Weekly Video Picks

Shiloh (1997)

Kids face tough ethical questions on a regular basis, just like grownups, even if their quandries seem mundane from an adult perspective. Shiloh is the first of a series of low-budget features based on Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's trilogy of Appalachian novels. It dramatizes the problems presented to 12-year-old Marty Preston (Blake Heron) when an adorable beagle named Shiloh follows him home one day.

The dog belongs to Judd Travers (Scott Wilson), a mean loner who abuses him. Marty wants to buy Shiloh, but Travers won't sell. The boy's father (Michael Moriarty) asserts that Travers is the legal owner and the law can't be broken. The local country doctor (Rod Steiger) confides to the boy his own struggles to get legal guardianship of his granddaughter after her parents' death. Marty must sort through what's he's been told and figure out for himself the right course of action. Director Dale Rosenbloom skillfully captures the flavor of the backwoods locations while telling the story from the boy's point of view.

A Thousand Heroes (1994)

The courage of our nation's rescue workers has been on full display in recent weeks.

But the intelligent training and deployment of those personnel is almost as important as their brave spirit in the saving of lives. A Thousand Heroes, a TV movie directed by Lamont Johnson, is a documentary-style re-creation of a real-life plane crash in which 180 of 296 passengers survive.

Gary Brown (Richard Thomas) is a fire official in Sioux City, Iowa, who fights an uphill battle against entrenched bureaucracies to establish a coordinated, interagency plan for disaster relief. His only ally is a National Guard leader, Jim Hathaway (James Coburn).

On July 19, 1989, a United Airlines flight en route from Denver to Chicago loses pressure simultaneously in three engines. When its pilot, Capt. Haynes (Charlton Heston), crash-lands in Iowa, Brown and Hathaway work together to achieve what seems impossible — a rescue effort in which nearly two-thirds of those at risk are saved. The movie is uplifting, but not for viewers with weak stomachs.

Ivanhoe (1952)

The Crusades helped create an understanding of masculine virtue which persisted in our culture from the middle ages up until the 1960s. The Oscar-nominated Ivanhoe, based on Sir Walter Scott's novel, is an unapologetic endorsement of these chivalric ideals, as interpreted by Hollywood during its golden age.

Sir Wilfrid of Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) is a Saxon knight who served England's King Richard the Lionhearted (Norman Wooland) during the Third Crusade. When Ivanhoe learns that his brave monarch is being held for ransom in Austria, he returns to England to raise the money.

Disinherited by his father (Finlay Currie) for serving a Norman monarch, Ivanhoe must outwit the evil Prince John (Guy Rolfe) and his clever henchman, De Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders). He makes an alliance with a wealthy Jew (Felix Aylmer) and his beautiful daughter (Elizabeth Taylor). Although the plot occasionally creaks, director Richard Thorpe (The Prisoner of Zenda) stages an exciting jousting tournament, a thrilling castle siege, and a suspenseful, climactic duel between Ivanhoe and De Bois-Guilbert.