Radioactive (2019), the story of Pierre and Marie Curie, was shown again last Saturday immediately before episodes 3 & 4 of the 1980 7-parter Oppenheimer. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon starred in an early biopic Madame Curie 80 years ago and Christopher Nolan’s epic Oppenheimer has just been to the Radway, so it seems reasonable to assume that radioactivity has remained a ‘hot topic’ during the years in between. Often, though, the films contributed little to the scientific debate: Mickey Rooney’s The Atomic Kid (1954) purported to be a comedy, The Atomic Man (1955) was able to step into the future and, whilst X the Unknown (1956) was a rather good Hammer horror, it didn’t do a lot for Scottish tourism. However, On the Beach (1959) did film Nevil Shute’s novel of nuclear Armageddon very respectfully. Perhaps the most intriguing drama, that predated all of the above, was The Invisible Ray (1936). Made only two years after Marie Curie’s death, Boris Karloff is contaminated by a radioactive meteor and can then kill by touch. In real life, it was later revealed that The Conqueror (1956) was filmed on locations in Nevada that were close to nuclear test sites. Subsequently, several members of the cast and crew succumbed to cancer or related illnesses.
BENEDETTA (2021) Sunday 27 August 11.15pm-1.55am Film Four P
The difficulty with director Paul Verhoeven has always been that you are never sure if you are getting a Black Book (given 85% by members in 2008) or Showgirls. This film manages to be both – it is a serious study of the nature of faith in 17th-century Tuscany, but with a fair amount of sex as a novice nun becomes enamoured of one of her fellow trainees. Fair to say, it might not end well . . .
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955) Monday 28 August 8.45-11.15pm TP (Channel 82)
Otto Preminger directed two films in the 1950s that pushed against censorship boundaries: The Moon is Blue (1953) and tonight’s rare Freeview showing. Frank Sinatra is the drug addict (he was Oscar-nominated), Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak are also excellent and Elmer Bernstein contributes a splendid jazz score.
iHUMAN (2019) Tuesday 29 August 10.00-11.35pm BBC 4 P
Good or evil? 2023 has seen serious debate over AI and urgent requests for scientific conferences to discuss where it might be taking us. So, this timely documentary from the Storyville team is most welcome!
CLASSIC MOVIES: THE STORY OF THE THIRD MAN Thursday 31 August 8.00-9.00pm Sky Arts (Ch 11)
This isn’t a movie, but the first in a 6-part series of documentaries fronted by film critic Ian Nathan and colleagues including the great Derek Malcolm, who passed away recently. It should be enjoyable and quite illuminating; the film itself is still available on BBC iPlayer.
Earlier this week, I was saddened to read about the death of film composer Carl Davis. I first became acquainted with his music when watching The World at War as a teenager; a little later it was his work for the equally superb series Hollywood. Next, he and Kevin Brownlow collaborated on restoring films for Thames silents and did so much to bring early cinema back to appreciative audiences the world over, their masterpiece being Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927). He won a Bafta for his score for The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
By David Johnson
Chairman of Lyme Regis Film Society
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