FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY (1989) (Paramount) * 127 minutes. * 1/2 Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, John Cusack, Bonnie Bedelia. Because it marked a dramatic moment in modern American technology, science and morality, it's hard to beat the Manhattan Project (code name for the confab that built the A-bomb) as compelling subject matter. In making their movie about the creation of the bomb, writer/director Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields) and co-writer Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I) have unintentionally created a bomb. In condensing two intense years into two elliptical hours, they telegraph instead of develop the saga, which produces the effect of a newspaper with headlines and no stories. Newman stars as the results-driven Gen. Leslie Groves, Schultz (A-Team thespian ordinaire) plays J. Robert Oppenheimer.
* (This video supplier does not set suggested retail prices on titles it deems primarily for rental.)
AFTERSHOCK (1988) (Prism) * 90 minutes. Elizabeth Kaitan, John Saxon, Russ Tamblyn. Another retread set in a harsh post-apocalyptic future: A space alien seeks to overthrow the evil world government that has taken control following a major cataclysm.
ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (1989) (HBO) $89.99. 79 minutes. Karen Allen, Holly Hunter, Armand Assante. Comedy/drama: A dedicated researcher's dream of teaching a chimp to communicate via sign language is complicated when she falls for a music professor.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS (1989) (Vestron) $89.98. 102 minutes. Allan Katz, Tom Skerritt, Corey Parker, Cindy Williams. Campus comedy: The reclusive inhabitant of a university bell tower is enrolled as a freshman by the head of the psychology department.
BLOWN AWAY (1989) (Academy) $79.95. 92 minutes. Loni Anderson, John Heard. When she flees and assumes a new identity, a model is forced to leave her infant daughter in the clutches of her drug-smuggling husband.
THE EYES OF THE PANTHER (1989) (Cannon) $59.95. 51 minutes. Daphne Zuniga, C. Thomas Howell, John Stockwell. A family of Midwestern homesteaders is stricken with a mysterious curse after a panther is killed while trying to attack them.
LIMIT UP (1989) (MCEG/Virgin) $89.95. 88 minutes. Nancy Allen, Dean Stockwell, Brad Hall. Supernatural fantasy: When an ambitious woman finds it difficult to rise to the top of the male-dominated commodities business, a devilish creature offers her a chance to fulfill her dreams - for a price.
MINDFIELD (1990) (Magnum) $89.98. 91 minutes. Michael Ironside, Lisa Langlois, Christopher Plummer. Thriller: A detective's routine investigation of a robbery leads to proof that the CIA was conducting bizarre experiments on him years before.
THE OPPONENT (1989) (Vidmark) $89.95. 102 minutes. Ernest Borgnine, Daniel Greene. Boxing drama: An up-and-coming pug gets into trouble with an unscrupulous fight promoter when he comes between the promoter and his abused girlfriend.
RACE FOR GLORY (1989) (HBO) $89.99. 102 minutes. Alex McArthur, Peter Berg, Pamela Ludwig. A young motorcycle racer is so anxious to become the greatest in his sport that he forsakes his family and friends.
REBEL STORM (1989) (Academy) $89.95. 99 minutes. John Rhys-Davies, Zach Galligan, Wayne Crawford. Futuristic action outing: Freedom fighters make use of an ancient radio station to overthrow an evil dictator.
RENDEZ-VOUS (1985) (Connoisseur) $79.95. 82 minutes. Juliette Binoche, Lambert Wilson, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Moody, sexually explicit story of an actress who becomes involved with an obsessive live-sex star and his mentor.
ROSE GARDEN (1989) (Cannon) $89.95. 112 minutes. Liv Ullman, Maximilian Schell, Peter Fonda. When a Holocaust survivor goes on trial in modern-day Germany for a seemingly unprovoked attack on an elderly businessman, his lawyer thinks the victim is more than he seems.
SHE'S BACK (1988) (Vestron) $89.98. 89 minutes. Carrie Fisher, Robert Joy. Comic thriller: A wife who's been killed by a gang of thugs comes back to nag her husband into avenging her death. He gets some help from their goofy right- wing neighbor.
SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1989) (Media) $89.98. 97 minutes. Brad Dourif, Cynthia Bain, Melinda Dillon. The subject of a top-secret government radiation experiment discovers that he may burst into flames at any moment.
ROCCO & HIS BROTHERS (1960) (Connoisseur) $79.95. 175 minutes. * * * * Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Claudia Cardinale. The tales of five brothers from impoverished southern Italy who seek a better life in Milan. An ode to what director Luchino Visconti once called "the burden of being human."
MUSIC AND DANCE
BALLET RUSE (1990) (Proscenium) $19.95. 35 minutes. Two comic ballet parodies by choreographer Peter Anastos: Yes, Virginia, Another Piano Ballet and Forgotten Memories. Won three Emmys.
THE NEW SOUSA BAND (1990) (Proscenium) $29.95. 58 minutes. John Philip Sousa scholar/conductor Keith Brion impersonates the maestro in this concert videotaped at The Barns of Wolf Trap. Hosted by Beverly Sills; also stars New York City Opera soprano Erie Mills.
JODY WATLEY: DANCE TO FITNESS (1990) (PPI/Peter Pan) $24.95. 45 minutes. The pop singer leads an exercise session featuring music from her albums.
CLASSIC GOLF EXPERIENCES (1990) (J2) $199.95. Eight-volume set, each cassette focusing on a different golf course: St. Andrews (60 minutes), La Costa (40 minutes), the Bay Course at Kapalua (53 minutes), Walt Disney World's Magnolia Course (45 minutes), TPC at Sawgrass (35 minutes), Harbour Town Golf Links (52 minutes), Doral's Blue Monster (44 minutes) and the PGA West TPC Stadium course (56 minutes.)
100 YEARS - A VISUAL HISTORY OF THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS (1990) (J2) $19.95. 76 minutes. Sportscaster Vin Scully narrates a look at a century of Dodger baseball.
MADE FOR TELEVISION
THE INHERITOR (1989) (VidAmerica) $79.98. 90 minutes. Dan Haggerty. Formula thriller: A woman is plagued by nightmares when she returns to her creepy childhood home after her sister's death.
SECOND WIND (1989) (VidAmerica) $79.98. 93 minutes. Lindsay Wagner, James Naughton. An unhappy yuppie discovers fulfillment in running - until it threaten to destroy his marriage.
NATIONAL AUDUBON VIDEO (1990) (Vestron) $29.98 each. 60 minutes each. Three new titles in the nature series: Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees, Greed and Wildlife: Poaching in America and Sharks.
GLASNOST FILM FESTIVAL (1990) (The Video Project) $59.95 each or $575 for the set. Twenty-two short films, collected on 12 cassettes, made by Soviet documentarians who would not have been permitted to make such films before recent reforms. For more information, call 415-655-9050.
NELSON ENTERTAINMENT has reduced these videos to $9.98: Champions (* * '84); A Dream of Passion ('78); Lucky Luciano (* * '74); A Minor Miracle (* * '83); Picture Mommy Dead (* * '66); Robbery; Shoot Loud, Louder . . . I Don't Understand (* * '67); The Steagle (* * '71), and A Time for Miracles ('80).
ORION HOME VIDEO has reduced Black Caesar (* * '72), Coffy (* * '73), Foxy Brown (* '74) and Hell Up in Harlem ('73) to $19.98.
VESTRON VIDEO has reduced these videos to $29.98: Class (* * '83), Class of 1984 (* * '82), Crisis at Central High (* * * '80), Hollywood High (* * '77), Hollywood High II (* * '81), Preppies (* '84), The Seniors (* * '78) and Senior Week ('87).
TO OUR READERS
Many readers have phoned or written, saying that they have been unable to find some of the cassettes listed in "New on Video" in their stores. This column tries to list every new title as it becomes available. Realistically, your store cannot have every cassette in its inventory, so for each item we list the supplier (the name in parentheses directly after the video's date). With this information, your store should be able to order the cassette you want.
COMING NEXT WEEK
Jack Lemmon stars as DAD; Matt Dillon becomes a DRUGSTORE COWBOY; PENN & TELLER GET KILLED, and Jimmy Stewart and HARVEY warm our hearts.
* * * * Excellent
* * * Good
* * Fair
(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)