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Will Polanski's 'Pirates' Walk the Video Plank?; 'Letter to Brezhnev' Appeals to Foreign-Film Buffs

October 10, 1986|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

Roman Polanski's "Pirates," one of the bombs of summer, isn't likely to be a smash on home video either. When USA Home Video releases it Nov. 20, it'll have to struggle to find an audience. The problem is lack of what's known as "video zing." Its star, Walter Matthau, isn't a particularly big home video draw. Pirates aren't exactly trendy these days either.

"Letter to Brezhnev" is one of those small, highly regarded art-house movies that should have considerable appeal to foreign-film buffs in the home-video market. Directed by Chris Bernard, this English comedy/drama concerns the consequences of a long-distance romance between a young working-class woman from Liverpool and a Russian sailor. Karl-Lorimar is releasing it Nov. 14.

NEW RELEASES: Before "Pretty in Pink," Molly Ringwald was known primarily to teen-age fans. But, due to a Time magazine cover story, the masses "discovered" her when the movie came out earlier this year. Now a Paramount Home Video release, "Pretty in Pink" should easily make the Top 10 on the rental charts. Its teen-age audience is guaranteed. It's the adults, however, who'll make a difference. Adults who wouldn't go to a theater to see such a movie might rent it to check out America's favorite teen star.

"Pretty in Pink," about a poor girl-rich boy romance, was generally well received by the critics. The ending, though, has been consistently rapped for being too contrived.

"Eight Million Ways to Die," just released by CBS-Fox, is about a drunken former cop who stumbles onto a drug ring. It has a great cast--Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette--and a noted director, Hal Ashby, but was still trashed by the critics, who called it muddled. That's generally the result when the director gets fired during post-production.

MGM/UA's long-awaited "9 1/2 Weeks"--the seamy drama with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger--is now available. It contains footage not in the theatrical version that should lure lots of renters.

Out this week: Media's "Santa Claus: the Movie"--expensive and critically maligned--and "Head Office," a comedy with Judge Reinhold and Danny DeVito.

The Disney feature-length animated classic "Sleeping Beauty" is due out next week. MCA's "The Money Pit," a comedy with Shelley Long and Tom Hanks, will also in the stores next week.

FOR TREKKIES ONLY: The fanatical fans of "Star Trek" have been waiting a long time for "The Cage," the 1965 pilot for the TV series, just released by Paramount. Leonard Nimoy is the only member of this cast, which also includes Jeffrey Hunter, who wound up as a series regular. The 73-minute movie has never been telecast in its entirety. Some Trekkies, though, have seen it at the "Star Trek" conventions. What's odd about this one is that a few minutes of it are in black and white, replacing color footage that was accidentally destroyed.

Some Trekkies report that, while "The Cage" has terrific curiosity value, it's not particularly good. But to most Trekkies, its quality is irrelevant. They'll want to add it to their collection of "Star Trek" videocassettes. That's why Paramount priced it low enough, $29.95, to encourage sales.

Also, Paramount just released 10 more "Star Trek" TV episodes at $14.95. Thoroughly indulging the Trekkies, the company has been putting them out in chronological order. This release begins with "Obsession" (1967) and ends with "By Any Other Name" (1968).

CHARTS (Complied by Billboard magazine). TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, RENTALS

1--"Out of Africa" (MCA).

2--"Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (Touchstone).

3--"Gung Ho" (Paramount).

4--"Murphy's Romance" (RCA/Columbia).

5--"Young Sherlock Holmes" (Paramount).

6--"Crossroads" (RCA/Columbia).

7--"Back to the Future" (MCA).

8--"Iron Eagle" (CBS-Fox).

9--"The Jewel of the Nile" (CBS-Fox).

10--"Wildcats" (Warner Video). TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES

1--"Jane Fonda's New Workout" (Karl-Lorimar).

2--"The Sound of Music" (CBS-Fox).

3--"Amadeus" (HBO/Cannon).

4--"Out of Africa" (MCA).

5--"The Music Man" (Warner Bros.).

6--"Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (Touchstone).

7--"Kathy's Smith's Body Basics" (JCI).

8--"Alien" (CBS-Fox).

9--"Jane Fonda's Workout" (Karl-Lorimar).

10--"Casablanca" (CBS-Fox).

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