A weekly update of video releases

* FATHER WAS A FULLBACK - The coach's college-football team has been losing game after game, and now his oldest daughter's giving him an extra dose of trouble, sinking into 24-hour blues with boy problems and a writing career that won't get off the ground. Originally released in 1949, this Twentieth Century-Fox comedy is just a feature-length sitcom episode, but it has hilarious dialogue with a surprisingly sophisticated edge. Fred MacMurray is in top form as the coach, and the fine supporting cast includes Rudy Vallee as an alumni official and Thelma Ritter as a wise-cracking maid. Also aboard are Maureen O'Hara, rather dull as the hero's loyal wife, and Natalie Wood as their little girl. Directed by John M. Stahl. (Not Rated; Fox Video)

* THE SEX OF THE STARS - This critically praised drama focuses on a 12-year-old girl who matures into adolescence while coping with confusions generated by her parents, including a mother who's determined to retain control over her increasingly independent daughter. Directed with taste and restraint by Canadian filmmaker Paule Baillargeon. (Not Rated; First Run Features)


We've all heard about the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, stalking mostly imaginary communists in the corridors of government and industry. This ambitious satire takes the witch-hunting metaphor literally, setting up a '50s society in which some people practice magic and others, led by self-serving politicians, seek to demonize and persecute them. The impressive cast includes Dennis Hopper as H. Phillip Lovecraft, a private eye who refuses to use spells or sorcery; Julian Sands as his longtime antagonist; Penelope Ann Miller as a movie star on the wane; Sheryl Lee Ralph as a witch who almost gets burned; and Eric Bogosian as a corrupt demagogue. Most of the action is rather silly, although a few scenes are clever, including the '50s-style newsreel that opens the picture. Directed by Paul Schrader from Joseph Dougherty's screenplay. (R; HBO Home Video)

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