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From History of 'The West' to Some Secrets of Middle East


Several eclectic TV documentaries, covering such subjects as country music and Egyptian mummies, will be released Tuesday on home video.

Turner Home Entertainment and PBS Home Video are offering Ken Burns' latest historical epic, "The West," in single installments ($20), as well as a nine-volume set ($150). The 12 1/2-hour chronicle of the American West premiered on PBS last Sunday and concludes its run the same day it debuts in video stores. "The West" also has been available through mail order from Time-Life Home Video since late July.

Also new from Turner is the acclaimed TBS documentary miniseries "America's Music: The Roots of Country" ($25 each; $60 for three-volume set). The six-hour film takes an in-depth look at America's popular and enduring music genre.

Frank Langella narrates "Mummies and the Wonders of Ancient Egypt" (A&E, $60), a fascinating, four-volume set that explores the great pyramids, the Sphinx, hieroglyphics and King Tut. However, the squeamish will want to fast-forward during the segment in the first volume that rather graphically demonstrates how bodies were mummified.

Bob Vila puts down his hammers and saws and takes viewers on a fun journey around the country to visit some neat old houses in the three-volume set "Bob Vila's Guide to Historic Homes of America" (A&E, $60). Vila tours classic domiciles in New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and California.

Recent Emmy winner Rip Torn narrates "The Hindenburg" (A&E, $30), a two-volume documentary that chronicles the history of the zeppelin from the struggles of its legendary creator, Count Zeppelin, to the destruction of the grand Hindenburg over a New Jersey airfield in 1937. Included are film clips and interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses and historical experts.

To order any of the A&E videos, call (800) 423-1212.


Shakur, Prowse and Nelson: Three of the late rapper Tupac Shakur's features are available on video: "Juice" (Paramount, $14), Ernest Dickerson's 1992 drama about four Harlem youths; "Poetic Justice" (Columbia TriStar, $20), John Singleton's 1993 drama in which Shakur plays a postal worker who falls for a poetic hairdresser (Janet Jackson); and 1994's "Above the Rim" (Columbia TriStar), in which he plays a hustler.

Dancer-actress Juliet Prowse, who lost her battle with cancer last week, dances a mean cancan in the 1960 Cole Porter musical "Can-Can" (Fox, $20) and plays Elvis Presley's love interest in the tuneful 1960 musical, "G.I. Blues" (Fox, $15).

Veteran hoofer/director Gene Nelson, who died earlier this week, appeared in several Warner Bros. musical comedies, including the so-so 1950 James Cagney-Doris Day vehicle "The West Point Story" (Warner, $20) and the enjoyable 1950 Doris Day flick "Tea for Two" (Warner, $20). Nelson is best remembered for his sprightly turn as cowboy Will Parker in the 1955 film version of "Oklahoma!" (Fox, $20).


Elvis on Video: On Jan. 14, 1973, Elvis Presley's "Aloha From Hawaii" TV concert was beamed to 1 billion viewers worldwide. Two days before, the King taped his rehearsal in front of a huge and adoring crowd. On Tuesday, Lightyear Entertainment is releasing the "alternate" performance ($20). Essentially, it's the same show Presley performed on his TV broadcast, but he did have a major hair restyling after this rehearsal. To order, call (800) 229-7867.


Killer Bs: Chad McQueen (son of Steve) stars in "Red Line" (Orion), a Grade D action-flick about a race-car driver who turns to crime. The cast includes Jan-Michael Vincent, who did this film shortly after suffering injuries in a car accident.

Corey Feldman and Al Lewis (Grandpa from "The Munsters") star in the ghastly sex comedy "South Beach Academy" (Live). Watch at your own risk.

Cotter Smith stars in "Lifeform" (Live), a lifeless, low-budget clone of "Aliens" and "Species."


Oldies but Goodies: On Tuesday, FoxVideo releases a THX-mastered edition of the 1964 Oscar-winning "My Fair Lady" ($20), starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. The beloved Lerner-Loewe musical will be available in pan-and-scan and letterbox.

Home Vision is unveiling a 50th anniversary remastered edition of the glorious French film classic "Beauty and the Beast" ($25), starring Jean Marais and Josette Day.

New Yorker Video has re-priced ($30 each) two of Louis Malle's early classics: "The Lovers" and "The Fire Within." The latter is an exceptional drama featuring Maurice Ronet's uncompromising performance as an alcoholic.


Coming Next Week: Walt Disney's 27th full-length animated feature, "Oliver & Company" (Disney, $27), features the talents of Bette Midler, Billy Joel and Cheech Marin. The 1988 musical inspired by Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" tells the tale of an orphaned kitten who falls in with a lovable gang of dogs.

Dennis Hopper bares his soul and a whole lot more in the romantic drama "Carried Away" (New Line), which also stars Amy Irving and Amy Locane.

Martin Lawrence stars in and directed the dark comedy "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (New Line).

Andre Techine directed the award-winning French coming-of-age drama "Wild Reeds" (Fox Lorber).

Henry Jaglom stars in and directed "Venice/Venice" (Fox Lorber), a 1992 drama about a maverick U.S. director who meets a beautiful French journalist (Nelly Alard) at the Venice Film Festival.

Melanie Griffith and hubby Antonio Banderas star in the ill-fated comedy "Two Much" (Touchstone).

Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson star in the drama "Before and After" (Hollywood).

Luke Wilson and Owen C. Wilson star in the acclaimed caper comedy "Bottle Rocket" (Columbia TriStar). . . . Also new: "If Lucy Fell" (Columbia TriStar), "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (Hallmark), "Virtual Seduction" (New Horizons) and "Evil Ed" (A-Pix).

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