Gregory Kirschling
July 15, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW reviews three Gene Hackman DVDs

”With her it’s sex?” a weepy Ellen Burstyn asks husband Gene Hackman in Twice in a Lifetime, a sensitive divorce drama that finds her wondering why Hackman’s steel-mill man is jilting her late in life for jezebel barmaid Ann-Margret. ”Of course it’s sex,” Hackman replies testily. ”It’s important.” Good scene, but it’s jarring, too, because it reminds you just how rarely this master actor has been asked to play a man in heat over the course of his long career. And that’s probably what’s most striking about Lifetime and two other new Hackman DVD releases: He gets a little randy in all of them.

Night Moves is not a porno, just a sultry PI noir with a so-so mystery plot that finds Hackman (sporting a nice shamus mustache) getting cuckolded by his wife in the first few minutes. But then he heads to Florida in search of a runaway teen (a beguiling young Melanie Griffith), and before long he and surfside beauty Jennifer Warren are sexifying Florida’s muggy air several years before Body Heat. In Scarecrow, a great forgotten ’70s film lushly shot by The Deer Hunter‘s Vilmos Zsigmond, he and Al Pacino are hoboes drifting cross-country toward Pittsburgh, braking here and there for women. ”You cute little motor scooter, you,” Hackman coos at one lady in a come-on full of sweet and glorious lechery. This is a wonderful actors’ movie; Pacino, too, has never been so guileless.

Hackman is absent from all the modest extras, and skip the deadly commentary on Lifetime, since director Bud Yorkin and Ann-Margret cop to not having seen the flick lately. ”I play the part of Ariel,” says Ann-Margret, who actually plays the part of Audrey. That’s not so sexy. Lifetime: B
Night: B+
Scarecrow: A-

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