Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (Channel 13 tonight...

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Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (Channel 13 tonight at 8) is a stunning, high-style study of a handsome young man (Richard Gere, never better) who lives off women. Schrader resolves the film’s thriller plot with a daring, unexpected act of spiritual redemption in homage to one of his heroes, ascetic French director Robert Bresson. This 1980 release is one of the best but least appreciated contemporary American films.

Out of Africa (CBS tonight at 9, concluding Tuesday at 9 p.m.). Sydney Pollack’s lush 1985 production takes us to unspoiled Kenya in 1914 with the Danish aristocrat Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep, who became a storyteller of the first order under her pen name Isak Dinesen. The center of the film--Blixen’s romance with dashing great white hunter and aviator Denys Finch-Hatten--is, however, seriously weakened by a miscast Robert Redford, who doesn’t even attempt a British accent.

The Murder of Mary Phagan (NBC tonight at 8:30, concluding Monday at 8:30 p.m.), an eerie, troubling 1988 sociological thriller, recalls an actual, highly volatile 1913-15 case in which an Atlanta Jew was accused of slaying a 13-year-old. Jack Lemmon stars.


Tobe Hooper’s humorous, faithful-to-the-source 1986 Invaders from Mars (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) is actually far better than William Cameron Menzies’ 1953 original, a low-budget sci-fi adventure with Cold War chills and Gothic Americana. With Karen Black, Hunter Carson, Timothy Bottoms, Laraine Newman and James Karen.

In Alien Nation (Channel 11 Monday at 8 p.m.), it’s the near future, and L.A. is trying to absorb a population of 300,000 humanoids. Unfortunately, this 1988 release is no “Planet of the Apes,” but allegory laid on thinly to the formula cop-buddy picture in an attempt to freshen it up. James Caan and Mandy Patinkin star.

Clive Barker’s 1987 Hellraiser (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is one of the more original and memorable horror pictures of recent years: genuinely scary but also an excessive stomach-churner about a middle-class household sinking into depravity, dragged there by its black sheep (Sean Chapman).

Wolfgang Petersen’s 1985 Enemy Mine (Channel 11 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is uneven but hard to dislike: a sci-fi parable in which two combatants, a human (Dennis Quaid) and his opposite number from the planet Dracon (Louis Gossett Jr.) eventually become galaxy-bridging friends.

Opposites Attract (NBC Friday at 8 p.m.), a rerun of a 1990 TV movie, finds a town supervisor (Barbara Eden) running for mayor against a movie star (John Forsythe), new to the community.

Conan the Barbarian (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.) revives the heroic epic in all its innocent pleasures on a spectacular scale with a sophisticated style. Directed and co-written (with Oliver Stone) in 1982 by John Milius from a character created by Robert E. Howard 50 years earlier, it’s a classic struggle between good and evil. Also a homage to illustrator Frank Frazetta, it stars the Frazetta superman come to life--Arnold Schwarzenegger.


The Man With Two Brains (Channel 13 Saturday at 6 p.m.) is a very dark 1983 Carl Reiner-Steve Martin comedy in which Martin’s eminent brain surgeon, having succumbed to Kathleen Turner’s hateful tease, falls in love with the living brain extracted from a woman’s corpse. Weird, disturbing yet disarmingly funny.