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It’s comforting that the country’s situation has improved these last few days. Quite when cinemas will re-open is an unknown, of course, and it is alarming to hear that 40% of China’s cinemas might not. So, we’ll continue with our weekly list – and hope that you weren’t put off by some of last week’s unusual suggestions! Incidentally, we don’t know HOW the films will be shown – that is to say, in the correct aspect ratio or not. For example, The Alamo (1960) is likely to be transmitted full frame this weekend, whereas it was filmed in Todd-AO and should be letterboxed.
13 – 19 JUNE 2020
TUNES OF GLORY (1960) Saturday 13 June 11.10am-1.25pm Paramount (Ch 31)
Alec Guinness and John Mills spar superbly as two dyed-in-the-wool army officers (although it was Mills who won Best Actor at Venice). It reminds one a little of Olivier and Michael Caine in Sleuth.
NORTH WEST FRONTIER (1959) Saturday 13 June 6.25-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
In 1959, British cinema still had the confidence – and money – to team Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall and film in colour and widescreen. He’s a soldier tasked with protecting a young prince.
COP LAND (1997) Saturday 13 June 11.55pm-2.00am ITV 4 (Channel 24)
With de Niro, Keitel and Ray Liotta also appearing, Sylvester Stallone had to up his game as an out-of-shape New Jersey cop fighting corruption. He succeeded and gave his best performance to date.
DEAD END (1937) Sunday 14 June 12.15-2.05pm Channel 54
This is classic, golden age WB: Joel McCrea sets the good example, Humphrey Bogart the bad, to the kids trapped in tenement hell. Both the sets and the direction by William Wyler are superb.
THE BIG COUNTRY (1958) Sunday 14 June 1.40-4.25pm BBC 2
This saga of two feuding ranchers is as much a majestic soap opera (somewhere between Giant and the TV series Dallas) as a western. Wyler (next up: Ben-Hur) had a great cast to work with (Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker and Heston) and Jerome Moross composed a truly memorable score.
SUDDEN FEAR (1952) Sunday 14 June 6.00-8.10pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Playwright Joan Crawford is in quite a fix – her husband is planning to kill her. Well, if you marry Jack Palance . . . .
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (2014) Monday 15 June 12.35am-2.05am BBC 2
This well-made French drama from the Dardenne brothers stars Marion Cotillard as a factory worker fighting to save her job with little support from her colleagues.
ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947) Monday 15 June 1.45-4.00pm Paramount (Channel 31)
By 1946, John Wayne had enough clout at Republic to become a producer and this is an unusual, noble first effort. He’s the badman and Gail Russell the Quaker who reforms him.
A KIND OF LOVING (1962) Monday 15 June 11.00pm-1.15am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
An essential, quite brilliant, kitchen-sink drama with Alan Bates and June Ritchie portraying the young couple whose ‘mistake’ forces them to marry. Thora Hird is equally memorable as the mother.
THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK (1943) Tuesday 16 June 12.40-2.45pm Film Four
This priceless comedy is one of the best of the 1940s. Pregnant Betty Hutton tries to figure out which GI is the father; the real miracle is how Preston Sturges circumvented the censors!
THE KILLING (1956) Tuesday 16 June 2.45-4.25pm Film Four
For most people, Kubrick means Dr Strangelove and The Shining, but it is this film that announced a striking new talent. The planning of a racetrack robbery is meticulous – what can possible go wrong?
A FAREWELL TO ARMS (1932) Wednesday 17 June 7.10-9.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This version of the Hemingway classic is a little creaky in places, but Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are very moving, the cinematography is excellent and there’s an outstanding montage sequence.
THE STARS LOOK DOWN (1939) Wednesday 17 June 3.00-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Still one of the best British films – Michael Redgrave is the miner looking to get on; Margaret Lockwood the woman he marries. It is rich in detail, evocative and deeply satisfying.
THE FALLEN IDOL (1948) Thursday 18 June 2.45-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Carol Reed directs again (see previous entry) and Graham Greene contributes to the script, from his original story. A young boy idolises a servant suspected of murder.
THE WINSLOW BOY (1948) Thursday 18 June 5.30-8.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
The late 1940s was an excellent time for British cinema. Here, an immaculate Robert Donat is the barrister who defends a naval cadet charged with theft.
ST. VINCENT (2014) Thursday 18 June 11.45pm-1.50am Film Four
Bill Murray is on fine comedic form as the rude, cantankerous neighbour of single mum Melissa McCarthy and her son. Incidentally, the film clip on his TV is from Abbott & Costello’s Africa Screams.
THE TIN STAR (1957) Friday 19 June 2.50-4.40pm Film Four
This Anthony Mann western gets better with each viewing. Bounty hunter Henry Fonda reluctantly helps inexperienced young sheriff Anthony Perkins. It is up there with the best of the genre.
NIGHT MAIL (1936) Friday 19 June 4.35-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Showing here is the legendary documentary short about the Euston to Glasgow Travelling Post Office, set to Britten’s music and the verse of W H Auden.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) Friday 19 June 5.00-7.10pm Channel 40
This is still as good as prime Hollywood films get. Oscar-winner Humphrey Bogart’s old soak takes missionary Katharine Hepburn down river to take on a German gunboat.
SELMA (2014) Friday 19 June 11.20pm-1.20am
This is a timely showing for a very good recreation of the 1965 marches to advance civil rights. If Martin Luther King’s speeches are not entirely as you remember them, some changes were necessary for reasons of copyright.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES FROM WEEK 9
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE . . . .
I hope that someone out there enjoyed the majestic Alpine scenery in The Trollenberg Terror (well, okay, it was studio sets and library footage in this instance). Films set in such locations have long been popular, if not prolific. Broadly speaking, they fall into two categories: where the environment is an integral part of the drama, and where the scenery is more of an exploitative backdrop. Almost 100 years ago, in 1924, the famous cycle of German “mountain films” was under way with Mountains of Destiny, soon to be followed by The Holy Mountain (1926) and the stunning The White Hell of Pitz Palü (1929). Leni Riefenstahl, who had appeared in it, went on to make The Blue Light in 1932 and it was this film that brought her to the attention of Adolf Hitler. (She had a photo of herself, from this film, hanging on her bedroom wall until she died.) Fast forward to 2014 and Force Majeure was garnering an equivalent amount of critical praise. In between, Robert Newton searched for Nazi gold in Snowbound (1948), Glenn Ford climbed The White Tower (1950) and Spencer Tracy The Mountain (1956), and Clint Eastwood made The Eiger Sanction (1975). In the exploitative corner, we have The Snow Creature (1956) in which the Yeti is stuck in customs (an early form of quarantine to safeguard one’s borders, I suppose), Hammer’s The Abominable Snowman (1957, ‘set’ in the Himalayas, with Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker) and Roger Corman’s Ski Troop Attack (1960). The TVM Snowbeast (1977) had Clint Walker, but little else of interest; whereas A Cold Night’s Death (1973) was rather good. However, since it is set in an Arctic research station, I cannot really make a case for it here!
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