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TURN-ONS AND TURN OFFS IN CURRENT HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASES : ****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

June 23, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"The Docks of New York." Paramount. $29.95. One of the most beautifully photographed of all American silent films, this somber evocation of the New York docks' underbelly--the sailors, low-lifes and doxies--was directed by a master painter of light and shade: Josef Von Sternberg. The script is another cynical Jules Furthman number: about a tough guy and the wenches who love him--in this case a philandering stoker, his wife and a would-be suicide he fishes from the drink. George Bancroft and Betty Compson are the lovers, Olga Baclanova, of "Freaks," the wife. It's one of those romances where everyone speaks from the side of their mouth, through wreaths of cigarette smoke. But, like most Sternberg-Furthman collaborations, it has aged well, taking on psychological-archetypal layers where once only popular kitsch was apparent. And visually the film--shot by Hal Rosson--is a knockout. It's among six silent movies released this month by Paramount Video. Others include "The Ten Commandments," "The Last Command" and "The Wedding March," all featuring organ scores by Gaylord Carter. Information: (213) 468-5000. *** 1/2

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