Mobsters and hoodlums are about to take over Salt Lake movie theaters.

No, the Mafia hasn't made a bid for Cineplex Odeon Theaters since Plitt has dropped its purchase bid.But over the next few months there are an awful lot of movies about gangsters scheduled to open on local screens.

The first of the lot was "GoodFellas," which started Friday, and which sets a very high standard for the rest to live up to.

"Narrow Margin," which also opened Friday, is another with organized crime providing the villains of the piece.

Still to come are "The Krays," the true story of twin brothers who terrorized London's East End in the '60s; "Desperate Hours," with Mickey Rourke and buddies hiding out in a suburban home (this one was shot in Salt Lake City); "Miller's Crossing," about gangsters in the '20s; "State of Grace," with Sean Penn returning to the old gang back home, in New York's Hell's Kitchen; "Marked for Death," with Steven Seagal battling drug dealers; and "The Grifters," about traveling con-artists.

And, of course, Francis Coppola's "The Godfather, Part III."

And you thought blood 'n' guts had ended with the summer barrage.

- "GHOST" IS HAUNTING "Pretty Woman," and it looks like it won't be long before the Patrick Swayze spectral romance passes Julia Roberts' romantic comedy to become the No. 1 moneymaking movie of the year.

"Pretty Woman" was a real sleeper, an unexpected hit in the spring that managed to ring up some $168 million over a five-month period to become the year's biggest film.

When a successful movie earns its money over an extended period rather than in the first few weeks, it is said to have staying power, or "legs." (Yes, a lot of stories during the summer said " `Pretty Woman' has great `legs.' ")

But "Ghost" really came out of nowhere, racking up $1411/2 million in just 10 weeks!

Some of the fall season's big guns are starting to open now, so how much longer "Ghost" can keep up that pace remains to be seen. But even if it slows down some it is likely to topple "Pretty Woman" from its No. 1 perch.

Even if it's just by a few million.

- HAVE YOU SEEN that trailer - theatrical preview - for the upcoming comedy "The Tall Guy," with Jeff Goldblum?

It starts off hilariously, noting that certain scenes were deleted from "The Tall Guy" in order to get the desired rating from the movie ratings board. Then the preview proceeds to show them - old black-and-white movie clips.

What's really being spoofed here is that so many Miramax films - "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" and "Hardware" among them - have been threatened with X ratings.

"The Tall Guy" is also a Miramax release. (But it wasn't ever really in X-rated territory.)

- IF YOU HAVEN'T been to a Cineplex Odeon theater lately, you're in for a pleasant surprise on your next visit.

American Express has replaced its commercials that precede the feature with a presentation of a short animated film, apparently the first in a series.

This one is a computer-animated classic called "Luxo Jr." from PIXAR.

"Luxo Jr." is familiar to those who have attended the animation collections that are a frequent fare at Cinema in Your Face! the local art film theater.

The cartoon - which is so three-dimensional and fluid it's hard to believe this is animation by computer - has as its lead characters a couple of lamps. They are apparently parent and child and the latter plays with a rubber ball, with amusing results.

I've seen it three times with an audience and the response has been very favorable each time, indicating that even if it's framed by an ad for American Express, a cartoon preceding a theatrical movie is a most welcome event.

Disney has learned this lesson, of course, and we're now getting an annual Roger Rabbit cartoon with a Disney feature. The AMC theater chain, which doesn't have any movie houses in Utah, has been showing old Warner Bros. cartoons - Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc. - in their theaters for some months now and the response has reportedly been overwhelmingly favorable. This despite each of those cartoons being a staple of daytime television.

In the meantime, check out "Luxo Jr."

It's almost worth sitting through those silly Randy Travis Coca-Cola Classic and hyper Universal Studios Tour commercials again.

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Carrie Fisher, writer of the semi-autobiographical "Postcards from the Edge," both the book and screenplay, talking with Ryan Murphy (Knight-Ridder) about how Shirley MacLaine's character is not really Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds:

"Oh, I hate it that people will think this movie's about my mother and me. That people will think she's this big non-nurturing boozer of a broad. But my mother and I were nothing like (that). My mother's not really like the Shirley character. She's lovable all the time. That's what made her a star for so long, because she had this adorable spirit." A sigh. "But oh, great, now everybody's gonna think Debbie's a drinker."