If Titanic and the Jurassic Parks have you itching to learn more about the behemoths of land and sea, A&E is your best bet. Dinosaur (four volumes, $59.95) tracks Barney's ancestors from the 1824 discovery of a giant fossilized tooth to today's Spielberg-inspired rediscoveries. Walter Cronkite hosts. Titanic (four volumes, $59.95) logs in a meticulous, moment-by-moment replay of the century's most notorious sea disaster. To order, call 800-625-9000. . . . Eat your heart out, Nick at Nite. From New Video comes The Very Best of the Bob Newhart Show (six tapes, $79.95) and The Very Best of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (seven tapes, $99.95). Bob's set features 12 episodes, including the tear-jerking finale, and Mary's boasts 14 shows, among them "Chuckles Bites the Dust," which was recently named by TV Guide as the greatest sitcom episode of all time. Call 800-314-8822.
When you go from the top of the Hollywood heap to the bottom, it's a long haul back up. Only a few have made that triumphant star trek:
John Travolta: The comeback poster boy. Reduced to TV flicks and the occasional Look Who's Talking, Travolta rose from the ashes with his Oscar-nominated hit man in Pulp fiction (1994).
Tom Hanks: After Big (1988) he went small (The 'burbs, Joe Versus the Volcano, The Bonfire of the Vanities). But then he went two for two--an Oscar for each--with Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994).
Eddie Murphy: From 1989 to 1995 he tanked with dud after dud after dud (Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hrs., Vampire in Brooklyn). Only a bull's-eye such as The Nutty Professor (1996) could bring him back. It did.
Marlon Brando: Overweight and over-bearing, he couldn't live down his gig as Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). So he lived it up, spoofing the Don in the mob satire The Freshman (1990)
Julia Roberts: Her post-Pretty Woman bomb run (Hook, Prét-à-Porter, Mary Relly) was ended by last summer's double whammy, My Best Friend's Wedding and Conspiracy Theory. Welcome back.
Peter Fonda: He was limited to goofy, drug-addled cameos--surfer dude in Escape From L.A. (1996), stoned grandpa in Love and a .45 (1994)--but 1997's Ulee's Gold proved that the uneasy rider inherited the family chops after all.
Jon Voight: An Oscar for Coming Home (1978) and then ... not much. But ever since playing Tom Cruise's duplicitous boss in Mission: Impossible (1996), Voight and his silver ponytail are everywhere.
Jack Palance: Back-to-back Academy Award nominations--Sudden Fear (1952) and Shane (1953)--led to B movies and woeful Westerns. Then Old Jack played the crusty Curly in Billy Crystal's City Slickers (1991). At 72, he finally lassoed his Oscar.
Perfect for Valentine's Day: Image has bundled together four musicals (The Love Parade, Monte Carlo, One Hour With You and The Smiling Lieutenant) and two comedies (Trouble in Paradise and Design for Living) directed by Ernst Lubitsch, who helped define the sophisticated, stylish romantic comedies of the late Twenties and early Thirties. Featuring trademark performances by, among others, Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, The Lubitsch Touch (five platters, $190) shows off the director's mastery over pre-Production Code sexuality with the generous use of suggestive symbolism and provocative imagery.
Gregory P. Fagan
"I like porno and I'm not ashamed to say it." So confesses Drew Carey, whose hit ABC sitcom remains a family-hour hit. When naming his favorite not-quite-ready-for-prime-time picks, Carey sounds more like an oenophile discussing vintages. "I like the gonzo genre--or what I call porno verité--in which the actors acknowledge the camera while they're having sex. Also the films of John Leslie, like The Voyeur2, which are carefully edited and always interesting." Carey also appreciates high-end smut, such as the arty porn of Michael Ninn (Sex, Parts I and II). "They're stylized and saturated in colors," he says, "with virtually no dialogue. Not good masturbation films, but beautiful to look at." Spoken like a pro.
Video Clay Feet
Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit are fast gaining on the Ab Fab girls as Enland's favorite video duo. Now Fox has leashed together a video gift set ($25) of the Claymation man-and-dog act that features three of their top romps--A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers. Watch them alone and show them to your kids--then try to figure out who enjoyed them more.
Video Mood Meter
BlockbusterAir Force One (Russki nutjob Gary Oldman hijacks prez Harrison Ford--who kicks ass chief-exec style), Contact (space calls, Jodie Foster answers yes to interstellar invite; muddled but engaging spin on Sagan's swan song).
ComedyNothing to Lose (cuckold Tim Robbins takes carjacker Martin Lawrence on joyride; lots of laughs, then gas runs out), George of the Jungle (ape-man Brendan Fraser rescues safari babe from lion and dorky fiancé; harmless).
RomancePicture Perfect (ad exec Jennifer Aniston stumbles into loopy love triangle; friendly fun for movie dates), In the Company of Men (two white-collar cads target a deaf woman for sport-boffing; riveting, unflinching trip to the dark side).
SleeperBrassed Off (Yorkshire coal-town denizens find hope in local horn blowers; uplifting Commitments-meets-Sousa affair), 187 (shell-shocked schoolteacher Samuel L. Jackson vs. psychotic gangbangers; call it To Sir With Uzis).
ImportShall We Dance? (Japanese number cruncher finds joyful release in dancing; light, charming gavotte), When the Cat's Away (waifish Garance Clavel searches neighborhood for lost kitty in breezy tour of Parisian eccentricity).