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Home Entertainment : Images of Motherhood on Laser Disc

May 06, 1994|BARBARA SALTZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If Mom can't say her kid is a doctor or lawyer or President, what's the next best thing? That guy putting you at the top of his list, and thanking you on Oscar night as 100 million people check out your beaming face? Maybe a couple of moms have it even better. This Mother's Day, they can pick up two new laser-disc releases and freeze-frame their own images. Of course, right after they applaud their son's name in the director's credit.

Image's new wide-screen THX edition of the 1989 romantic comedy hit "When Harry Met Sally . . ." ($40) gives Estelle Reiner a chance to relive one of the most memorable moments in cinema. Son Rob Reiner couldn't have given her a better slice of film history. Just zip to Chapter Stop 19 on Side One for an instant replay of her classic one-liner. It follows Meg Ryan's offering Billy Crystal something not on the restaurant menu--proof that, yes indeed, women can fake it and even Don Juan won't have a clue.

Enhancing that moment and helping you savor the rest of the eminently rewatchable tribute to love and friendship is a sharp digital film transfer and THX sound, underscoring that THX may be spectacular in action-packed films, but is still most welcome in a quieter environment.

The sumptuous visual, literary and period feast that Martin Scorsese serves up in "Age of Innocence" (Columbia TriStar Home Video, $40) also continues his series filmic "thank-you" notes to his mother and father. As they have in many of the director's other films, Catherine and Luciano Charles Scorsese venture on-screen in the Oscar-nominated film starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. Scorsese's father suffered a heart attack the day after their close-up on a staircase. "That was the last image that we saw of him on film," Scorsese has said. The film is dedicated to the elder Scorsese, who died before its release.

Two decades earlier, the filmmaker's parents were the subject of Scorsese's affecting exploration of his roots in a documentary called "Italianamerican." The 1974 film is among "Three by Scorsese," released a few years ago by Criterion ($50). The other short features are "The Big Shave" from 1967 and "American Boy" from 1978.

But it is the time spent with the Scorseses, originally shot for a public-television series on immigrant families, that is the most compelling. In some ways, it parallels the "testimony" of the various couples interjected throughout "When Harry Met Sally . . ." But we know this is real, a home movie by a premier filmmaker that makes us wish we could also discover our parents, and so ourselves, in much the same way.

While few filmmakers have put their moms on camera, fewer still have trained their lenses on in-laws, or near-in-laws. In "Hannah and Her Sisters," Woody Allen, then still enamored of Mia Farrow, brought Farrow's mom, Maureen O'Sullivan, into the picture. Available in an Image Entertainment release ($40), the 1986 film remains one of Allen's most tender.

Of course, on Mother's Day, moms--surrounded by their families, of course--could always spend the day watching films on laser about moms and dads and kids. Put "Mrs. Doubtfire" (Fox/Image, $40), "Parenthood" (MCA, $35), "I Remember Mama" (Republic, $30) and "Mommy Dearest" (Paramount, $35) all together and you may have a film that comes close to spelling "M-O-T-H-E-R."

(And if you can wait till fall, you can find "Mrs. Doubtfire" in a promised wide-screen, THX director-approved edition with additional footage and other supplementary material, for $100.)

Laserbits

New Movies Just Out: "A Perfect World" (Warner, $40); "What's Love Got to Do With It" (Touchstone, letterboxed, $40); "Malice" (New Line, $40); "Fearless" (Warner, $40); "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (Warner, $40); "The Beverly Hillbillies" (FoxVideo, $40); "The Saint of Fort Washington" (Warner, $35).

Older Movies Just Out: "The Electric Horseman" (MCA/Universal, $40, 1979), directed by Sydney Pollack and featuring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford; "Kid Galahad" (MGM/UA, $35, 1962), the Elvis Presley starrer about a boxing champion, featuring six songs; "Jumping Jacks" (Paramount, $35, 1952), the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy about paratroopers.

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