Video . . . What’s New : Movies
Imagine owning your own copy of “Imagine: John Lennon,” last year’s theatrically shown documentary about the legendary singer, songwriter and ex-Beatle. Well, the film is out on video this week from Warner Home Video (MPAA rating: R)--but you’ll just have to keep on imagining ownership of the tape . . . unless you want to come up with $89.95.
Unfortunately for collectors, Warner has chosen a rental-oriented price rather than opting for a sell-through tag (usually $20-$30). That’s especially bad news for rock music fans who’d skipped buying the “Imagine: John Lennon” compact disc when it was released at the time of the theatrical run. The CD left off several songs available on the video’s digitally processed, hi-fi stereo sound track.
The $90 tag means less affluent Lennon fans will have to wait even longer to purchase the tape--until Warner reduces the price, in several months at the earliest.
Warner is simultaneously releasing the 1978 movie “I Want to Hold Your Hand” ($79.95, PG). Though the Beatles don’t star (it’s a fictional film about six teen-agers desperate for tickets to the group’s 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show), the film does have some interesting features: Robert Zemeckis (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”) directed; Steven Spielberg served as executive director; and many critics, while not raving, found the film mildly enjoyable.
Last year, Playhouse Video, a subsidiary of CBS/Fox, released a batch of Shirley Temple films, and this week another nine skip into video stores ($19.98 each). The child star is not the only thing minor about some of them, but among the more interesting are:
--"Wee Willie Winkie” (1937). India-set Kipling tale directed by John Ford. Unfortunately, the original 99-minute version has not been restored; this print runs 76 minutes.
--"Captain January” (1936). Not a great film, but one of the most fondly remembered for its lighthouse/fishing-port setting and Buddy Ebsen’s ebullient presence.
--"The Little Princess” (1939). For its Victorian setting and colorful production.
--"Stand Up and Cheer,” “Bright Eyes,” “Baby, Take a Bow” (all 1934). Three films where Shirley was very young and not quite so sure of herself; many fans find she had a special charm at this stage. Shirley is only sporadically featured in “Stand Up and Cheer,” but this wild Depression lampoon is notable for its hodgepodge of surreal comedy acts and oddball musical numbers.
The remaining Temples: “Our Little Girl” (1935), “Susannah of the Mounties” and “The Blue Bird” (1940), the last a flawed but occasionally pleasing attempt to cash in on “The Wizard of Oz.”
Other new cassettes include two TV movies, “Mayflower Madam” (Vidmark, $79.95), a toned-down version of Sydney Biddle Barrows’ book with Candice Bergen as Barrows, and “Steal the Sky” (HBO, $89.99), a weak telling of a potentially exciting story--how an Israeli secret-service agent (Mariel Hemingway) got an Iraqi pilot to fly his Soviet-made MIG to Israel and defect. Also new is another fighter-jet movie, “Iron Eagle II” (IVE, $89.95, PG).
Cartoon fans, Atten- shun!
Six new tapes are led by “Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons” (MGM/UA, $19.95). Fascinating both for their frantic humor and their World War II propaganda, these 11 cartoons, many rarely seen, include such gems as “Falling Hare” (Bugs vs. a gremlin), “Draftee Daffy” (the duck tries to escape the man from the draft board), and “Swooner Crooner” (Porky Pig, present despite his lack of billing in the video title, gets his chickens to lay eggs with the help of a Crosby-like singer). Film/animation historian Leonard Maltin hosts.
Three other collections from MGM/UA are “Bugs Bunny Classics,” “Tweety & Sylvester” and “Just Plain Daffy,” each $14.95, about an hour long, and highly recommended. Of considerably less interest are two tapes from Warner, “Bugs and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals” and “Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court,” each a $14.95, 24-minute TV special from the late ‘70s.