Crime: Echoes of the Sound Track

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On the screen a dozen mobsters are gunned down, spoiling a Mafia family meeting in an Atlantic City hotel. In a theater in Valley Stream, N.Y., a late-night showing of The Godfather Part III produced real violence at about the same point in the movie.

The trouble apparently began with two groups of youths shouting back and forth, each urging the other to be quiet. Then gunfire erupted and nearly 600 panicky moviegoers stampeded out of the dark auditorium. When the lights went on, four innocent spectators lay wounded by the cross fire, one of them fatally. Police said four handguns had been used in the shootout.

What accounts for such behavior? Probably not the movie, which has a few violent scenes, but is so arty and slow-moving that some viewers have fallen asleep while watching it. The flick does, however, attract large numbers of well-armed urban youths for whom gunplay has become routine. Says Nassau County detective William Krausch: "I think it's just the crowd."