Order in the court Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are father and daughter attorneys who find themselves on opposite sides of a court case in "Class Action." He is defending a man injured in an automobile accident. She is defending the car manufacturers. This engrossing film combines courtroom with domestic drama and manages to make both interesting. Colin Friels is the woman's lover and co-worker, who may be ready to betray her should the occasion arise. Language. Rating: R. ***
The 1991 show by the visual arts faculty at The Baltimore School for the Arts is a lively exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media pieces. Works range from Kim Parr's graceful landscape paintings to Volker Schoenfliess's "Elvis On the Half Shell," a ceramic tribute to the King's everlasting fondness for chocolate doughnuts. Pieces by Narda Francfort Carroll, Diane Sipple, Luis Flores, Chris Hartlove, Sally hTC Hopkins, David Lovinger, Michelle La Perriere, Stephen Kent, Katherine Kendall and Rodney Carroll. At the school, 712 Cathedral St., through March 27. Hours: Today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 396-1185.
Christopher Durang's dark one-act satires, "The Actor's Nightmare" and "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You" are currently on stage at the Spotlighters Theatre. Tom Seibert gives an hilarious performance in the first as a terrified actor who dreams he finds himself in the middle of a theater production. The dream worsens when he finds he does not know the play, the lines or the people. In the second show, Anne B. Mulligan stars as an obsessed nun who has all the pat answers to the questions of life and death. 8:30 p.m. tonight. 817 St. Paul St. Tickets: $8. Call 752-1225.
Hung up by a hamstring this week in his comeback attempt, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is due to be in the broadcast booth and not on the playing field today when WMAR-Channel 2 carries the first of its pre-season Orioles games. The Birds, who are having a good spring so far, meet the Texas Rangers at 1:30 p.m. from Port Charlotte, Fla. And it's a fat sports weekend over on WBAL-Channel 11, too. A total of some 16 hours of second-round action of the NCAA college basketball tournament is scheduled, beginning at noon both today and tomorrow.
Itsy bitsy spiders
Deadly spiders terrorize a small California town in "Arachnophobia," a scare film that is much better than most. Jeff Daniels is the new doctor in town, a man who is terrified of spiders -- and should be because these spiders are killers imported from Venezuela. The ending is unusual for a scare movie. It is humorous rather than hackneyed. Violence. Rating: PG-13. ***