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Movies to Date By

September 30, 1990|JOE SALTZMAN

The movies always have been an important part of American mating rituals.

Many of us attempted that first kiss in the back rows of the neighborhood motion-picture theater or in cars parked row to row at the local drive-in.

Today, more often than not, the place to date is in the home. The TV room is replacing the drive-in as the romantic hot spot of the 1990s.

For some, it doesn't really matter what movie is playing on the home screen. But for many, that movie can set just the right mood-or be as chilling as a cold shower. Picking just the right double feature is becoming as important as what cologne or perfume to wear, and what breath mint or gum to chew.

It's not very hard to select a current top box-office hit, but what do you do after you run out of familiar current titles? You manufacture a home video double feature.

Try out these double-features. They're guaranteed to make the both of you feel warm and happy. After that, the rest is up to you.

Video Date No. 1

Play It Again, Sam (Paramount tape and laser disc); Arabesque (MCA tape and disc).

In the first, Woody Allen is the fumbling lover coached by the ghost of Humphrey Bogart; the best scenes from "Casablanca" also are included.

"Arabesque" shows off two of the best-looking actors in film history: Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. The glossy Stanley Donen thriller offers one surprise after another and lots of romantic byplay between Peck and Loren, including a sensational shower scene.

Video Date No. 2

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (CBS-Fox tape and disc);

Charade (MCA tape and disc).

In "Butch Cassidy," you get Paul Newman and Robert Redford, a catchy Burt Bacharach-Hal David score (including "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and a clever script by William Goldman--what more could you want? Add an erotic seduction scene with a marvelously funny and sexy twist (with Redford and Katharine Ross) and you have the perfect vid-date movie.

Audrey Hepburn and Grant star in the delightful Donen comedy-thriller "Charade."This almost-too-clever film is set in Paris, offers one cliffhanger after another, a Henry Mancini score and the exquisite chemistry between the two stars. If the twists in plot get in the way of your romantic evening, concentrate on those looks Grant and Hepburn keep giving each other.

Video Date No. 3

American Dreamer (CBS-Fox tape);

North by Northwest (MGM/UA tape or Criterion laser video disc).

These two comedy thrillers are filled with delightful surprises.

The first is a 1984 sleeper that was overshadowed by "Romancing the Stone," which also dealt with what happens when fantasy becomes real. JoBeth Williams plays a put-upon housewife who escapes her drab life by reading mystery-adventure-thriller novels featuring a dynamic heroine called Rebecca Ryan. Williams wins a trip to Paris, is knocked out in an accident and when she wakes up, she believes she is Rebecca. What follows next is a surprisingly delightful romp. Tom Conti plays her bewildered accomplice.

"North by Northwest" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best. Cary Grant is the innocent victim; Eva Marie Saint is the woman who pursues him. The script by Ernest Lehman is one of the wittiest Hitchcock ever filmed and Bernard Herrmann's music never lets up. The crop-dusting plane sequence is unforgettable as is the finale, the classic Mt. Rushmore chase that ends with Grant pulling Saint to safety in a way that will leave you and your date happily satisfied.

Video Date No. 4

One Touch of Venus (Republic tape);

Notorious (CBS-Fox tape and disc).

Chances are you've never heard of "One Touch of Venus," and that's a pity. It's a tender comedy featuring a Ava Gardner as the statue of Venus who comes to life. Robert Walker is the confused mortal. The ending should make any mortal's heart beat faster.

"Notorious" is another Hitchcock gem featuring a smoldering love affair between Grant and Ingrid Bergman that is the centerpiece of this suspenseful tale of espionage. Bergman, misunderstanding Grant's motives, agrees to marry a spy (Claude Rains) to get information to Grant. The suspenseful ending is guaranteed to bring you closer.

Video Date No. 5

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Paramount tape and disc);

Time After Time (Warner tape and disc).

Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly, a sanitized version of the heroine in Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's." There's "Moon River" and a glowing, sentimental ending in the rain.

"Time after Time" is a most agreeable thriller with Malcolm McDowell splendid as H.G. Wells following Jack the Ripper (David Warner) from Victorian England to 1979 America in a time machine. Mary Steenburgen is the bewildered woman who befriends Wells.

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