Twenty years ago, I would probably have been trying to cut down a list of 100 films to ten for the Christmas holidays. In 2023, I am trying to come up with five! Sign of the times, I suppose. The BBC has its tie in with Disney and not much else; the exciting debuts (if any) are on the streaming platforms and the remainder, with the odd exception, are on permanent repeat cycles. The most interesting items are from the BBC’s television archives: The Singing Detective, a couple of Noel Coward from their Playhouse series and Pride and Prejudice. Never mind – a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all! See you in 2024.
THE COURIER (2020) Tuesday 26 December 10.30pm-12.20am BBC 2 P
It is 1962 the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Benedict Cumberbatch is a businessman recruited by MI6 as tensions continue to rise. Apparently, it is based on a true story.
RESPECT (2020) Thursday 28 December 9.00-11.20pm BBC 2 P
This decent biography of the legendary singer is the centrepiece of an Aretha Franklin Night. Jennifer Hudson acquits herself well but she cannot equal the real deal, of course. So, the documentary Amazing Grace is repeated at 1.35am and Aretha Franklin in Amsterdam 1968 is on screen at 11.50pm. Both are, well, amazing . . .
BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) Monday 1 January 10.00-11.50pm BBC 2
Plus IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967) 11.50pm-1.35am
Here is an excellent double bill of two of the most successful – and important – American films of the decade. Vital to the success of each were the acting partnerships: Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as the 1930s most notorious gangsters, and Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier as police officers who learn to respect each other amid the racial tensions of the Deep South. In the Heat of the Night was the big winner at the Oscars (five in all). Interestingly, for a relatively recent major film, it was in need of some major restoration just a few years ago.
SUDDENLY (1954) Thursday 4 January 4.50-6.20pm TP (Channel 82)
Modest only in its running time, Suddenly is a cracking thriller. Frank Sinatra leads a team of assassins which is holding a family hostage as they wait for the President’s cavalcade to pass by. The ever-reliable Sterling Hayden is excellent, too. After JFK was assassinated, a distraught Sinatra took the film out of circulation.
By David Johnson
Chairman of Lyme Regis Film Society
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