In September, people are traditionally glued to their sets watching new TV series and new episodes of their TV favorites. But home video companies aren't shying away from that strong competition. September is already shaping up as a big home video month. Last week MCA announced the Sept. 11 release of "Out of Africa." Now Touchstone has revealed that "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," the comedy starring Nick Nolte,Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler, will be available Sept. 23. One of the year's biggest box office hits, this will certainly be a popular rental.
The failure of "Quicksilver" at the box office indicated that fans didn't want to see a movie about big-city bicycle messengers. Even the presence of sex symbol Kevin Bacon didn't help. But things may be different in the home video market. Bacon may lure renters when the movie debuts on cassette Aug. 21 on RCA/Columbia.
MCA's "Brazil," the acclaimed unconventional comedy, is the only major movie released on cassette this week. Of next week's debuts, Warners' "Spies Like Us," a very conventional comedy starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, should be the biggest rental hit. But there should be interest in Paramount's five-cassette "Shoah," the 9 1/2-hour Holocaust documentary. "Marie: A True Story," with Sissy Spacek, will be available on MGM/UA.
The releases on the week of July 23: "Murphy's Romance," "The Hitcher" and "The Delta Force."
OLD MOVIES: For no apparent reason this is Marlon Brando month in the home video market. RCA/Columbia just released his trend-setting 1954 biker movie, "The Wild One." "The Nightcomers," a tawdry 1972 film, is out on Charter Entertainment. Next Wednesday, Paramount is returning two '70s Brando classics--"The Godfather" (1972) and "Apocalypse Now" (1979)--to the home video market at a lower price, $59.95 each."The Godfather Part II" (1974) is also repriced at $59.95.
The 1957 Civil War soap opera, "Raintree County" starring Elizabeth Taylor, and the 1951 epic about Nero's Rome, "Quo Vadis," featuring Robert Taylor, are out next week on MGM/UA. Both are nearly three hours and are on two cassettes, priced at $89.95 per movie.
Those five Lash LaRue Westerns are available this week on Sony. "Stage to Mesa City" (1948), "Ghost Town Renegades" (1947), "Cheyenne Takes Over" (1947), "Return of the Lash" (1947) and "Border Feud" (1947) are all $12.95.
"Knute Rockne--All American" (1940), co-starring Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan, is on MGM/UA and not MCA, as Tom Shales mistakenly wrote in a recent home video column.
FOREIGN MOVIES: This is a banner month for foreign movies. Through Embassy's International Collection, six Ingmar Bergman movies will be released on July 30 at a relatively inexpensive price, $29.95. These releases, available dubbed or with subtitles, are aimed at fans who want to own rather than rent foreign film classics.
"The Devil's Eye" (1960), "Port of Call" (1948) and "Secrets of Women" (1952) are fairly obscure and would only be of interest to Bergman buffs. The other three are among Bergman's finest--"The Virgin Spring" (1959), "The Magician" (1959) and "Winter Light" (1962). These three, though heavily symbolic and metaphysical, are good introductions to Bergman. Incidentally, "Winter Light" is part of a trilogy. It makes more sense when you've seen the other two--"Through a Glass Darkly" and "The Silence."
What the International Collection is doing for Bergman, Key Video is doing for Francois Truffaut. Next Tuesday seven of his movies, including three greats, will be in the stores. At $59.98, these aren't priced to sell, but they'll be popular rentals among film buffs.
Truffaut did his best work in the '50s and early '60s. The three greats of the Key series--"The 400 Blows," "The Soft Skin" and "Jules and Jim"--are from that period. Some film historians consider "The 400 Blows" (1959), one of the best cinematic depictions of adolescent alienation, his masterpiece. Others lean toward "Jules and Jim" (1962), with Jeanne Moreau as the key figure in an unusual triangle. "The Soft Skin" (1964), about a businessman's affair with a stewardess, isn't quite in the same league, but it has been acclaimed as one of the more insightful explorations of infidelity.
Other Truffaut movies on Key are "Two English Girls" (1972), "The Last Metro" (1980), "The Woman Next Door" (1981) and "Confidentially Yours" (1983). "Two English Girls" and "The Last Metro" have been called good but not great Truffaut movies.
There's a bonus in "Two English Girls"--extra footage. Originally it was 103 minutes. But in 1984, 12 years after its release, Truffaut fleshed it out to 130 minutes. Key is putting out the long version.