Not surprisingly, several war films occupy the weekend schedules as the VE Day celebrations draw to a close. The Battle of the River Plate and The Eagle Has Landed are on BBC 2 on Saturday and, on the same day, Darkest Hour has its première on BBC 1. The Heroes of Telemark (again) is on BBC 2 on Sunday. As these are all well known, I haven’t put them in the main listing for Week 5.
SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956) Saturday 9 May 5.05-6.45pm Paramount (Channel 31)
The first of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher westerns (all – except Westbound – are minor classics) has our grim-faced hero tracking the gang who killed his wife in a holdup.
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) Saturday 9 May 9.50pm-12.35am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Cult sci-fi stars David Bowie as the titular alien and is directed by Nicholas Roeg. It is not for all tastes, perhaps, but remains a fascinating watch.
THE LUNCH BOX (2013) Sunday 10 May 12.25-2.05am BBC 2
A superb romantic drama unfolds after the accidental delivery of lunch to a soon-to-retire accountant working in a nondescript office. It had a reaction of 85% when we showed it.
3:10 TO YUMA (1957) Monday 11 May 12.55-2.45pm Film Four
One of the great westerns – rancher Van Heflin tries to put outlaw Glenn Ford on the train before his gang frees him. Barry Curtis plays one of Heflin’s sons (‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ . . . .)
BRIGHTON ROCK (1947) Monday 11 May 7.10-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This version of the Graham Greene novel, with Richard Attenborough as the vicious Pinky, still makes for riveting viewing. The film’s US title was Young Scarface – saved on exposition, no doubt.
THE ENFORCER (1951) Monday 11 May 10.00-11.50pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Gritty drama starring a mesmerising Humphrey Bogart as the D.A. who is determined to bring down some particularly slimy villains; based on the true story of Murder Inc.
IDENTITY UNKNOWN (1945) Tuesday 12 May 3.40-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This – a rare showing – is the most interesting of the week’s B films. Richard Arlen (a big star in the late 1920s) is the amnesiac soldier travelling America hoping to discover who he is.
WIND RIVER (2017) Tuesday 12 May 9.00-11.10pm Film Four
A tracker and a FBI agent try to solve a murder on a reservation. It didn’t quite make the cut with us a couple of seasons ago, but it is worth a look if you like murder mysteries with good characters.
MOONLIGHT (2016) Wednesday 13 May 9.00-11.10pm Film Four
Moonlight was a stunning critical success, and deservedly so. It is a film of great honesty and integrity that explores the life of the son of a gay crack-addict.
SENNA (2010) Thursday 14 May 10.50pm-12.55am ITV 4 (Channel 24)
This was one of those rare instances where a documentary – in this case about racing driver Ayrton Senna – becomes a hit with the wider public as well as critics and fans of the sport.
BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945) Friday 15 May 3.00-4.30pm BBC2
This remains a superb romantic drama and one of the best British films ever made. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson are note perfect and it is a timeless piece of filmmaking.
I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! (1945) Friday 15 May 7.00-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
A second great romantic drama came along as the post-war film industry was finding its feet. Wendy Hiller falls for Roger Livesey when stranded in Scotland; it oozes charm, wit and sensitivity.
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) Friday 15 May 10.00-11.45pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
This, the most stylish of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, is quite a marvel of low-budget filmmaking. A plague stalks mediaeval Italy.
PAWN SACRIFICE Friday 15 May 11.20pm-1.05am BBC 2
Making its Freeview debut, this is a largely unheralded drama about the Fischer/Spassky contests that enthralled the world. Edward Zwick directed Glory, a fine film about the American Civil War.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES FROM WEEK 3 (again)
It was a good week for black and white thrillers that managed to marry a superficial realism with an entertaining story. It had been some years since I last watched Highly Dangerous and I’d forgotten what a good job Roy Ward Baker had made of it. Interestingly, it is Margaret Lockwood who has top billing – and she is both a scientist and the hero of the piece; Dane Clark plays second fiddle. More specifically, she is an entomologist – how groundbreaking was that in 1950? It did set me thinking about other entomologists on film . . . . both Edmund Gwenn and Joan Weldon, as his daughter, in the classic Them! (1954) and Leo G Carroll in Tarantula the following year (although I think he might just have been an ‘ordinary’ scientist) come to mind. Robert Flemyng was one in The Blood Beast Terror (1967); he had the misfortune to have a giant moth pretending to be his daughter! Yes you are right – it isn’t a very good film, despite the presence of Peter Cushing. However, the merit badge has to go to Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949). Although I don’t recall an entomologist as such, we have a Gene Autry B western that has an invasion of tussock moths central to the plot, plus (if the science turns you off) the Cass County Boys AND a singing trio known as The Pinafores (don’t ask) to keep you from getting bored. Top that if you can!
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