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Out on Video

A weekly update of video releases

BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE - Claudette Colbert thinks she's found the ideal husband until she learns that wealthy, pampered Gary Cooper has been married seven times before; so she decides to drum some fidelity into his noggin by keeping her distance and driving him nutty with desire. Many consider this 1938 comedy to be one of the weakest efforts by director Ernst Lubitsch, whose comic touch was one of Paramount's most reliable audience-pleasers. But there are uproarious moments - especially from David Niven and Edward Everett Horton in supporting roles - and the French Riviera setting provides nifty atmosphere. Comedy experts Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett wrote the uneven screenplay. Part of MCA Universal's Claudette Colbert Collection. (Not rated; MCA Universal Home Video)

THE STRANGER - A long-lost uncle barges into the household of his unprepared niece, her suspicious husband, and their adventure-loving child, all of whom are thoroughly skeptical as to whether the mysterious visitor is an authentic relative or an outright fraud. The last movie by the late Satyajit Ray, the most renowned filmmaker India has ever produced, is a delicious family comedy-drama with a warm heart and a large number of fascinating surprises. It also features witty and engaging performances, and more important, a love of spoken dialogue that's a joy to encounter. In addition to directing the story, Ray wrote the exquisitely literate screenplay and composed the lively music. (Not rated; First Run Features)

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Rival gangs enter an escalating conflict over clashing personalities, contested turf, and rival ideologies. They're egged on by the poverty of their surroundings, the nastiness of their own natures, and the bravado of a right-wing zealot who's convinced an apocalyptic war with Russia is right around the corner. Nagisa Oshima's 1960 political thriller has plenty of lurid moments, but rarely has the chaotic underside of Japan's famously well-ordered society been splashed more vividly across the screen. Part of New Yorker's Japanese Masters series. (Not rated; New Yorker Video)

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