Out on Video

* MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON - Beneath the windy patriotism of Frank Capra's popular 1939 drama lies a disturbing idea: American politics were profoundly corrupt before hero Jefferson Smith arrived to clean them up a bit, and when he's gone the pols will probably sink right back into their terrible habits. James Stewart conveys Jeff's rage and frustration as convincingly as his innocence and optimism, and costars Jean Arthur and Claude Rains are every bit as excellent. Still entertaining after all these years. (Not rated; Columbia TriStar Home Video)

* THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE - James Stewart plays an aging politician who returns to the frontier town of Shinbone for the funeral of an obscure rancher. He gets to reminiscing about a long-ago event that epitomized the clash between "law and order" and "might makes right" faced by citizens of the Old West every day. Legendary filmmaker John Ford directed this hugely intelligent, deeply touching 1962 western, which stands with the greatest movies of Stewart's career. His scenes with John Wayne are like duets between two master musicians at the peak of their expressive powers. (Not rated; Paramount Home Video)

* MACAO - Robert Mitchum's versatility brought him to movies of many kinds, including the "film noir" cycle that filled screens with dark, shadowy tales during the '40s and '50s. No classic noir had a stranger history than this 1952 production, about a rootless drifter (Mitchum) joining a nightclub singer (Jane Russell) and a traveling salesman (William Bendix) for intrigue on the Chinese coast. It was directed by the great Josef von Sternberg, who often cared more about lighting and decor than the story he was supposedly telling. That approach so distressed studio boss Howard Hughes that another offbeat Hollywood director, Nicholas Ray, was brought in to tighten this yarn. The result is less dazzling than the von Sternberg-Ray combination would suggest, but Mitchum strides through the somewhat confused action with charm and confidence, showing the unflappable allure that made him a major star. (Not rated; Turner Classic Movies)

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