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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!
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