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<i> Video Reviews and News</i> : **** Excellent *** Good ** Ordinary * Poor : <i> Recent videocassette releases, reviewed by Times critics.</i> : Movies

<i> Compiled by Terry Atkinson</i>

* * * 1/2 “Black Orpheus.”

Connoisseur . $79.95. 1958 .

The major art-movie hit of its day--winner of the foreign film Oscar and the grand prize of both the Cannes and Venice festivals--Marcel Camus’ 1958 second feature has survived the near eclipse of its director’s reputation. Its timing was expert. Educated audiences in the civil-rights era appreciated its almost all-black cast (headed by Breno Mello and the hauntingly lovely Marpessa Dawn); its dazzling Rio de Janeiro scenery (Jean Bourgoin’s serenely lit mountainside shots); the juxtaposition of ancient cultural motifs (the Orpheus/Eurydice legend) and carnival lowlife; and, above all, the pulsating, throbbingly rhythmic, virtually nonstop samba-laden score by the then-unknown Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa. The film may have its moments of awkwardness or naivete--the horror-movie interlude in “Hell,” for example--but it still casts a spell.


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