SOMETHING SHORT OF PARADISE -- AMC Carrollton, K-B Bethesda, K-B Cerberus, McLean, White Flint.

Winsome young woman from the Great Beyond (west of the Hudson) meets tentative but intense young man from Manhattan. They fall in love at first sight.

But it is so terribly difficult for young professionals to maintain a relationship in the 1970s.

You've seen that palaver beforee in "Annie Hall." You'll see it again, without Woody Allen's intelligence and insight, in "Something Short of Paradise."

Writer Fred Barron and Director David Halpern tell the love story of a young magazine writer and a young movie publicist. But the movie fails to share with the viewer the source of the attraction between the two lovers or much of the source of the disatractions that sent them on an off-again on-again romance.

Susan Sarandon, the journalist, and David Steinberg, the publicist, don't help much either. They take two dimensionless roles and play them faithfully.

If they have any secret moments of loving and understanding, they do it off camera.

Sarandon still possesses the soft beauty she had as an undergraduate at Catholic University more than a decade ago. Perhaps that's why she can get away with telling interviewers year after year that she is 30.

And perhaps that is why, in the movie, Steinberg fell in love with her and her cutesy lines. For example, as he tries to seduce her on their third encounter she moves to leave, telling him she doesn't like to take things that fast. But at the door, she relents. "Maybe I could go a little faster."

Why she wanted to go it at all is a mystery. Steinberg plays his funny lines with the calculated timing of a standup comic, which he is.

He displays intensity by slapping a glass out of the hand of a co-worker of Sarandon's who tries to start up a conversation with her or by dumping a plate of food in the lap of a fellow publicist who has fixed Sarandon up with aging star Jean Pierre Aumont, whose film Steinberg is promoting.

All we learn about the young couple is that Steinberg wants to live together and she does not, fearful of making the commitment after watching a seven-year relationship fall apart.

It could be, of course, that she wants to wipe away the scars of that affair by pouring herself into her work. But all that can be gleaned of her professional involvement is a brief visit to the office and a simpleminded question at a press conference.

When Steinberg is on the job, he is usually shown reminscing about previous engagements with Sarandon.

Writer Baron's previous effort was "Between the Lines," a sharp satire of underground newspapers.

In "Something Short of Paradise" he backs away from nearly every exchange that promises to expose something of the inner workings of the two lovers.