CRIMES OF THE HEART PG-13, 1986, 105 minutes, Lorimar Home Video, $89.95.

This adaptation of Beth Henley's 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning play has about the closest thing to a dream cast imaginable. As Henley's three Mississippi sisters, drawn together in their grandfather's once-grand Victorian house, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek put on the most engagingly self-effacing ensemble acting in recent memory. Their performances are so intertwined, so fluently complementary, that it's impossible to single out any one of the three over the others. (The Academy, though, gave Sissy Spacek a Best Actress nomination.) The play itself, which was adapted by the playwright for director Bruce Beresford, is a bit secondhand, but the playwright has a good ear for the odd southern turn of phrase and for the way family members talk among themselves. Though essentially it's a lightweight, chestnutty piece of work, the actors bring so much talent to bear on their roles, and build such real relationships between their characters, that you might almost believe the material is great. It isn't, but their joy in working together is mirrored by our pleasure in watching. -- Hal Hinson

NO MERCY R, 1986, 105 minutes, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, $79.95.

Leading good-lookers Kim Basinger and Richard Gere spit and spat and inevitably jump each other's bones in this standard-issue cop thriller, a "Beverly Hills Cop" in a bad mood. Gere plays a Chicago lawman who travels to New Orleans to avenge his partner's death at the hands of a crawfish-country kingpin (played with ruthless relish by Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbe). And pouty Basinger plays the Cajun villain's love slave (as usual). Gere nabs Basinger and uses her as bait to get his man. Gere's not exactly Clint Eastwood, though it's his best part since "An Officer and a Gentleman." Basinger gets wet in a sheer dress, again. Richard Pearce of "Country" directs by the book -- the cop movie manual, that is -- from an uninspired, but serviceable screenplay by Jim Carabatsos, who wrote "Heartbreak Ridge." -- Rita Kempley

THE CRIMSON PIRATE Unrated, 1952, 104 minutes, Warner Home Video, $19.95.

There's has never been a movie actor with a greater store of sheer masculine panache than Burt Lancaster, and in this comic swashbucker about an 18th-century pirate scoundrel who tangles with His Majesty's forces in the Caribbean, he's at his exuberant, virile best. Directed by Robert Siodmak, from Roland Kibbee's breezy script, the movie bounces along on a combination of high spirits and low-down, physical comedy. It costars Nick Cravat, Lancaster's old circus partner, and the pair's acrobatic stunts are breathtakingly graceful. The overall effect is boisterously eccentric. With a rousing score by William Alwyn, and James Hayter as the Ben Franklinish inventor. -- Hal Hinson

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN Unrated, 1984, 94 minutes, Guiding Image, $29.95.

Mercurial, charismatic, enigmatic -- Al Green has been all these things and more in a career as complex and convoluted as any in American music. In the early '70s, with songs like "Tired of Being Alone" and "Let's Stay Together," Green was the embodiment of cynical sexuality and seductive sensuality. In the mid-'70s, though, Green made a surprising transition from secular star to Pentecostal preacher, a move predicted in the key line from "Belle": "It's you that I want but it's Him that I need." Bob Mugge's beautifully filmed and revealing portrait is a mix of Green's talking (with unusual openness) in the rehearsal studio and his ecstatic singing -- at a special concert at Bolling Air Force Base and at his own Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in South Carolina. At one point, Green says a song should be "like a mountain -- start at the bottom and climb to the top." It's an esthetic that really hasn't changed since he was the most electrifying singer in America, except that in his gospel guise, Al Green wants to take you higher. -- Richard Harrington

DER ROSENKAVALIER Unrated, 1987, in German with subtitles, 198 minutes, Pioneer LaserDisc, $49.95.

This is one of the best classical recordings of 1987. Until now, the definitive filmed version of the Richard Strauss opera has been the 1962 version, conducted by Herbert von Karajan and starring Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, available from Video Arts International (VAI-OP-2, VHS or Beta). This recording, conducted by Georg Solti and starring Kiri Te Kanawa, is musically comparable and technically far superior. The visuals are the best part. The cameras capture a wealth of subtly shaded colors in superbly focused detail, producing exactly the right visual texture -- like fine velvet or a subtly woven tapestry. The cast is large and carefully chosen, for voices and for acting ability. Noteworthy performers include Anne Howells as Octavian, Barbara Bonney as Sophie, Aage Haugland as Baron Ochs and Jonathan Summers as Herr Faninal. Robert Tear stands out in the small role of Valzacchi. A libretto and subtitles are provided. -- Joseph McLellan