The 1986 TV movie Rockabye (CBS Sunday...
The 1986 TV movie Rockabye (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a lurid, exploitative vigilante thriller starring Valerie Bertinelli as a woman whose 2-year-old son is snatched by a black-market baby ring and who ends up taking the law into her own hands.
Norma Rae (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.), a rousing, gratifying 1979 production, brought Sally Field her first Oscar as a rural Southern textile worker whose consciousness is raised by New York labor organizer Ron Leibman. Beau Bridges is splendid as the new man in her life.
A Stranger Waits (CBS Monday at 9 p.m.) is a 1987 TV movie starring Suzanne Pleshette as a widow endangered by her affair with a mysterious young man (Justin Deas).
Woody Allen’s 1975 Love and Death (Channel 7 Monday at 9 p.m.) plays like an extended vaudeville sketch whose humor is based most often on a fine mismating of then and now in which Allen casts himself as a coward caught up in the Napoleonic Wars. Funny but uneven. Diane Keaton co-stars.
Director Karel Reisz and writer Harold Pinter’s dazzling 1981 film of John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) stars Meryl Streep as an enigmatic, melancholy Victorian-era beauty who entrances Jeremy Irons’ proper British gentleman. We’re startled to realize that we’re watching a film-within-a-film in which Irons the actor finds himself increasingly drawn to Streep, the American actress playing the beauty. This ravishing, mesmerizing film, in its cross-cutting between its two levels, becomes a dry comment on what has become of personal morality between 1867 and the present. It’s a stunning, ambitious achievement.
The 1985 White Nights (CBS Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.) is a laughably foolish contrivance in which a Russian dancer-defector (Mikhail Baryshnikov) finds himself back in the Soviet Union after an airplane disaster over Siberia, where he crosses paths with a black American tap dancer (Gregory Hines) who quit the U.S. during Vietnam but now would like to return to America. Even more contrived than it sounds, and the inevitable dancing sequences can’t begin to save it.
The Man With One Red Shoe (ABC Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a labored 1985 remake of France’s giddy “The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe” in which Tom Hanks plays a young man wrongly targeted by the CIA. Luckily, even near the beginning of his career, Hanks had a loopy comic charm.
Alan Pakula’s 1978 Comes a Horseman (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) finds James Caan, Jane Fonda and Jason Robards as Montana ranchers battling for land and power. Fonda is persuasive as a strong yet vulnerable woman struggling to keep her cattle spread from being overtaken by old-style cattle baron Robards; at the same time she’s gradually becoming involved with ex-GI Caan. It’s a handsome but overly studied film.
Network (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.) returns with its all-out assault on the evils of commercial television. At the symbolic center of this savage Sidney Lumet-Paddy Chayefsky 1976 satire is Peter Finch as the elder statesman of TV newscasters who has been fired and who announces that he’s going to blow his brains out on camera. Network is deliberately exaggerated, yet Chayefsky always maintained that every incident had some basis in fact.
Raising a child with Down’s syndrome has got to be harder than it looks in the 1987 TV movie Kids Like These (CBS Thursday at 9 p.m.). Tyne Daly and Richard Crenna, who play the parents, are so heroic they hardly seem real. More effective as advocacy for increased opportunities for such children than as drama.
There’s a lethal quality of impersonality to The River (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.), a 1984 film dealing with the struggles of a contemporary farm family, caught in a squeeze between unfriendly nature and unforgiving banks. It’s Inspirational Misery at its fullest and most manipulative, for all its considerable craftsmanship. Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek are a heroic Tennessee couple, facing up to every disaster of nature--and screenwriting.
Directed by John Schlesinger and written by Alan Bennett for the BBC in 1983, An Englishman Abroad (Channel 50 Saturday at 9 p.m.) is a delicious gem that finds British defector-traitor Guy Burgess (Alan Bates, at his best) dropping in on a British acting company touring the Soviet Union with “Hamlet” in 1958, mostly out of homesickness for cricket and decently cut clothing. Coral Browne plays the actress/narrator with tart elan.