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A selection of releases now for sale or rent. COME BACK, AFRICA (1959. Directed by Lionel Rogosin. Mystic Fire Video) - Although this primitive but powerful drama was filmed almost 30 years ago, it's still sadly and urgently relevant. Zachariah, the main character, is a black South African who obtains and loses a series of jobs while trying to keep his residency in Johannesburg, where he finds life a bit more decent and hopeful than in the mines, where the racist bureaucracy would ordinarily bury him. Since the picture was secretly filmed with a mostly nonprofessional cast, its technique is rough-hewn and its performances unpolished. Yet even the film's most contrived scenes convey a passion and conviction that was obviously felt by everyone who worked on the production. And much of the acting, unschooled as it is, has a ring of authenticity that could only have resulted from firsthand knowledge and experience. Miriam Makeba makes a guest appearance near the end of the picture, singing a song that shines with supple African beauty. THE EGG AND I (1947. Directed by Chester Erskine. Kartes Video Communications) - No sooner is the honeymoon over than our hero (Fred MacMurray) whisks his new wife (Claudette Colbert) to a new life on a chicken farm he's bought with all their savings. There he feeds and breeds his hens while she does battle with an antique stove, a leaky roof, and all manner of domestic inconveniences. To make her hard lot even worse, there's a wealthy widow down the road whose cap is clearly set for her handsome husband. Based on a popular book by Betty MacDonald, the story is silly at best, woefully predictable at worst. MacMurray and Colbert are in excellent form, though, and Louise Albritton heads a colorful cast of supporting players. Most colorful of all are Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride in their first screen appearance as Ma and Pa Kettle, the most enduring bumpkins in Hollywood history. Their scenes are always a delight, and the inimitable Miss Main takes over the picture with main strength each time she strides before the camera. Another plus is the first of the movie's two climaxes, which celebrates the natural generosity of country folks. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955. Directed by Otto Preminger. The Congress Video Group) - Frank Sinatra gives the most vivid performance of his career as Frankie Machine, a likable young man whose talents for drumming and card-playing are shattered by a tenacious heroin habit, which he finally overcomes at the climax of the story. This fiercely antidrug drama was superbly directed by Otto Preminger, who filmed much of the action in artfully choreographed shots of breathtaking duration. Each one is filled with precisely etched characters played by a generally superb group of performers. Kim Novak isn't quite up to the overall level of excellence, technically speaking, but she brings some subtlety to her portrayal of Frankie's would-be girlfriend. Other people in the cast include Darren McGavin as a white Sportin' Life who tempts Frankie back to addiction, and the one and only Arnold Stang as Frankie's comical sidekick. The movie's crisp black-and-white images look surprisingly imposing even on the cramped television screen.

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