There are a lot of films in the ‘enjoyably above average category’ in WEEK 4, but few that are bona fide classics. Even so, we can still make it a good week!
2-8 MAY 2020
WILL PENNY (1968) Saturday 2 May 4.05-6.20pm Paramount (Channel 31)
Charlton Heston gives one of his finest performances as the itinerant cowboy who comes up against a villainous Donald Pleasence and Bruce Dern. A very good film that is difficult to fault in any way.
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY (2018) Saturday 2 May 8.30-10.30pm BBC 2
See introduction! But, this story of a struggling novelist visiting a Guernsey farmer will be an enjoyable watch for many. It is its first showing on a free to view channel.
LEE MILLER: A LIFE ON THE FRONT LINE Saturday 2 May 10.30-11.30pm BBC 2
This is an impressive documentary about the model turned photographer and war reporter – well worth a look, especially if you enjoyed A Private War recently.
KING CREOLE (1958) Sunday 3 May 3.40-6.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Elvis Presley’s films were always popular with audiences, but he only had two opportunities to really act (Flaming Star was the other). He’s a singer fighting gangster Walter Matthau in New Orleans.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985) Sunday 3 May 4.40-6.55pm Film Four
This is an excellent adaptation of EM Forster’s novel with Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham Carter on particularly fine form; Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are also in the cast.
CROSSROADS TO CRIME (1960) Monday 4 May 8.10-9.20am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Spare an hour to revisit the good old British B film, where crimes are plotted over a mug of tea in a roadside café? Not even if it’s the only live-action film directed by Gerry (Thunderbirds) Anderson?
MOONRISE (1948) Monday 4 May 11.00am-12.50pm Film Four
Not many will know the director, Frank Borzage, but when on song he could bring a lyricism and ethereal visual quality to his work that few others have matched.
HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) Monday 4 May 9.00-11.35pm Film Four
This is the true story – hidden from the public for decades – of three mathematicians whose work was essential to Nasa in the 1960s. No doubt this was because they were (a) black and (b) women.
THE TURNING POINT (1952) Tuesday 5 May 11.00am-12.45pm Film Four
A rare showing (it must be; I haven’t seen it) for this crime-busting drama starring William Holden. The strong supporting cast includes Edmond O’Brien and Neville Brand.
REACH FOR THE SKY (1956) Tuesday 5 May 1.00-3.10pm BBC 2
Kenneth More stars as war hero Douglas Bader in the best of this week’s war films, showing on BBC 2 as part of its VE Day programming.
LET GEORGE DO IT (1940) Wednesday 6 May 5.30-7.10pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
One of George Formby’s better films in which he somehow ends up in Bergen instead of Blackpool! The ‘five doors with a song’ scene is a minor classic of comedic timing.
ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976) Thursday 7 May 12.40-2.50pm Film Four
This is a wonderful extension of the Robin Hood myth as Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn meet again in their twilight years. By the end, you are thinking ‘that’s how it was’ so cleverly is it written.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (2016) Thursday 7 May 9.00-11.05pm Film Four
This comedy was a great success for us (92%); it’s a chance to enjoy it again, or to tell your friends so that they can cheer themselves up!
WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? Friday 8 May 9.00-11.15am Channel 32
We finish the week with one of our early successes (1994-95, 92%) as a young Johnny Depp looks after his brother, an even younger Leonardo DiCaprio, in a whimsical and very touching drama.
FINALLY – if you’d like to catch the only Inspector Morse directed by our friend Peter Duffell, Last Bus to Woodstock is on ITV 3 (Channel 10) Tuesday 5 May 11pm-1.15am. It’s a good one!
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
FROM WEEK 3
As I settled down to watch The Atomic City (with a pizza and a glass of wine) and the cast list appeared on screen, I realised that there was a very strong westerns connection running through it. Gene Barry played Bat Masterson; Nancy Gates was in the excellent Randolph Scott western Comanche Station (and several TV series); Lee Aaker’s involvement with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin I mentioned last week; Milburn Stone was Doc Adams in Gunsmoke for twenty years; Bert Freed played Ryker in the 1966 TV series Shane (and, if memory serves, appeared next to Emile Meyer – who played Ryker in the film Shane – in the cast list of Paths of Glory). Then there is the director, Jerry Hopper, who worked extensively on the TV series Wagon Train. Please don’t worry, it isn’t a family curse – I just can’t approach a vintage film any other way . . . .
On we go to week 3 – we hope that you all continue to be safe and well. There are more thrillers than usual this week, but such things are usually just a quirk of the scheduling. Anyway we hope you enjoy the selection.
24 APRIL – l MAY 2020
THE ATOMIC CITY (1952) Saturday 25 April 7.45-9.30pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Gene Barry’s debut as a leading man. He’s a scientist whose son is kidnapped; Lee Aaker (the son) was in Hondo the next year with John Wayne then did 164 episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.
LOVE ON THE DOLE (1941) Sunday 26 April 4.00-6.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Deborah Kerr was a star from this film on – and deservedly so. Director John Baxter was the Ken Loach of his day and he captures perfectly the hardship, and hope, of life in Manchester.
OPEN RANGE (2002) Sunday 26 April 6.20-9.00pm Paramount (Channel 31)
Kevin Costner directs, and stars in, probably the best western of the last 20 years. Robert Duvall and Annette Bening join him in the fight against Michael Gambon’s land baron.
THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) Sunday 26 April 10.30pm-12.30am BBC 1
One of the best, and most moving, British films ever made. John Hurt, in the title role, is supported by an excellent cast that includes Anthony Hopkins.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) Monday 27 April 12.55-2.50pm Channel 71
Hammer’s adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s black magic novel with Christopher Lee. Popular enough to be supporting Suspiria 10 years later, its critical reputation is stronger now than back then.
CHARADE (1963) Monday 27 April 2.40-4.55pm Film Four
A super gossamer-light romantic confection (with thrills), starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, that will have you thinking Hitchcock was at the helm (he wasn’t; Stanley Donen was).
NOTORIOUS (1946) Tuesday 28 April 7.00-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
A hugely convenient showing of Hitchcock’s South American-set espionage thriller, teaming Cary Grant with Ingrid Bergman. You could compare notes with Charade and write an essay!
CAPRICORN ONE (1978) Anytime on My5 (free to view)
Did the moon landing take place or was it a fake? I saw this in the cinema in 1979. My recollection is that it is an exciting, well-made story with a strong cast (Elliot Gould, James Brolin, Telly Savalas).
HIGHLY DANGEROUS (1950) Wednesday 29 April 7.15-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Scripted by Eric Ambler. Margaret Lockwood is a scientist and Dane Clark a reporter who team up on a mission behind the Iron Curtain.
RAMROD (1947) Thursday 30 April 12 noon-2.pm Paramount (Channel 31)
Interesting films are in short supply today! A noirish western starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake and directed by André de Toth; not the best work of any of them, but diverting enough.
TALK OF THE TOWN (1942) Friday 1 May 2.30-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Quite a week for Cary Grant fans; this time, he’s a fugitive from a fake murder charge who hides out with Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman. But, hey, it’s witty, intelligent and rather good.
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (2010) Friday 1 May 11.20pm-1.00am BBC 2
A well-received Silver Screen at the Regent 10 years ago – Emily Watson plays the social worker who uncovered the scandal that the children of unwed mothers had been deported to Australia.
FROM WEEK 1
Hope you were able to watch Corridor of Mirrors – it was a very stylish piece of film making. A key scene took place in a waxworks, which set me to thinking about other films that have featured them. In 1924, there was a very good expressionist horror film (called Waxworks) directed by Paul Leni. He died tragically young from blood poisoning in 1929, after he had gone to Hollywood; otherwise, his work might well have eclipsed that of Tod Browning. The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1932) is a good early work of Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and a good use of two-colour Technicolor. House of Wax (1953), with Vincent Price, was the most successful 3D film of the decade and is still classier than the 2004 update. Not so good is Chamber of Horrors (1966), which needed the gimmicks of a Tony Curtis cameo and the sounding of a “Horror Horn” just before a scary bit so you could close your eyes! It is still a better film, however, than Waxworks (1988) and Waxworks II (1992) – these should be avoided!
FROM WEEK 2
Robinson Crusoe has always attracted the attention of film makers, although not remotely comparable to Sherlock Holmes in frequency, for example. Stanley Baker did a two hour BBC production in 1974 and Pierce Brosnan took on the role in a 1998 release that was not well received. Probably the best critical reception was for The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe in 1952, for which Daniel O’Herlihy was nominated for an Oscar. The director was the legendary Luis Bruñel – this film plus Wuthering Heights the next year, might be considered unusual projects for him! I have very fond memories of the 13-part serial The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe that was first transmitted by the BBC in 1965, and that seemed to be on in every school holiday thereafter. It is available on DVD from Network and holds up very well. Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island (Republic’s only 14 chapter serial, released in 1936) starred Mala (as Mala) and I don’t think Daniel Defoe would have recognised it as his work, had he gone to see it!
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