Facebook Twitter



If you vant to be alone with Greta Garbo, home video gives you ample opportunity.

The Swedish actress, who died Sunday at age 84, left behind more than two dozen films, many of which are available on videocassette.From her second film ("The Atonement of Gosta Berling," 1924; Discount Video Tapes) to "Ninotchka" (1939; MGM/UA Home Video), perhaps her best-known film, Garbo fans have more than a half-dozen of the star's titles to choose from.

In "Grand Hotel," considered one of her best roles, Garbo stars as a lonely ballerina. And she is surrounded by such other stars as Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore.

And, of course, it is in this film that Garbo says her most famous line - "I vant to be alone."

Garbo made eight more films after "Grand Hotel," including "Anna Karenina" (1935), which regrettably is not on home video, and "Ninotchka," director Ernest Lubitsch's light-hearted look at cold-hearted Russian agent Garbo falling for Melvyn Douglas.

Indeed, by this time, Garbo's career had started to wane. But her flair for comedy in this classic prompted marquees across America to blaze: "Garbo Laughs!" and sparked a limited comeback.

Unfortunately, her next attempt at a humorous role in "Two-Faced Woman" flopped and Garbo announced her retirement in 1941 at age 36.

Although nominated four times for Academy Awards, she didn't win one until 1955 - a special Oscar for "a series of luminous and unforgettable performances." She did not appear to collect it.

Here is a list of Greta Garbo's films available on videotape:

"The Atonement of Gosta Berling," (1924; Discount Video Tapes).

"Joyless Street," (1925; Festival Films)

"Flesh and the Devil," (1927; MGM/UA Home Video).

"Wild Orchids," (1929; MGM/UA Home Video).

"Anna Christie," (1930; MGM/UA Home Video).

"Grand Hotel," (1932; MGM/UA Home Video).

"Camille," (1936; MGM/UA Home Video).

"Ninotchka," (1939; MGM/UA Home Video).

(BU) MICHAELANGELO, RAPHAEL, Donatello and Leonardo - the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - are crazy about pizza, but a fast-food hamburger chain, Burger King, scored possibly the biggest commercial coup of Turtlemania.

Burger King made a deal with IVE to sell four previously unreleased Turtle animated videos exclusively at its restaurants for $3.49 each with a purchase. IVE is shipping 7 million copies of the Turtle tapes, according to IVE's marketing vice president Lauren Becker.

Since the live-action movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" opened in theaters three weeks ago (box-office gross: a whopping $73 million), Turtlemania - the merchandising phenomenon that's bordering on last summer's Batmania - has been in full bloom. Children are buying all sorts of products associated with the Turtles, including videos.

Your local Burger King has become Turtlemania Central. IVE's Becker reported booming business at Burger Kings for the videos, released through IVE's kidvid division Family Home Entertainment. For the last three weeks, a new video has been introduced in 5,000 of the chain's 5,400 U.S. restaurants each week. By the end of the month, all four - "April Foolish," "The Great Boldini," "Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers" and "Sky Turtles" - will be available.

Of these 28-minute programs, 22 minutes are devoted to a Turtle episode. The rest is commercials, including a 2 1/2-minute ad for IVE's other Turtle videos, a 90-second trailer for the movie and a Burger King ad pushing its Kids Clubs.

Though these Turtle episodes are new to home video, they are not new. All have been previously shown on the Turtles' syndicated TV series. "It doesn't seem to matter that they've been shown on TV," Becker said.

One reason IVE is able to sell these $3.49 videos at such a low cost - a reported $2.25-$2.50 per cassette - is that they are duplicated at the slowest speed (EP). Because EP duplication uses only one third the tape as standard-play (SP) duplication, manufacturing these videos costs much less. However, recording at EP results generally in picture quality inferior to any recorded at SP. But for kidvid cartoons that were previously shown on TV, a top-quality picture isn't that necessary.

What's next for the Turtles?

In the fall, the Turtles TV series moves from syndication to network TV - as a CBS Saturday morning series. The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie will be out this fall too, Becker said. Most likely it will be released at a $20-$25 price geared to sales in the holiday market. By Dennis Hunt ( Los Angeles Times)

(BU) IF YOU'VE EVER BOUGHT a new full-length feature on video for less than $10, chances are good it was duplicated in a non-standard mode, one of the slower recording options available on almost all VCRs.

EP (extended play), also known as SLP for super-long play, uses two-thirds less tape than SP (standard play) and can cost half as much to manufacture. The other slow option is LP (long play), which uses half as much tape as SP.

Both modes are economical alternatives to SP, and viewers who have tried to squeeze a week's worth of soap operas onto a single tape are familiar with them. They're also familiar with the trade-off in image and sound clarity, but for some tapings, the best possible recording quality may not be necessary.

Some video companies take the same attitude. Despite the objections of video buffs who put quality ahead of economy in all instances, EP and LP tapes are appearing on the market in ever-larger numbers.

In Malvern, Pa., a duplicating company called High Speed Video uses "contact printing" that can copy a movie in about 90 seconds. If the client requests EP, duplication time can be much less, depending on program length. Last year, High Speed produced the low-priced EP movies sold at McDonald's. Its total EP output in 1989 was 15 million units.

Another duplicator using high-speed equipment, Rank Video Services, recently noted a company landmark by turning out one million EP tapes in one month.

Technically, there are qualitative differences betweeen SP and the slower options, but duplicating technology is narrowing the gap. In a study commissioned by a company specializing in LP-mode movies, shoppers in a mall were shown segments of two movies in both SP and LP. According to the company, 47 percent of viewers saw no difference between the segments, while 21 percent said they preferred the LP image and 32 percent preferred SP.

The industry's desire to produce high volume at low cost, coupled with the consumer's apparently uncritical eye, are reliable signs that video's bargain basement will continue its expansion. - Andy Wickstrom (Knight-Ridder)