First of all, I must make a second apology of the season. Last week’s film Circumstantial Evidence was not the 1945 American B-feature with Michael O’Shea. This was a shame as it is a good little film. Rather it was the 1952 British B-feature starring Rona Anderson. In my defence, I offer the fact that the 1945 version was also listed in some of the national magazines! Anyway, I promise to take extra care with this week’s titles. One good piece of news – the Sky Arts channel will be coming to Freeview sometime around September, I think.
GUNMAN’S WALK (1958) Saturday 1 August 10.05-12 noon Channel 40
Quentin Tarantino included this brooding western in his curated season a few months ago: there’s a bad brother (Tab Hunter), a good one (James Darren) and a sturdy Van Heflin as the father.
SUNSHINE ON LEITH (2013) Saturday 1 August 12.50-2.55pm Film Four
This made a very successful Silver Screen a few years ago, due largely to the foot-tapping songs of The Proclaimers. George McKay has since gone on to even greater things in 1917.
THE DESPERATE HOURS (1955) Saturday 1 August 6.15-8.30pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
I referred to this brilliant family-held-hostage thriller a while back. Bogie, Frederic March and Arthur Kennedy is a cast made in heaven!
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973) Saturday 1 August 9.00-11.05pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
This fine drama contains the best performance Robert Mitchum gave in his later years. He’s the informer trying to stay one step ahead of some unsavoury characters.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016) Sunday 2 August 10.55am-1.00pm Channel 13
This is five star, Bafta-winning animation: orphan Kubo searches for a magical suit of armour, accompanied by a snow monkey and a beetle.
THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940) Sunday 2 August 1.15-3.20pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This masterpiece, still unrivalled, makes today a great day for fantasy drama. Sabu plays the thief and the score, art direction and Technicolor are just wonderful.
HOWARDS END (1992) Sunday 2 August 6.05-9.00pm Film Four
Two great, serious dramas are also televised today. This, one of the best-ever adaptations of a novel, with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, is the one to savour.
DANGEROUS LIASONS (1988) Sunday 2 August 10.30pm-12.25am BBC 1
The second of the day’s heavyweight dramas is set in France prior to the Revolution and is a heady mix of sexual intrigue and deceit.
ALL OVER THE TOWN (1949) Monday 3 August 9.30-11.15am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Lyme’s very own film has another run out. It is a well-acted, witty comedy drama that, barely twenty years ago, was thought to be a lost film. The producer, Ian Dalrymple, has a very interesting CV.
BILLY LIAR (1963) Monday 3 August 11.00pm-1.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
For about five years (1958-63) British cinema produced, with a host of new talent, some of its best work. This satirical drama, scripted by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, is one of them.
GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD (1958) Tuesday 4 August 11.10am-1.00pm Channel 40
Quite a curio for John Ford, and not a financial success – the US prints were even in b/w. Jack Hawkins is fine in the lead; it’s just that the London character-types are not well drawn.
DEAD CALM (1989) Tuesday 4 August 11.00pm-1.00am Channel 30
Dead Calm was the breakthrough for both Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill. He’s the husband marooned on a sinking boat; she’s the wife, trapped on another with Billy Zane’s psychopath.
ALL THE KING’S MEN (1949) Wednesday 5 August 10.45am-1.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Broderick Crawford seized his one moment of (film) glory (and an Oscar) with both hands, and gave a career-best performance as a corrupt senator. He beat both Kirk Douglas and John Wayne to the award; ironically, JW had refused the role because of the subject matter and his dislike of Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures.
THE DRESSMAKER (2015) Wednesday 5 August 11.05pm-1.25am Film Four
Seamstress Kate Winslet returns to the scene of her upbringing, looking to take revenge on those who wished her ill. It did well for us (season 2016-17, 85%).
HIROSHIMA (2005) Wednesday 5 August 10.00-11.30pm BBC 4
This is something a little different – not a film as such, but a drama documentary (narrated by John Hurt) about the events leading up to the dropping of the bomb. It’s followed (11.30pm-12.40am) by Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, a Storyville documentary, directed by Mark Cousins, that relies solely on the power of archive footage.
ON THE NIGHT OF THE FIRE (1939) Thursday 6 August 9.30-11.30am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Director Brian Desmond Hurst turns in a riveting, prototype film noir in which an East End barber (Ralph Richardson) strangles a blackmailer. It’s quite a revelation and seriously recommended.
I WILL FIGHT NO MORE FOR EVER (1975) Thursday 6 August 1.00-3.15pm Channel 40
This TVM tells the story of Joseph, chief of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perces who led the US cavalry a merry dance, for 1,600 miles, in 1877. It’s relatively authentic and done with sensitivity.
ATTACK! (1956) Friday 7 August 1.50-4.00pm Channel 31
Robert Aldrich’s brutal (for the time) war film has three excellent performances from Lee Marvin, Jack Palance and Eddie Albert who daringly (for the time) portrays a captain with a cowardly streak.
THE DANISH GIRL (2015) Friday 7 August 10.45pm-12.45am ITV 1
Eddie Redmayne is brilliant as Einar Wegener, the 1920s artist who yearned for a sex change; Alicia Vikander is equally striking as his sympathetic wife.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
It has been another sad week for film fans, with the death of Olivia de Havilland, aged 104, ending the last great link with Hollywood’s Golden Age. However, it is not quite The End – there are still industry personnel who can give us an insight into what it was like all those years ago and many of them have featured somewhere in our regular listings. Fans remain well served for the 1950s onwards, with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Carroll Baker, Eve Marie Saint and Dick Van Dyke. We have Glynis Johns (who made an early appearance in this week’s On the Night of the Fire) and Leslie Phillips, and the German actor Hardy Krüger started acting during World War II. The character actors Norman Lloyd (b. 1914) and Nehemiah Persoff (b. 1919) would, I am sure, give fascinating interviews and I have always had a particular interest in actors, like Phyllis Coates and Earl Holliman, who have done both films and a lot of TV work. Before 1950, it gets harder, of course, but Angela Lansbury was making films in the 1940s and Marsha Hunt in the 1930s. Coming full circle, I’d love to interview the child actor Mickey Kuhn, who appeared in GWTW with Miss de Havilland and later played Matthew Garth (as a boy) in Red River.
Cinemas are tentatively re-opening, but the likes of The Empire Strikes Back and Grease are only doing very moderate business. You can, of course, go to BBC iPlayer, BFI Player and other streaming sites such as Curzon Home Cinema or Mubi. Otherwise, here we are with the recommendations for next week . . . .
CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE (1945) Saturday 25 July 12.30-1.40pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
What we have here is a modest, thoughtful time filler in which Michael O’Shea fights with, and accidentally kills, a grocer; his problem is that the eyewitnesses say that it was murder.
CHAMPION (1949) Saturday 25 July 1.40-3.40pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This is one of the great boxing films and part of its greatness is the blistering performance from Kirk Douglas. He’s determined to reach the top and nothing will get in his way. The editing won an Oscar.
NORTH TO ALASKA (1060) Saturday 25 July 4.05-6.35pm Channel 40
This rollicking comedy western (northerner really) has John Wayne and Stewart Granger protecting their claim whilst squabbling over Capucine. Ernie Kovacs is very good in a supporting role.
THE POST (2017) Saturday 25 July 9.15-11.35pm Channel 4
The opening film of our 2018-19 season (90% reaction), with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks going to press over a US government cover-up, enjoys its Freeview première this evening.
DEEP IMPACT (1998) Sunday 26 July 4.10-6.00pm BBC 2
One of the first films I saw after hospitalisation; I enjoyed it then and still do. It’s about a comet on a collision course with Earth and is a much more intelligent, and balanced, drama than Armageddon.
THE SALESMAN (2016) Monday 27 July 12.10-2.10am BBC 2
A very clever riff on Death of a Salesman, from the Iranian director of A Separation (2012-13 season, 73%), sees a couple’s marriage become increasingly fractious.
LAURA (1944) Monday 27 July 2.15-3.45pm BBC 2
This is classic film noir and one of the best films of the 1940s, as detective Dana Andrews tries to solve the murder of Laura (Gene Tierney) without falling under the spell she still casts. David Raksin provides a sublime score.
ANIMAL FARM (1954) Tuesday 28 July 11.00am-12.35pm Film Four
This adaptation of Orwell’s allegory, by the team of Halas and Batchelor, was Britain’s first full-length animated film. It’s very good and Maurice Denham’s multiple voice-overs deserve special praise.
IDA (2013) Tuesday 28 July 10.45pm-12.25am Film Four
Ida did very well for us (2015-16 season, 82%); as well as being an intriguing story of a novice nun, in Poland, trying to find out what became of her parents, it is very strong technically.
A TOWN LIKE ALICE (1956) Wednesday 29 July 2.15-4.15pm BBC 2
Jack Lee made two decent war films in the 1950s (The Wooden Horse was the other); in this one, Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch are prisoners of the Japanese in Malaya.
COLD WAR (2018) Wednesday 29 July 9.00-10.45pm Film Four
The free-to-air debut of last season’s success (like Ida, 82%) is a moving romance (in b/w) inspired by the director’s own parents. It is a very impressive piece of work.
SALT OF THE EARTH (1954) Thursday 30 July 2.15-4.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This is superb and essential viewing for film lovers, made independently outside the Hollywood system as several of the participants were blacklisted. It was financed by the Miners Union and was completed despite high-level interference.
DEFENCE OF THE REALM (1985) Thursday 30 July 6.50-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
You might have fond memories of this mid-eighties conspiracy thriller in which a veteran reporter (Denholm Elliott) uncovers some government secrets.
BECOMING JANE (2006) Thursday 30 July 9.00-10.50pm BBC 4
For those of you who love anything to do with Jane Austen; here, as her career is just starting, she falls in love with a penniless lawyer. Well, it might have happened!
WAGONMASTER (1950) Friday 31 July 8.00pm-9.40am Channel 40
Wagonmaster was one of John Ford’s small personal favourites; its cast of non-stars acquits itself well and it contains some of his most lyrical moments. Jane Darwell’s trumpet can grate, however!
SABOTAGE (1936) Friday 31 July 11.25am-1.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This early Hitchcock stars Oskar Homolka as a cinema manager (!) plotting a terrorist outrage. It is full of tension, and a good marker from Hitch’s British period as to his career trajectory.
POLTERGEIST (1982) Friday 31 July 10.45pm-12.35am BBC 1
Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) foregoes the gore in this mainstream entry, but there is still a frisson or two, as a young child hears a voice from inside the TV set . . . .
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
Last week’s film Walking Out featured a father and son stranded in the wilderness. If we keep with the idea of two family members, more or less, what else comes to mind? Sammy Going South (1957) is shown occasionally; technically Sammy has been orphaned, but he does link up rather nicely with Edward G. Robinson’s diamond smuggler! A key work on racial divisions was 1951’s Cry the Beloved Country, with an excellent Canada Lee as the minister looking for his lost son, and the young man’s sister, in Johannesburg. A young Sidney Poitier was also in the cast; the only way he could gain entry to South Africa, was as an indentured servant to producer/director Zoltan Korda. Arguably, the best film of this type is Nicholas Roeg’s 1970 masterpiece Walkabout. Here, Jenny Agutter and her brother (played by Luc Roeg) are stranded in the Australian outback until they are saved by an Aborigine youth. A special word, too, for an episode of The High Chaparral entitled ‘Survival’. The Apache leave Big John and his son Blue in hostile terrain without water, to survive if they can. The use of make-up and close-ups are exemplary and it is a very fine example of 1960s drama. It is Season 1: episode 18 and it might turn up on Channel 67 in the next week or so, in the current run of repeats!
Welcome to a new week! The football has been going well, the cricket is under way and we have had several Wimbledon rewinds, but we can still find the time for a few films, I hope. Traditionally July and August are quiet months, so it is a pleasant surprise to find that there is a good selection of recent releases, some new to Freeview, this week. Failing that the re-appearance of TV shows from yesteryear continues apace. Since Monday 13 July CBS Justice (Channel 39) has been running The Fugitive, as well as Perry Mason continuing, and ITV 4 (Channel 24) is now showing Dempsey and Makepeace and Robin of Sherwood.
FIGHTING COAST GUARD (1951) Saturday 18 July 3.45-5.30pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Another Republic/Joe Kane potboiler (this time with Brian Donlevy) concerns shipyard workers who join up after Pearl Harbor. Just about passes the time, with a cup of tea and slice of cake!
DARK CITY (1950) Saturday 18 July 8.00-10.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Charlton Heston’s main feature debut isn’t shown often; probably because he’s a cynical, anti-hero, here, who is stalked by a psychopath. It’s competently done, without hitting the heights.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017) Saturday 18 July 9.15-11.30pm Channel 4
This superb drama and character study (Mildred, you might remember, is not happy with the local police) was a big success for us (2018-19 season, 90%) and has its free-to-air première tonight.
JACKIE (2016) Saturday 18 July 11.30pm-1.20am Channel 4
Another Freeview première for this biopic of Jackie Kennedy as she comes to terms with JFK’s assassination. The performances were excellent - as were the reviews – and it was a surprise that it didn’t connect with our members (2017-18 season, 65%). Perhaps it will play better on TV?
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY (2013) Sunday 19 July 12.45-2.40pm Film Four
This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel has lots of twists and turns, as Viggo Mortensen’s conman accidentally kills a private detective whilst on the run in Greece.
HELL OR HIGH WATER (2016) Sunday 19 July 9.00-11.05pm Film Four
This thriller was reviewed very well on its release. Chris Pine and Ben Foster are the brothers who rob banks to save the ranch; Jeff Bridges is the Texas Ranger hunting them. Highly recommended.
WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN (1957) Monday 20 July 12.45-2.35pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
The film whose success ushered in a whole series of kitchen sink dramas. Yvonne Mitchell is magnificent as the wife trapped in a stultifying marriage and suffering from clinical depression.
WALKING OUT (2017) Monday 20 July 11.10pm-1.05am Film Four
Our third Freeview première is the story of a father and son stranded in the wilderness. It’s a more modest venture than the first two, but worth a look.
CHUKA (1967) Tuesday 21 July 1.50-4.00pm Channel 31
It’s not brilliant, this long-ago staple of The Saturday Western (entry no. 33 in the list I started in Sept 1975), but is a little different and has a good cast (Rod Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, John Mills).
ODD MAN OUT (1947) Tuesday 21 July 4.35-6.55pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This contains probably the best performance James Mason ever gave. He’s an IRA man on the run in an eerie and unforgiving Belfast; the great Carol Reed directs.
I AM NOT A WITCH (2017) Tuesday 21 July 11.40pm-1.30am Film Four
Another of L.R.F.S.’s almost – but not quite – bookings. A young African girl is accused of witchcraft and sent away, in punishment, to a witch camp.
THE FUGITIVE (1947) Wednesday 22 July 7.30-9.30am Channel 40
The film The Fugitive – an adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory – was deemed unfilmable at the time and was a financial failure for Argosy, John Ford’s company. Technically it is masterful especially Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematography.
FARGO (1995) Wednesday 22 July 11.45pm-1.50am ITV 4 (Channel 24)
We have listed this Coen brothers’ masterpiece before, but good viewing options are sparse today. And there’s no harm in watching it again – multiple viewings can be rewarding!
PURSUED (1947) Thursday 23 July 12.45-2.50pm Film Four
This is a very unusual psychological drama in a bleak western setting, as Robert Mitchum tries to unlock his childhood trauma, so as to control events rather than be led by them.
SWEET COUNTRY (2017) Thursday 23 July 9.00-11.15pm Film Four
Première no. 4: An Aboriginal farm labourer goes on the run in the Northern Territory after killing a white man in self-defence. Films such like this have done well for us over the years.
THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) Thursday 23 July 11.10pm-12.45am Channel 70
This is the film that made Hammer studios – Peter Cushing is Baron von Frankenstein, Christopher Lee the monster and a key element is the lurid colour.
PEEPING TOM (1960) Friday 24 July 10.00pm-12 midnight Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Vilified on release, to the extent that it brought Michael Powell’s mainstream career to a premature close, it is now recognised as a key work in British cinema. Carl Boehm, in a once-in-a-lifetime role, is the photographer-killer who films his victims at their moment of death.
FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965) Friday 24 July 11.20pm-1.25am BBC2
The second in the famous trilogy (unless you are of the opinion that, chronologically, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly started it) is a fitting tribute to composer Ennio Morricone.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
Rio Lobo (1970) was shown again a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t list it as, whilst it has some great moments, it is the weakest of the five films that Howard Hawks and John Wayne made together. What it does have, is one of my favourite opening credit sequences: filmed as though from the inside of a Spanish guitar with the theme then being used through the film. A good title sequence can be a work of art in itself and add much to one’s enjoyment of the film. For example, think of Maurice Binder’s work on the Bond films, the Pink Panther films, Star Wars (1977) or the genius that was Saul Bass (Anatomy of a Murder and so many others). Some more personal favourites are a bloodied knife cutting through the screen in Duel at Diablo (1966); the reverse crawl employed in Kiss Me Deadly (1955); the revolving bust used in the Edgar Wallace B films. Some of the better quality DVD releases also enable you to enjoy the film as it was presented for roadshow engagements. Ben-Hur (1959) and How the West Was Won (1962) can be purchased with overture, intermission/entr’acte and exit music and it is a wonderful experience!
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