Out on Video

* HARD EIGHT - An aging gambler takes a young drifter under his wing, helping him through various scrapes while nursing emotional wounds from his own turbulent past. Paul Thomas Anderson's first feature anticipates his controversial follow-up film, "Boogie Nights," by depicting an intergenerational friendship in a down-and-dirty environment. While this movie contains some nasty twists, it keeps the most sensationalistic material tactfully off-screen, focusing its attention on the inner lives of scruffy characters remarkably well acted by Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, and others. Includes very rough language and flashes of violence. (R; Columbia/TriStar Home Video)

* MIKEY AND NICKY

While hiding from a hit man on his trail, a small-time hoodlum (John Cassavetes) seeks help from a friend (Peter Falk), who may have reasons to help the bad guys knock him off. Written and directed by Elaine May, this underrated 1976 tragicomedy peppers an unpredictable plot with hugely ironic dialogue and virtuoso acting by two of Hollywood's most artistically adventurous stars. Ned Beatty rounds out the fine cast as the gunman who thinks of his awful job as just another way to make a living. Also look for cameos by M. Emmet Walsh and William Hickey. (R; First Run Features Home Video)

* RED RIVER - John Wayne drives an enormous herd of cattle up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas, feuding with his adopted son and straining the patience of his overworked cowboys every step of the way. One of the most enjoyable westerns ever made - and one of the great budget-busters of its day, with on-location filming almost doubling its planned cost - this sprawling 1948 epic turns history into myth and myth into Hollywood entertainment at its crowd-pleasing best. Howard Hawks directed the adventure with his usual straightforward energy. Montgomery Clift makes a smashing screen debut as the cattleman's rebellious heir; the lively supporting cast includes Walter Brennan, John Ireland, and Joanne Dru. (Not rated; MGM/UA Home Video)

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