‘Hucksters,’ ‘Tea and Sympathy’ for Devotees of Deborah Kerr : THIS WEEK’S MOVIES

If Deborah Kerr is your cup of tea, then you can sip slowly from two of the British actress’s films this weekend--though they’re not quite her best. Also being served: one of 1990’s most undeservingly neglected comedies.

The Kerr dramas (both from MGM/UA and priced at $19.98) are “The Hucksters” (1947) and “Tea and Sympathy” (1956).

Kerr’s first U.S. film, “The Hucksters,” took a relatively early stab at what would become a favorite Hollywood target in the ‘50s--advertising. Though never quite as sharply satirical it should be, “The Hucksters” boasts a terrific cast--not only Kerr but also Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Sydney Greenstreet, Keenan Wynn and Adolphe Menjou.

Though Robert Anderson adapted his own play, “Tea and Sympathy” was smothered by Hollywood’s reticence to say anything about homosexuality at the time. The drama became a nice--too-nice and much-too-quiet--picture about a teacher’s wife who tries to “save” a “misunderstood” young man. Vincente Minnelli directs classily, but as if he is handling an antique teacup. John Kerr (no relation) plays the troubled student, as he did on Broadway.


Based on quite a different sort of play, “Daddy’s Dyin’ ... Who’s Got the Will?” (MGM/UA, $89.98, PG-13) also suffers in comparison to the original, even though it too was adapted by the playwright himself (Del Shores). The movie robs its central character (played too solemnly by Tess Harper) of spunk--and lines--and goes awry in a couple of other places (above all the clumsy appearance of Daddy’s ghost at the end). But the sweet ‘n’ sassy mix was still one of this year’s most enjoyable comedies, largely thanks to fine performances by Beau Bridges, Beverly D’Angelo, Judge Reinhold and especially Patrika Darbo (the cause of Dan’s sexy dreams on a recent “Roseanne”).

The two other best bets for the weekend consist of a golden oldie and a powerful foreign film.


If your poor old country heart is broken up over the recent announcement of a split between the mother and daughter who make up the Judds, sooth your misery with “The Judds: Love Can Build a Bridge” (MPI, $19.98), an hour of music (including a 3D clip--glasses included), hair and documentary footage that focuses on Naomi’s wedding.


For more music, there’s “Frank Sinatra: The Reprise Collection” (Warner Reprise, $69.98), a boxed set of three cassettes containing the 1965-1973 TV specials seen earlier this year on the Disney Channel. And there’s also “Bon Jovi: Access All Areas,” “Moody Blues: Legend of a Band” and “Tony! Toni! Tone!: Vidyo! Vidio! Video!” (all from PMV, $19.95 each).