strike out on your own. In this instance the youth is a very mannered Richard Gere. Tony Lo Bianco is his supermacho adulterous father; Paul Sorvino is his loving uncle, forever preaching family togetherness.
Giant, the sprawling, much-loved Texas epic that George Stevens directed from the Edna Ferber novel, screens Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5 and will be completed Tuesday at the same time. Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean star.
Also airing in two parts (and at the same times, Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m.) on Channel 13 is the well-meaning but ponderous Voyage of the Damned, based on a tragic 1939 journey in which a ship full of German-Jewish refugees bound for Havana was denied permission to dock in Cuba (or anywhere else) and was forced to return home. Faye Dunaway heads a starry cast.
Playing Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 7 is The Wrecking Crew, the fourth and final (1969) of Dean Martin’s Matt Helm adventures, memorable mainly for their crassness. (At least this one had the good fortune to be directed by the reliable Phil Karlson, who also directed the first in the series.)
The 1982 TV movie Remembrance of Love returns Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC. Overly melodramatic, it stars Kirk Douglas as a widower reunited with a woman (Chana Eden) he had fallen in love with in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The Other Victim (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a 1982 TV movie that focuses effectively on the devastating impact of rape upon the victim’s husband, in this case a construction foreman who is wracked with guilt and frustration over his desire to find the unknown assailant and exact vengeance. William Devane and Jennifer O’Neill star.
There’s a good Anthony Mann-directed James Stewart western, The Far Country, screening Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13. Also at Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5, there’s Neil Diamond’s misguided remake of the old Al Jolson tearjerker that ushered in the talkies, The Jazz Singer. (It’s a tossup as to whether Laurence Olivier is more embarrassing here as Diamond’s cantor father or as Gen. Douglas MacArthur in “Inchon.”). The Jazz Singer airs again Saturday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5.
Two TV film bios resurface this week. Jane Alexander stars as Calamity Jane with Frederick Forrest as Wild Bill Hickcock and Ken Kercheval as Buffalo Bill Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS, while Cheryl Ladd portrays Grace Kelly in the ABC movie Thursday at 8 p.m. Ian McShane costars.
The 1985 TV movie, An Innocent Love (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.), finds a 14-year-old math and astronomy prodigy (Doug McKeon) becoming a tutor to a pretty college basketball star (Melissa Sue Anderson).
Airing at 8 p.m. Friday on Channel 13 is the excellent, offbeat Harpy, in which architect-amateur falconer Hugh O’Brian, his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley and just about everyone else in this 1971 TV movie (expertly directed by Gerald Seth Sindell) is not what he or she seems.
Anthony Mann also directed The Fall of the Roman Empire (Channel 9 Saturday at 10 p.m.), one of the best of the sword-and-sandal epics, which stars Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, James Mason, Alec Guinness (the latter two are outstanding) and many others.
Selected evening film fare on the pay cables: Sixteen Candles (HBO Sunday at 6:30, Z Sunday at 7:30 and Wednesday at 9, Movie Channel Tuesday at 9:30); The Mortal Storm (WGN Sunday at 9:30); Goodbye, My Fancy (WOR Sunday at 10); Playtime (Z Monday at 7); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Z Monday at 9); The Scarface Mob (WTBS Monday at 9:50); Royal Wedding (Cinemax Tuesday at 8); Day for Night (ON Tuesday at 9, also SelecTV at 9); Gunga Din (Z Wednesday at 7); D.O.A. (WTBS Wednesday at 9:30); The Parallax View (WTBS Thursday at 7:20); Lost Horizon (Z Thursday at 7 p.m.); East of Eden (WTBS Thursday at 9:30); Platinum Blonde (Z Saturday at 6); Tex (ON and SelecTV Saturday at 7); Scarlet Street (A&E; Saturday at 9).