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After recommending the film Goldstone recently, I’m delighted to see that series 2 of the TV series Mystery Road, starring Aaron Pedersen as Aboriginal detective Jay Swan, starts on Saturday (BBC 4) – with the bonus of Sofia Helin (The Bridge) as an archaeologist. A reminder, too, that Sky Arts has now transferred to Freeview (Channel 11). Elsewhere, there are several classics showing this week – a true sign that autumn is on the way.
RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954) Saturday 19 September 4.45-6.40pm Channel 31
Neither director Otto Preminger nor Marilyn Monroe made many westerns; this one passes a very pleasant 90 minutes. Robert Mitchum and Rory Calhoun are very good and the scenery is superb.
I, TONYA (2017) Saturday 19 September 9.30-11.25pm BBC 2
For us, no more than a possible on the questionnaire, so this Freeview première is a good opportunity to catch it. Margot Robbie does very well as skater Tonya Harding, but it was Allison Janney, playing her mother, who vacuumed up the awards.
JIMMY: ALL BY MY SIDE (2013) Saturday 19 September 11.25pm-1.15am BBC 2
This is a well-told biopic showing how, in 1966, Jimi Hendrix left New York for London, as he set out on the road to becoming (for many) the world’s greatest guitarist. Only downside: there are few standards on the soundtrack for copyright reasons. (As with Martin Luther King’s speeches in Selma).
ICE COLD IN ALEX (1958) Sunday 20 September 12.10-2.50pm Channel 40
Alex needs little introduction (especially if you are a lager drinker): John Mills, Sylvia Syms et al try and get to the safety of Alexandria in a battered old ambulance. Director J. Lee Thompson made some really good films 1957-62; after that a decline set in and highlights were very few.
THE GUNFIGHTER (1950) Sunday 20 September 2.15-4.10pm Channel 31
Gregory Peck, as Jimmy Ringo, is superb in the title role. He moves from one austere town to another (as did William S. Hart), hoping to see his son before his past and his destiny become one.
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) Sunday 20 September 4.10pm-6.15pm Channel 31
What a double bill! Henry Fonda is Wyatt Earp, Victor Mature Doc Holliday and Walter Brennan Old Man Clanton. Ford admirer Lindsay Anderson, himself a director, thought that this classic depiction of wilderness v civilisation was the maestro’s best western.
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) Sunday 20 September 3.00-6.05pm BBC 2
Also showing Thursday evening, BBC 4 (see later notes)
THE MAGIC BOX (1951) Monday 21 September 3.50-6.00pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Although it lacks historical accuracy this Festival of Britain production, with many all-star cameos, is a delight for film lovers. Robert Donat plays William Friese-Greene, the ‘inventor’ of cinema.
THE DEAD ZONE (1983) Monday 21 September 9.00-11.00pm Channel 70
It’s a shame that this Stephen King thriller about a teacher, who, after awakening from a coma, discovers he can foretell events, isn’t as appreciated as Carrie or The Shawshank Redemption.
THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) Tuesday 22 September 1.30-2.55am TP (Channel 81)
From new-style horror to old – a big game hunter (Joel McCrea) himself becomes the hunted; co-star Fay Wray was soon working on King Kong. Several versions later, this remains the best.
THE LOST CONTINENT (1968) Tuesday 22 September 10.00-11.40pm TP (Channel 81)
It’s a quiet day, so we’ll take a peek at this off-the-wall Hammer with its sea monsters, carnivorous seaweed and, of course a left-over Spanish Inquisition! Then it was cert X, now it is cert 12.
GET LOW (2010) Wednesday 23 September 6.55-9.00pm Channel 32
Highly unusual fare: Robert Duvall is a 1930s Tennessee hermit who, after 40 years, comes to town to ask for a funeral before he dies. Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray also shine and it’s a first showing.
STALAG 17 (1953) Thursday 24 September 1.40-4.00pm Film Four
The film that won William Holden (he’s a suspected stool pigeon) his Oscar, is an offbeat POW drama that blends expertly comedy, satire and a measure of tension, as only Billy Wilder can.
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) Thursday 24 September 8.00-11.05pm BBC 4
Incredible as it may seem, critics have never been unanimous in their praise of this sweeping epic. I have to say, though, that on the Regent’s screen, a few years ago, it was wonderful!
FUNNY COW (2017) Thursday 24 September 11.15pm-1.20am Film Four
Not for all tastes (so it wasn’t a popular option with our members), but Maxine Peake gives a dominant performance as the northern lass looking to go into stand-up when it was ‘men only’.
MANDY (1952) Friday 25 September 12.10-2.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Mandy, the story of a hearing-impaired child, her parents and her headmaster, was very popular and well received on release. It will still charm and satisfy a modern audience.
NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1962) Friday 25 September 10.00-11.45pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
A teacher’s wife uses witchcraft to further her husband’s career. Best known for his TV work (Jason King especially), Peter Wyngarde and the rest of the cast deliver a minor gem, genuinely chilling at times, that punches above its weight.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
We all tend to associate an actor with a particular role and believe that no-one else could possibly have done it so well. However, it is quite likely that the film’s producers didn’t see it that way. More often than not, you’ll find that several other actors were considered for the role and might even have turned it down. As I wrote last week, Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan were due to star in Casablanca (George Raft and Hedy Lamarr were also considered); here are a few more . . .
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