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VHS Video

Drama


The Onion Field [VHS]

The Onion Field [VHS] Lowest new price: $8.86
Lowest used price: $3.01
List price: $8.86

One night in 1963, two plainclothes LAPD officers were abducted by armed small-time criminals after a routine traffic stop, then driven to a remote area where one was brutally executed. The other officer managed to escape and the perpetrators were captured and brought to trial. Despite overwhelming evidence, the slayers managed to drag the justice process on for years through appeals and delaying tactics, one of them making use of the prison law library to become a "jailhouse lawyer." Taken from the Joseph Wambaugh book, The Onion Field is a true story about a case that changed LAPD policies forever. More than a simple police procedural, though, the film is a character study that follows the aftermath of the murder for all involved. John Savage, as the surviving officer, is called on over and over to reenact the event in court, chided by his superiors and eventually fired from the force, with redemption a long way off. He does a great job in a harrowing role as frustration, guilt, and depression cause his life and career to disintegrate over time. There are impressive early performances by Ted Danson and James Woods (setting the tone for countless raw-nerve, psycho-lowlife roles that Woods would take on in the future). The compelling script, written by ex-cop Wambaugh (with no studio interference), is a reminder of why he's one of novelist James Ellroy's favorite writers. It's a story of tragedy and hope, dignity and pain, with a potent emotional payoff. --Jerry Renshaw


Flash [VHS]

Flash [VHS] Lowest new price: $29.99
Lowest used price: $15.34
List price: $9.99

The idyllic life of Connor Strong (Lucas Black, SLING BLADE), his dad (Brian Kerwin), grandmother (award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn), and horse Flash changes overnight when financial pressures force Connor's father to leave home and find work. Connor is forced to sell Flash, and then is heartbroken to discover that the new owners are cruel to his beloved horse. Connor rescues Flash, and together, they set off cross country to search for Connor's father. In classic Disney tradition, the adventures they have along the way will forever touch the hearts of young and old alike.

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Cast a Giant Shadow [VHS]

Cast a Giant Shadow [VHS] Lowest new price: $5.32
Lowest used price: $2.89
List price: $14.95

Action


Lancelot of the Lake [VHS]

Lancelot of the Lake [VHS] Lowest used price: $6.25

This 1974 masterpiece by the late Robert Bresson (Mouchette) is a remarkable act of mythic revisionism. Stripped bare of its enduring romance, the Arthurian legend in Bresson's hands becomes an ugly and uncomfortably familiar vision of powerful men capable of cruelty, rivalry, disillusionment, and self-destruction. Lancelot (Luc Simon) is portrayed as a ruthless and ignoble opportunist who returns from his impossibly futile mission to locate the Holy Grail, only to callously rekindle his affair with Guinevere (Laura Duke Condominas). The emotional impact of the film is that of pure shock: the Arthurian ideal turns out to have little chance in the real world, and as there may be nothing worse than a hollow dream, the Knights of the Round Table descend into selfishness. Known as the great minimalist of French cinema, Bresson uses his trademark repression of energy--editing action sequences so that the visual emphasis is on tiny details--to create a tension that finally snaps with the mucky dissipation of the dream on unhallowed ground: Camelot ending not with a bang or a whimper but with the last clank of armor in a deluded cause. --Tom Keogh


Sometimes a Great Notion [VHS]

Sometimes a Great Notion [VHS] Lowest used price: $7.55
List price: $9.98

Paul Newman, an American original, would seem to be the perfect choice to direct a film adaptation of the second novel by another American original--Ken Kesey. But Kesey's novel, written under the influence of both LSD and growing fame, was a mishmash, and Newman's film can't rescue it. It also seems strange to see the ultraliberal Newman starring as a strike-busting logger who honors a contract on principle, rather than observe union concerns, bringing all sorts of misery down on his family. Henry Fonda is interesting as Newman's father, but the film never finds its footing. One killer sequence, however: Richard Jaeckel, as Newman's brother, trapped under a log in a river, slowly drowning despite Newman's best efforts to save him. --Marshall Fine


The Anniversary [VHS]

The Anniversary [VHS] Lowest new price: $13.93
Lowest used price: $4.00
List price: $13.93

Davis has great fun as the domineering, one-eyed matriarch of a clan of spineless sons who return each year to observe her anniversary even though dear Dad has been departed for a decade. This year, they have a special surprise for the old battleax. . .

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  • videotape


Gulag [VHS]

Lowest new price: $79.99
Lowest used price: $14.45
List price: $14.99

Suspence movie


Hanussen [VHS]

Hanussen [VHS] Lowest new price: $95.98
Lowest used price: $11.50

A man's story parallels Hitler's rise. Austrian Klaus Schneider, wounded in World War I, recovers in the care of Dr. Emil Bettleheim. Bettleheim discovers that Schneider possesses powers of empathy and of clairvoyance, such that could aid suicidal patients. After the war, with one friend as his manager and another as his lover, Schneider changes his name to Eric Jan Hanussen and goes to Berlin, as a hypnotist and clairvoyant performing in halls and theaters. He always speaks the truth, which brings him to the attention of powerful Nazis. He predicts their rise (good propaganda for them) and their violence (not so good). He's in pain and at risk. What is Hanussen's future?

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Railway Station Man [VHS]

Railway Station Man [VHS] Lowest new price: $123.00
Lowest used price: $17.65
List price: $14.98

An Irish widow falls for a man with ties to the IRA.

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Wild Strawberries [VHS]

Wild Strawberries [VHS] Lowest new price: $7.99
Lowest used price: $2.55

One of the acknowledged classics of the cinema, Wild Strawberries confronts eternal questions of loneliness, aging, and mortality with a warmth and humanity not often found in Bergman's austere world. This visually rich and dramatic film follows an aged doctor's journey through a compelling landscape of dream and memory as he travels to receive an honorary degree. Haunting flashbacks and incidents along the way force him to confront his life and its failings. Victor Sjostrom gives a superb, affecting performance as the doctor. Bergman's dramatic use of light and dark to reveal the human mind and soul ranks Wild Strawberries among the world's greatest cinematic achievements.

An elderly college professor sets out in his car to receive an honorary degree--and takes a trip instead through his own past and subconscious--in this bittersweet but ultimately tender and understanding 1957 film by Swedish master Ingmar Bergman. Casting Swedish star Victor Sjöström in the lead, Bergman, then at the height of his powers as an international filmmaker, uses flashbacks and bright, lyrical storytelling to capture the full arc of one man's life: the successes that seem fleeting, the disappointments that linger in the memory, the regrets that never seem to let go. In some ways, it can be seen as a forerunner of Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, except that Bergman's sense of irony is always more profound. --Marshall Fine

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