OUT ON VIDEO

A weekly update of video releases. Dates in paratheses indicate a previous review in the Monitor.

* CARMEN JONES - Bizet's colorful ``Carmen'' is probably the most familiar of all classic operas, and Oscar Hammerstein II attempted to popularize it even more by updating the story, populating it with African-American characters, and writing contemporary lyrics for the show-stopping arias. Otto Preminger directed the 1954 film version, starring Harry Belafonte as a soldier named Joe and Dorothy Dandridge as the sultry temptress who leads him to tragedy. The cast is attractive and the tunes are as compelling as ever, but there's no escaping the racial insensitivity of a project that can't produce songs for black singers without giving them titles like ``Dat's Love'' and ``Stan' Up an' Fight.'' This cassette edition includes the original coming-attractions trailer and a snippet of newsreel footage showing celebrities at the world premiere, but it doesn't have the proper wide-screen format. (Fox Video)

* DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! - Boris Karloff narrates the funny and touching tale about a nasty critter who tries to spoil Christmas for everyone in town, but discovers the holiday spirit in time for a happy ending. The cut-rate ``limited animation'' style is below the usually high standard of Chuck Jones, who directed the 1966 cartoon. Still, the warmth of the story and the hilarity of Dr. Seuss's designs make this a treat for young and old alike. (MGM/UA Home Video)

* WEE WILLIE WINKIE - Cute little Shirley Temple and burly old Victor McLaglen trade spunky dialogue in John Ford's entertaining 1937 drama. Based on a Rudyard Kipling story, the tale begins when an American widow and her daughter move to a British military compound in colonial India, where tension runs high until our young heroine finds a way to bring old enemies together. Ford's visual style is rich and expressive, despite the flimsiness of the material he's working with here. But watching his artistry on this colorized cassette is like peering at a fine painting through a murky Crayola haze. (PG; Fox Video)

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