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'The Sting' Tops a Quartet of Oldies Worth Seeing

November 05, 1998|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four terrific golden oldies arrive at video stores on Tuesday.

Universal Home Video is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Oscar-winning classic "The Sting" ($20) with a special anniversary edition. The film, of course, stars the oh-so-hot Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Directed by George Roy Hill--who also directed Redford and Newman in the beloved 1969 western adventure "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid"--this delectable, clever caper deals with two con artists who arrange an elaborate sting against the powerful crime lord (Robert Shaw) who murdered their friend (Robert Earl Jones).

"The Sting" marks the only time Redford was nominated for a best actor Oscar.

The 25th anniversary edition is available in both pan and scan and wide-screen versions. The pan and scan cassette also includes a music CD containing four of the sprightly Scott Joplin tunes from the film's soundtrack.

The small New York-based distributor Milestone Film & Video has three vintage titles in the offing this month.

"The Bat Whispers" ($30) isn't a good film. In fact, it creaks like an old wooden floor. But the 1930 thriller is a visual treat of creepy shadows and sweeping, innovative camera work. "The Bat Whispers" also happens to be one of the early talkies that was shot in a rare wide-screen process called Magnifilm. The pristine letterbox print was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

"Night Tide" ($30), from 1963, is a moody, atmospheric thriller starring a boyish Dennis Hopper as Johnny, a lonely young sailor who meets a mysterious, beautiful woman (Linda Lawson) named Mora, who works as a mermaid on the Santa Monica Pier. After they fall in love, Johnny learns that Mora's last two boyfriends disappeared without a trace. This special edition was transferred from a pristine 35mm negative with the approval of director Curtis Harrington, making "Night Tide" available for the first time in its original wide-screen format.

Rounding out the Milestone collection is 1964's haunting Japanese drama "Woman in the Dunes." Nominated for Oscars for best foreign film and best director (Hiroshi Teshigara), this compelling allegory tells the eerie story of an amateur biologist (Eiji Okada) who escapes the hustle and bustle of the city by studying beetles in remote sand dunes. After he misses the last bus home, villagers offer to let him spend the night at a widow's (Kyoka Kishida) home at the bottom of a deep sand pit. In the morning, he discovers that he is her prisoner. A true original, this is must-see for discerning film fans.

To order any of the Milestone videos call (800) 603-1104.

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