Sharp Contrasts Share Shelf Space


A video store is a great place to go if you want to see sharp contrasts side by side. Within just a few square feet are not only love and war, drama and comedy, but also children’s videos and X-rated tapes.

But for radically differing videocassettes this weekend, you need look no further than the new-release display--where “The Little Mermaid” and “Harlem Nights” share space.

“The Little Mermaid” (Walt Disney, $26.99, G) is a sweet, lively animated adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale--one of the best post-classic-period Disney full-length cartoons. Great for the whole family.


“Harlem Nights” (Paramount, priced for rental, R) is a crude, unfunny comedy starring and directed (poorly) by Eddie Murphy. Also starring in this nightclub-owners-vs.-the-mob story are Arsenio Hall, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor. Not great for the whole family.

But it’s a great week for fans of Westerns: One of the art’s first epics, James Cruze’s “The Covered Wagon,” comes to video at a great price--only $14.95 from Paramount. The 1923 silent creaks along slowly but it’s beautifully photographed and was very influential on later genre films.

Counting a TV version called “The Godchild,” “Three Godfathers” has been filmed at least five times! The 1948 John Ford version has just been released by MGM/UA for $19.95. This last theatrical rendering of the story about three outlaws and a baby features vivid color photography and a great cast.

Also new from Paramount are two just-fair “B Westerns"--"Branded” (1950, starring Alan Ladd, directed by Rudolph Mate) and “Hostile Guns” (1967, starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Tab Hunter, directed by R.G. Springsteen). They’re $14.95. Also, the same company has repriced these big-budget Westerns to that level: “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” “Bad Company,” “El Dorado,” “The Sons of Katie Elder” and “True Grit.”