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One of the more common complaints about local moviegoing these days - at least from those who care about how films are presented in theaters - is that we seldom get 70mm prints of new movies in Salt Lake theaters anymore. Hence, we don't very often get to see the bigger big-screen picture with the highest quality sound.

A lot of people wondered why we didn't see a 70mm print of "The Hunt for Red October" this past spring, for example. Who knows? Although the 70mm-capable theaters do seem to be dwindling. Two of the best are gone now - the Centre and the Regency.Though there are 70mm projectors in the Crossroads, Cottonwood and Century theaters, those auditoriums and screens are not big enough to allow the audience to feel the impact of 70mm at its best advantage. The only two top-of-the-line 70mm houses in Salt Lake now are the Villa and the Trolley Corners theaters.

A couple of weeks ago, when a 70mm print of "Back to the Future, Part III" was released from a Los Angeles theater, Cineplex Odeon brought it into its 70mm auditorium at the Crossroads Mall. But that was four weeks into the film's run and, unfortunately, most people who would have gone out of their way to see it didn't know about it. By Friday it was already gone.

"Days of Thunder," at Mann's Villa Theater, is the first first-run 70mm print we've had since "Batman" at the Cottonwood Mall last year, and seeing "Days of Thunder" in 70mm is the only way to get some enjoyment out of Tom Cruise's latest ego epic. (In fact, you can take a star away from my 2 1/2-star review when this film goes to video.)

There is another great 70mm theater in Utah - the SCERA Theater in Orem. And at the moment it is the only place in the state to see "Dick Tracy" in 70mm, which definitely enhances Warren Beatty's comic-strip extravaganza. (And, yes, the Roger Rabbit cartoon "Roller Coaster Rabbit," is also in 70mm.)

For some movies a 70mm presentation means less, of course. Seeing "Ghost Dad" or "Pretty Woman" or "Driving Miss Daisy" in 70mm may make it bigger, but more intimate pictures don't benefit as much as action-thrillers.

Like "Days of Thunder," "Die Hard 2" and "Total Recall," for example, which were made for 70mm presentation. And if they are diminished somewhat in 35mm, imagine what they'll be like when they come to video. Cruise will look like he's driving the Hardee's version of his stock car.

- QUICK, NOW THAT "Days of Thunder" has opened, what other race movies can you rent on video? How about "Grand Prix," a Cinerama film with James Garner (which means you can see about a third of the picture on your TV screen and a lot of closeups of James Garner's nose); "Winning," with Paul Newman, the man we can blame for introducing Tom Cruise to racing; "Speedway" and "Spinout," two movies with Elvis Presley racing stock cars; "Cannonball Run" and "Cannonball Run II," with Burt Reynolds and dozens of guest stars racing cross-country; and "The Great Race," with nasty Jack Lemmon and all-in-white Tony Curtis racing from New York to Paris?

- WILL "DIE HARD 2" die harder at the box office? At the end of the year will it be known as "Die Hardly"?

Will "RoboCop" be "RoboFlop"?

Will "Dick" vanish without a trace?

Will "Days of Thunder" wash out?

Will "Ghost Dad" evaporate?

Will "Betsy's Wedding" divorce the audience?

Actually, all of these films are doing pretty well.

I just wanted to write like a national movie critic for a moment.

- WALT DISNEY STUDIOS is playing a cruel joke on the moviegoing public - and movie critics in particular.

Having already released an Ernest P. Worrell so-called "comedy" earlier this year - remember "Ernest Goes to Jail" in April? - the studio has announced yet another Jim Varney-as-Ernest picture scheduled for Oct. 19: "Ernest and the Haunted House."

Oh, sure. It's no big deal to you. You can send your kids and feel secure that you will never have to sit for 90 minutes through another "Ernest" movie. But not me! I have to go!

One "Ernest" movie a year was tolerable, but two a year is more than I can bear.

Do you suppose I could go back to selling cutlery door to door?

- FROM PREMIERE MAGAZINE: With reference to one of the weirder trends related to last year's "Batmania": "Seen anyone with a Dick Tracy logo shaved into their hair?"


Dear Mr. Hicks,

Please answer one question: Did you see the same movie, or version of the movie, "Joe Versus the Volcano" that I did?

How on earth could you have given it 3 1/2 stars? The people I talked with at the theater didn't like it . . . not even the popcorn girl.

Let's get realistic, Hicks! You've missed too many lately. If you don't hit a few, I think I'll start a movement to get a new movie reviewer for the (Deseret) News. Don't think it couldn't happen. You see, I'm not alone.

Sincerely, > Vic Morris, Salt Lake City

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose "Total Recall" has been attacked for its extreme violence, telling Richard Freedman (Newhouse News Service) how he feels about critics:

"I personally pay not that much attention to such critics, because the whole idea of deciding what is good for others doesn't go over with me very much."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK II: Bruce Willis, to Kenneth Turan (New York Times News Service) about his latest film, "Die Hard 2":

"A sequel is a strange animal; it's another chapter in a movie you've already seen, a little taste of the repetitiveness of TV."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK III: Joe Dante, director of "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," to Tom Jacobs (Los Angeles Daily News):

"It's like watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon. It's very cathartic watching them hit each other over the head with hammers, especially since you know it isn't real. It's not a catharsis for me to see somebody slit somebody else's throat, because I don't want to slit anybody's throat. But a lot of times, I've wanted to hit somebody over the head with a hammer."