Paramount Lays Out '88 Release Schedules; 'RoboCop,' 'Wolf at Door' Arrive for Rental

Times Staff Writer

One of the big problems in the rental market is insufficient inventory to meet consumer demand. Too often fans go to video stores to rent a title that's unavailable.

Paramount feels that one way to attack the problem is for distributors to order more wisely. But shrewd advance planning isn't always possible, since companies usually announce debut dates only 6 to 8 weeks before shipping.

Distributors will have plenty of time to plan for Paramount's "A" titles. At a Wednesday press conference, executives announced the approximate release dates--through September--of some of its major movies: "The Untouchables" (March), "Fatal Attraction" (June), "Raw" (July), "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (August) and "She's Having My Baby" (September). "Beverly Hills Cop II" was previously announced as a March 9 release.

COMING MOVIES: Lorimar's "Matewan," John Sayles' drama about striking miners in 1920s West Virginia, is due out March 2. Director Clive Barker's noted horror film, "Hellraiser," is scheduled for March 8 release on New World. "Amazon Women on the Moon" will be available March 10 on MCA. Director Michael Cimino's "The Sicilian" will be in the stores April 13 on Vestron.

Next week: "No Way Out," "Jaws: The Revenge," "He's My Girl" and "In the Mood." The week of Feb. 7: "Spaceballs," "The Monster Squad," "Castaway" and "Steele Justice."

NEW RELEASES: Orion's gory, fast-paced "RoboCop" is one of the giants of the action-adventure genre. After being shot to pieces in the not-too-distant future, the remains of a Detroit cop (Peter Weller) are used as the essence of a nearly invincible robot who sets out to clean up the crime-ridden city. Though this is as bloody as any of these films ever gets, its cartoon-like quality somewhat softens the violence. The cyborg is shrewdly humanized, partly through its relationship with a lady cop (Nancy Allen). Directed by Paul Verhoeven, it's full of wickedly clever touches. There's also a setup for a sequel--"Mr. and Mrs. RoboCop."

In IVE's "Lady Beware," a steamy thriller, a handsome X-Ray technician (Michael Woods) develops a fatal attraction for a sexy window dresser (Diane Lane) whose erotic window displays turn him on. Tuning into her fantasies and imagining himself to be her sexual soul mate, he becomes obsessed and terrorizes her. These two play an intriguing psychological cat-and-mouse game throughout. You might wonder why the police aren't more involved, but that lapse doesn't really spoil this fairly taut tale. It would be even better if Lane were a more convincing actress.

OLD MOVIES: "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" (MGM/UA, 1949, $29.50). A slight but high-spirited musical that entertains without ever really grabbing you. It's famous as the last full-length feature directed by that wizard of dance-directing, Busby Berkeley. Set early in the century, it stars Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as baseball players on a team that has to adjust to a feisty new owner (Esther Williams). Of course, the owner winds up romancing one of the players. The Kelly-Williams combination, however, doesn't really sizzle. Surprisingly, given all the talent, there are no knockout dance numbers. Williams, naturally, gets to swim a bit.

"The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell" (Republic, 1955, $29.95). What's missing in this movie, directed by Otto Preminger, is a stronger portrait of Mitchell (Gary Cooper), a World War I ace who was trying to persuade the government that America needed an air force. His rebellious behavior in pursuit of his ideals led to his court martial in 1925. Cooper's dry portrayal takes some of the sting out of this movie, which feels more like a history lesson. Rod Steiger, who appears near the end as a prosecutor, enlivens the climactic trial.

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