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Last weekend was a sad one for film lovers. The black actor Earl Cameron passed away, one month short of his 103rd birthday. He was a true pioneer popular with, and respected by, his peers. Key films he made include Sapphire (1959), Flame in the Streets (1961), Thunderball (1965) and Inception (2010). He also worked extensively in television (Doctor Who, Danger Man and Kavanagh QC, to name but three). The legendary film composer Ennio Morricone also passed away. A strong claim could be made that he was the best in his field, with films such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West (and in America) and Cinema Paradiso. His TV work included a superb score for The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.
DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) Saturday 11 July 11.00am-12.55pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This, one of the worst films ever made, is for those members who give the likes of Shoplifters one star! The titular heroine spends time at the Bonnie Prince Charlie Inn looking for a mate - as you would, of course. “While we’re still alive, we might as well have a cup of tea.” Priceless!
THE 39 STEPS (1935) Saturday 11 July 1.15-2.40pm BBC 2
This is as good now as it was on the day of release, with Robert Donat as Richard Hannay, Hitchcock at the helm and Madeleine Carroll as the ice blonde par excellence.
TITANIC (1953) Sunday 12 July 4.50-6.55pm Channel 40
It’s less well known than, and not as good as, A Night to Remember (1958), or the 1997 blockbuster (probably!), but you might like to check it out. Barbara Stanwyck heads the cast.
CHURCHILL (2016) Sunday 12 July 9.00-11.00pm Channel 54
Gary Oldman and Finest Hour had all the awards and audience attention, but Brian Cox, with a decided lack of prosthetic make-up, is very good. The focus is narrower, but effective nonetheless.
NO ROOM AT THE INN (1948) Sunday 12 July 10.00-11.40pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Freda Jackson is excellent as the cruel alcoholic who is put in charge of evacuee children; transferred from a successful play. Dylan Thomas co-wrote the screenplay.
THE BODY SNATCHER (1945) Monday 13 July 9.30-11.05am Channel 40
This mini-masterpiece from Val Lewton’s B-picture unit at RKO, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, is directed by Robert Wise much more imaginatively than The Sound of Music 20 years later!
JOAN OF ARC (1948) Monday 13 July 2.55-5.15pm BBC 2
A splendid failure, I suppose. Victor Fleming had directed GWTW, Ingrid Bergman stars, the colour cinematography is good; it just wasn’t anywhere near the best film of 1948.
MACBETH (2015) Monday 13 July 11.10pm-1.25am Film Four
This is a much better historical drama than Joan of Arc, although we didn’t quite programme it ourselves. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard make a very good partnership.
CROSSFIRE (1947) Tuesday 14 July 7.40-9.20am Channel 40
Roberts Young, Mitchum and Ryan head the cast in this still topical story of a murdered Jewish GI. RKO did some brilliant A-pictures as well, in amongst the misfires!
THE MAN WHO FINALLY DIED (1962) Tuesday 14 July 7.00-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
This is an OK cold war thriller in which Stanley Baker travels to Bavaria to find out about his father. The stalwart cast includes Peter Cushing and Mai Zetterling.
BOUND (1996) Tuesday 14 July 10.50pm-12.55am Channel 70
Bound is a provocative thriller, with a strong critical reputation, in which two lesbian lovers plot to steal money from the Mob. It is powerful stuff – and certificate 18.
GALLIPOLI (1981) Wednesday 15 July 4.20-6.35pm Film Four
Director Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock) does an excellent job with this moving drama about the terrible waste of young lives lost in war. Mel Gibson features prominently in an early role.
HOME OF THE BRAVE (1949) Wednesday 15 July 10.05-11.50pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Producer Stanley Kramer switched the play’s theme of anti-Semitism to one of a black GI fighting both prejudice and the Japanese. This is a very rare showing and well worth a look.
COMANCHE STATION (1960) Thursday 16 July 2.55-4.30pm Film Four
Randolph Scott’s penultimate western, nicely filmed in Cinemascope, in which he rescues a woman captive, but has others wanting the reward. It ties with Ride Lonesome in the Boetticher canon!
SALOON BAR (1940) Thursday 16 July 4.35-6.20pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Ealing didn’t just make classic comedies. This is a nice little whodunit, made on a low budget, with Gordon Harker as a bookie turned detective.
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976) Friday 17 July 9.00-11.35pm ITV 4 Channel 24
An ex-Confederate guerrilla leads a disparate group into the wilderness. Clint’s second-best (American) western after Unforgiven. The difference: this is classic Clint; Unforgiven is a classic.
20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016) Friday 17 July 11.20pm-1.10am BBC 2
Mike Mills, the director of Beginners (2012-13 season), made this as a tribute to the women he had known, or who had raised him, and it’s a very enjoyable comedy drama.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
So, everyone is on the move again! We can put behind us (just) the self-isolation of Robinson Crusoe, the first episode of The Twilight Zone, ‘Where is Everybody?’ (in which a pilot – Earl Holliman – finds himself in a town without people), and Bruce Dern’s space cruiser in Silent Running (1971). But, we still have social distancing, of course. Leaving aside Leslie Nielsen’s hysterically funny take on the use of barrier contraception in The Naked Gun (1988), the example we all ought to follow is in The Quiet Man (1952). Matchmaker Michaeleen Flynn has obtained ‘Red’ Will’s permission for Sean Thornton to court his sister. Off they go in the pony and trap, seated back to back, for, as the little man instructed: “no patty fingers and proprieties to be observed at all times.” Clearly, the film was 70 years ahead of its time!
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