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VIDEO DISCOVERY

December 27, 1990|DOUG LIST

"Smithereens" (1982), directed by Susan Seidelman. 90 minutes. No rating. In the spirit of the punk movement that inspired it, this film spews raw spontaneity, stars a mostly non-professional cast and looks as though it were made for a few thousand dollars. It focuses on Wren, a hyper, just-out-of-high-school Jersey girl trying to be a part of the New York punk scene, and a band called the Smithereens (a name used later by a real-life pop band).

"Smile" (1975), directed by Michael Ritchie. 113 minutes. Rated PG. One of a series of Michael Ritchie films about America's unbending faith in traditions and pageantry, no matter how tarnished. In this one, it's a beauty pageant that takes it on the chin. Look for an 18-year-old Melanie Griffith as one of the contestants.

"The Pajama Game" (1957), directed by Stanley Donen and George Abbott. 101 minutes. No rating. The plot is frivolous and obvious, the acting hammy, and much of the dialogue outright dumb, but who cares? This musical, starring Doris Day and John Raitt, is buoyed by Richard Adler/Jerry Ross songs and Bob Fosse choreography. And it's good clean American fun. --D.L.

"Moonlighting" (1982), directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. 97 minutes. Rated PG. An unforgettable story of four Polish construction workers sent to London to renovate the foreign getaway of their wealthy boss. It's comical, touching, newsy and political--a heartfelt tale of workingmen's values and Western consumerism.

"Heart Beat" (1980), directed by John Byrum. 109 minutes. Rated R. This character study of Beat Generation legends Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady and the woman they both loved is an enjoyable piece of nostalgia, a kind of '50s version of "Easy Rider." It stars Nick Nolte, John Heard and Sissy Spacek.

"Cutter's Way" (1981), directed by Ivan Passer. 109 minutes. Rated R. The story of a crippled veteran, his best friend and their efforts to solve a murder. It's one of the best introspective character studies in years, a welcome island of reality in Hollywood's sea of fantasy. "Orphans" (1987), directed by Alan J. Pakula. 120 minutes. Rated R. Albert Finney plays a blustery Chicago gangster who is abducted by a crazed third-rate thief and held in the dilapidated house the thief shares with his backward younger brother. With Midwestern gangster slang and alcohol-tainted good manners, Finney parodies both American films and American values, uproariously.

"The Killing" (1956), directed by Stanley Kubrick. 83 minutes. No rating. Very serious thugs plan the biggest score of their careers. An urgent, no-nonsense, unrelenting film by the man who went on to direct "Dr. Strangelove," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange."

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