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'CADENCE' HAS THE BEAT OF AN EARLIER PERIOD
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'CADENCE' HAS THE BEAT OF AN EARLIER PERIOD

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CADENCE, PG-13, 1991, 97 minutes, Republic Home Video, closed-captioned, $92.98.

Once ``Cadence' might have been pertinent, even revolutionary, but now it's definitely out of step with the times. Screenwriter Dennis Shryrack, in fact, first approached activist-actor-director Martin Sheen with this Army-set dramedy of race relations some 15 years ago.Set in 1963, it stars Charlie Sheen as Pvt. Bean, a defiant white loner who learns teamwork from fellow inmates in the Army brig - five black soldiers known as the Soul Patrol. After tangling with the stockade commander (Martin Sheen), a standard-issue bully and bigot, Bean draws further enmity by befriending the Patrol, which is led by the streetwise Stokes (Larry Fishburne).

After overcoming Bean's naturally surly disposition, Stokes tames the renegade and eases him into the fellowship of the fun-loving, prideful group. Bean's assimilation is complete when he finally learns the Patrol's patented ``Stockade Shuffle,' a lively march routine set to Sam Cooke's ``Chain Gang.' It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry.\

A KISS BEFORE DYING, R, 1991, 93 minutes, MCA Universal Home Video, closed-captioned, $91.99.

``A Kiss Before Dying' is so wooden, it wouldn't hurt to spray for Dutch elm disease. Adapted from Ira Levin's intricate suspense thriller, it becomes another perfunctory sex-and-death parable in the hands of ``Fatal Attraction' screenwriter James Dearden, who upends the original plot to give away plot.

Sean Young sleeps with the enemy here as twin heiresses Dorothy and Ellen Carlson, both of whom are romanced by Jonathan, a ruthless gold digger played by Matt Dillon. Jonathan helps his girlfriend Dorothy commit suicide when he learns that her father (Max von Sydow) has disinherited her for becoming pregnant (the story was originally set in the '50s, when these motivations must have been more plausible). Still hoping to get his hands on the family fortune, he woos Ellen, who goes and spoils things by becoming suspicious.

The big problem is that, as Hitchcock suggested, the book cannot be filmed without giving the suspense away.\

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