EW Staff
November 16, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

New and reissued video reviews the week of November 16, 1990

New on Tape
Baseball Classics, Vols. 1 and 2 (1990, Worldwide)
With the World Series over and hot stove leagues stoking up, here’s an ideal way for purists to kick off their winter ball season: 120 minutes of inning-by-inning newsreel-style highlights of three World Series — 1952 and ’53 (Yankees vs. Dodgers) and ’54 (Indians vs. Giants) — plus vintage facets-of-the-game interviews with the likes of Warren Spahn, Ralph Kiner, and Jackie Robinson. This is no spiffed-up nostalgia trip pandering to restless viewers. This is straight-from-the-bottle baseball. A

Bird on a Wire (1990, MCA/ Universal, PG-13)
Even in an era of paint-by-numbers moviemaking, director John Badham has brought off some sort of feat. He’s made a film that’s 100 percent generic. It should have been called Romantic Action Comedy. Mel Gibson, in a performance that might be described as Lethal Weapon lite,” plays a former ’60s radical who runs into ex-flame Goldie Hawn, now a lawyer, while on the lam from some government stooges. The movie is nothing but machine-tooled wisecracks and endless car chases. It pummels you with its formula until there’s nothing left to do but give in. D

Cadillac Man (1990, Orion, R)
Robin Williams plays Joey O’Brien, a used-car salesman in Queens who never, ever stops hustling. Tim Robbins is the machine gun-toting prole who takes everyone in the showroom hostage in an attempt to find out who has been fooling around with his wife. The movie begins as a human comedy about Joey’s economic desperation and then turns into a canned farce, a comic gloss on Dog Day Afternoon. Williams doesn’t really get a chance to cut loose, but he’s charming anyway, and Robbins makes a beguiling crazy. Cadillac Man would have made a great Saturday Night Live sketch, but it’s barely a movie. It’s just one pressure-cooker situation stretched out to feature length. B-

Custer’s Last Trooper (1990, Classic Telepublishing)
A 1985 archaeological dig in Montana’s Little Bighorn valley turned up the human skull of a participant in what the narrator calls ”the best known, least understood battle in U.S. history.” As the visage of this ”last trooper” is reconstructed by a sculptor, we are treated to an informative mixed-media re- creation of the controversial June 1876 battle that makes use of dramatic readings, cartological animation, and movie excerpts (1941’s They Died With Their Boots On). The film steers clear of judgments on Custer’s character and touchy sociopolitical issues (we’re told only that the Native Americans had been ordered onto reservations?or else). Diffuse, but of interest to buffs. B-

Eternity (1990, Academy, R)
Jon Voight’s character in this movie isn’t just another dogged TV journalist — he’s also a reincarnated medieval prince. Yes, he is. And his previous-life nemesis (Armand Assante) is now an evil media baron-arms dealer-polluter. The lead actors take differing approaches: Voight twitches self-righteously, and Assante steamrollers through like Kirk Douglas on pep pills. The film’s makers obviously believe in this New Age mumbo-jumbo. But at more than two hours Eternity is less a vanity film than a massively inept ego trip, so awful that it’s perversely fascinating. F

Frankenhooker (1990, Shapiro/Glickenhaus, Unrated and R)
Cult director Frank Henenlotter has shown a genius for walking the line between cheeseball camp and disturbingly thoughtful horror. Frankenhooker, alas, suggests that all the good press is making him lazy. This splattery farce about a nerd from New Jersey who resurrects his fiancée using body parts from Times Square hookers offers depressingly obvious yahoo humor; it lacks the sneaky weirdness that made schlock screamers like Basket Case and the superb Brain Damage worthwhile even for non-horror fans. Available in R and uncut, unrated versions, both of which come in talking video boxes that arefunnier than anything in the movie. C-

Night of the Cyclone (1990, Republic, R)
The career of Kris Kristofferson, world’s funkiest Rhodes scholar, just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Here he’s stuck playing a standard tough-but- kind NYC cop who goes to the Comoro Islands to rescue his runaway daughter from tropical troubles. The movie’s not bad action fodder and better than it should be, even if the star wears one dyspeptic expression throughout. C-

Simple Justice (1990, J2, R)
Young Italian goombah loses his pregnant wife to slavering hoods, then mopes around while a mystery killer offs the bad guys. This low-budget retread (the only ”name” actor is Cesar Romero, who looks like he misses his Batman days) boils the vigilante genre down to its most knuckleheaded signifiers, with an icing of sentimental ethnic posturing that makes Rocky seem terse. If you can’t figure out who dunnit in the first five minutes, this spud’s for you. F

Tales of Tomorrow: The Evil Within (1990, Rhino)
This 1952 episode from an ABC omnibus series is billed as a never-before-on-video performance by 21-year-old James Dean. Well, the icon-in-waiting is here, all right-for one scene lasting 2 ¾ minutes. The actor who’s on-screen for most of the half- hour program is Rod Steiger, and he’s fun to watch. (There’s a second episode on the video release, featuring no once or future stars.) Now, if Steiger had died in 1955, we’d really have something. D

Reissued
Moonstruck (1987, MGM/ UA, PG)
In this Brooklyn Italian fairy tale, a funeral parlor bookkeeper (Cher) agrees to marry a middle-aged mama’s boy (Danny Aiello) — but when he goes off to Sicily, she makes more than peace with his brother (Nicolas Cage). It won Oscars for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis), and — despite the script’s surplus of quaint Italian-Americanisms — Best Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley). B+

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST