Anyone who has sampled the wares at the local multiplex lately will know that this summer is likely to go on record as the most violent season in film history. The big-budget blood-and-guts bath Hollywood is serving up has not gone unnoticed by the nation's video retailers. A new survey of video dealers reveals they have action on their minds -- and they want to put it on our screens.

In its latest effort to mine its extravagantly rich library of vintage films, MGM/UA Home Video has turned to the video retailing community for help in sorting through the hundreds of worthy candidates for video release. This spring, thousands of retailers were offered a list of 100 movies not yet released on video, from which they were asked to select the 10 they thought their customers most wanted to buy or rent.

The results constitute a rousing vote of confidence for violence in the home: Eight of the top 10 vote-getters, all 10 of which will be released next month priced at $19.95, fall into the action genre.

As MGM/UA Home Video marketing vice president Ralph Tribbey puts it, "The message is crystal clear: The sell-through {video} market thrives on action."

The retailers' selections reveal that they're not picky about the time or place of the action, as long as there are big stars involved. Take the two sprawling, action epics on the list: Laurence Olivier, Charlton Heston and Ralph Richardson in the 1966 African adventure "Khartoum"; and Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr in the 1940 Oklahoma wildcatting saga "Boom Town."

World War II presents a popular backdrop, showing up in three of the selections: "Torpedo Run" (1958); Cary Grant and John Garfield in "Destination Tokyo" (1943); and Van Johnson and James Whitmore in the 1950 Best Picture nominee "Battleground."

Retailers also demonstrated a surprising fondness for a genre all but abandoned by today's moviemakers, the Western. They were especially keen on Westerns starring Charles Bronson, who headlines two of the selections: "The White Buffalo," the 1977 commercial disaster from Dino De Laurentiis that ranked second in the retail poll; and "Chato's Land," the 1972 film that started the Bronson partnership with director Michael Winner, which eventually gave the world "Death Wish" and its sequels. Sydney Pollack's "The Scalphunters" (1968, starring Burt Lancaster) represents the comedy-Western genre.

Two non-action films did manage to make the top 10. "A Patch of Blue" (1965), starring Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman, ranked third in the poll, offering the only Oscar-winning performance on the ballot (Best Supporting Actress Shelley Winters). And the winner of the poll -- by a large margin -- stars the same actor who is top-billed and the winner of a similar poll MGM/UA conducted among consumers last year: Glenn Ford, who stars with Marlon Brando in the 1956 World War II comedy "The Teahouse of the August Moon."


Rumors of a shared interest in cryogenics aside, Elvis Presley and Walt Disney would seem to make an odd couple. But Disney subsidiary Buena Vista Home Video is riding on Elvis's esteemed coattails to launch Disney's first foray into the fast-growing market for low-priced music video cassettes.

Next month Disney will release what is billed as "the ultimate Elvis collection," the two-volume set "Elvis: The Great Performances." Together, the two tapes present about two hours worth of Elvis, including 27 of the King's greatest hits. Among the obligatory rare or never-before-seen footage is Elvis's first screen test and behind-the-scenes interviews.

The music performances span his career, ranging from his first audio recording ("My Happiness") and one of his last videotaped performances ("Unchained Melody," captured on tape about six weeks before he died). An album including many of the musical performances will be released simultaneously by RCA.

As the company prepares for its own first big push into the music business with the Hollywood label, Disney is promising more video tie-ins with major music stars from other labels, although no names are being mentioned. The two Elvis volumes, "Center Stage" and "The Man and His Music," are priced at $19.95 each.