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‘Platoon’ Unlikely to Be Out by Christmas ‘Dirty Dancing’ Is a Coming Attraction

Times Staff Writer

It’s looks like there will be no “Platoon” for Christmas.

The court battle between HBO Video and Vestron Video for the home video rights to “Platoon” is still raging. HBO printed up 351,000 copies for the planned release Oct. 14. But since Oct. 9 Vestron has held up the release with injunctions. According to sources, an out-of-court settlement is possible but unlikely before Christmas.

The pay-per-view and cable TV debuts may be affected by the litigation delays. If “Platoon” had been released in October, it would have been available on pay-per-view next month and on cable TV in March. Now, like the “Platoon” release date on home video, the pay-per-view and cable debut dates are uncertain.

DUBBING WOES: Foreign film fans are purists. They like their films with subtitles-- not dubbed. For them, there’s nothing more maddening than renting a movie that turns out to be dubbed.

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Yet it happens all too often, reports Meir Hed, co-owner of Videotheque, a three-store local chain that does a huge business in foreign films.

“The packages aren’t labeled properly sometimes--more often than you think, actually,” he said. “Some aren’t labeled at all. You assume they’re in subtitles but they turn out to be dubbed. Many companies that put out foreign films are small and don’t pay attention to that kind of detail.”

Some films are only available in the dubbed version--for instance, MGM/UA’s “The Assault,” the Dutch film that won the best foreign-language film Oscar this year. “It’s done well on home video, but it could have done even better if they had also offered it with subtitles,” Hed insisted. “Some foreign film buffs wouldn’t go near it.”

And then, Hed argued, there are those films that are dubbed without regard to the artistic consequences. He cited Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt.” “It’s a movie about miscommunication and the language barrier,” he said. “You dub it and you defeat the whole purpose of the movie.”

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COMING MOVIES: “Dirty Dancing,” which has grossed more than $50 million and spawned a No. 1 album and a No. 1 single, will be out Jan. 6 on Vestron. Another big hit, Orion’s “RoboCop,” is due Jan. 28. RCA/Columbia has moved the release of “La Bamba” from Jan. 28 to Jan. 21.

Next week: “Roxanne,” “The Secret of My Success,” “House II,” “Masters of the Universe,” “Eat the Peach,” “The Gate” and “The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland.”

Also next week: MGM/UA is releasing three Fred Astaire oldies--"The Barkleys of Broadway” (1949), “Three Little Words” (1950) and “The Belle of New York” (1951)--at $29.95 each.

NEW RELEASES: Warners’ “Ratboy” could have been an all-out tear-jerker but director Sondra Locke--who’s also the star--shows admirable restraint, making it only a mild weeper. You feel sorry for this grotesque young half-human, half-rat who’s exploited by an insensitive schemer (Locke). While she’s trying to turn him into a media star, this naive ugly duckling falls for her and suffers the slings and arrows of unrequited love. This dark fairy tale teems with messages, the most obvious being that beauty is only skin-deep. Ratboy is played by Sharon Baird in a rat face designed by Rick Baker. As a ghetto con-artist, Robert Townsend upstages even Ratboy.

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Vestron’s “Personal Services” stars Julie Walters as a bold, bawdy London madam modeled after the notorious Cynthia Payne. The movie chronicles her rise from waitress to reluctant prostitute to enthusiastic madam of a brothel that caters to the kinky sex habits of the British upper crust. Director Terry Jones of Monty Python is empathic toward their perversities, which are presented in detail. The movie, which might be called a screwball drama, has more wry, cynical comedy than no-nonsense drama. Walters’ stunning performance is the movie’s driving force.

Vista’s “Delta Force Commando” is a combination buddy movie and bloody war movie. Two U.S. soldiers (Brett Clark and Fred Williamson)--invincible, of course--take on a battalion of revolutionaries in the Nicaraguan jungle. The film makers try to spice up the story by presenting the bickering buddies in a love-hate relationship. It doesn’t help. The acting is terrible but there are a number of dazzling action scenes.

Pacific Arts’ “Heaven” is Diane Keaton’s superficial, surrealistic documentary on attitudes toward afterlife, with interviews interspersed with clips from movies as diverse as “Metropolis,” “A Guy Named Joe” and “Green Pastures.” Keaton, who’s never on screen, poses interesting questions. Is there a heaven? Is there sex in heaven? The problem is that she interviews a lot of kooks who give inane answers.

It’s hard to believe that a capable director like Alex Cox (“Sid & Nancy” and the current “Walker”) is responsible for Key Video’s chaotic satire, “Straight to Hell.” Though set in modern day, it’s supposedly a spoof of spaghetti westerns. The plot concerns four bandits who stumble into a town run by a clan of hoodlums, but you never really know what’s going on. Even the parade of cameos--Dennis Hopper, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones--doesn’t generate much interest. It features the Clash’s Joe Strummer and Sy Richardson.

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OLD MOVIES: MGM/UA’s “Summer Stock” (MGM/UA, 1950, $29.95). A lively musical noted for Judy Garland’s rousing rendition of “Get Happy” and Gene Kelly’s ingenious dance on newspapers. A summer stock company headed by an aggressive director (Kelly) encounters all sorts of obstacles--some of them romantic--while trying to put on a show. A major chore for the troupe is taming a feisty farmer (Garland) who doesn’t like show biz or the director. The problem with this otherwise entertaining musical is that the chemistry between Garland and Kelly isn’t very strong.

“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” (Republic, 1950, $29.95). This largely forgotten gangster movie stars James Cagney. It’s the one that followed his great “White Heat” (1949). In this one, Cagney plays a daring, cold-blooded hoodlum who’s blackmailing a crooked cop (Ward Bond) while romancing two women (Barbara Payton and Helena Carter). This violent, fast-paced melodrama is as good as any gangster movie of the ‘50s.

Academy’s “Streetfight,” originally called “Coonskin,” is cartoonist Ralph Bakshi’s controversial, complexly structured, part-cartoon, part-live-action movie, which had limited release in 1975. The hero is a country rabbit who becomes a force in Harlem by battling crooked cops and the Mafia. It’s full of searing, violent vignettes about life in Harlem. This remarkable, unsettling movie is a stinging, often vicious satire that spares no one. Because of his harsh caricatures of blacks, many condemned it as racist. But it’s the Mafia, which is really ridiculed, that should have been out to get Bakshi.


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