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New guides aim to help videocassette viewers through the maze of movies

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Rating the Movies (revised), by the editors of Consumer Guide and Jay A. Brown. Skokie, Ill.: Publications International Ltd. Illustrated. 416 pp. $9.95. Paper. Halliwell's Film Guide (3rd edition), by Leslie Halliwell. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1,453 pp. $9.95. Paper. TV Movies (1985-86 edition), edited by Leonard Maltin. New York: New American Library. 1,021 pp. Plume edition $9.95. Signet edition $4.95. Paper. The growth of the market for videocassette recorders and cable television has had an interesting side-effect. More movies than ever are available to the viewing public, from early silents through some of last year's hits. To help the prospective viewer wade through this cornucopia of film, several books are available to help one decide how to make the best use of movie-watching time.

One of the least of these is ``Rating the Movies,'' which purports to list ``just about every movie now being shown'' on TV, cable, or cassette. It is in fact a listing of fewer than 3,000 titles. If you watch only recent films or well-known older ones, this should be adequate.

However, if you have any film knowledge at all, the volume's omissions quickly outweigh its benefits. To give you an idea of how many movies are missing, one need only compare it with Leslie Halliwell's ``Film Guide,'' which admits to being incomplete with over 12,000 titles listed. To cite but two examples, Frank Capra's ``Mr. Deeds Goes to Town'' with Gary Cooper and Franois Truffaut's Oscar-winning ``Day for Night'' are both absent. In a movie guide that claims to list ``just about every movie,'' such omissions are inexcusable.

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