Richard Lutz checks out the best and quirkiest tv movies on the box this week
If you plunder the tv listings over the weekend, there are some movie gems ready to enjoy.
Movie of the week is Johnny Guitar. (Wed Ch4, 13.00). It has Sterling Hayden (the bad cop from Godfather) in his blonde youthful phase early in his career. He is a cowboy stud in buckskin that doesn’t carry a gun..but a six string guitar. It is great camp fun, probably for the fact that it is quickly obvious this Hollywood hunk (who famously made a jerk out of himself during the McCarthy witch hunts) can’t actually strum his cowboy axe. Cut to Johnny Guitar ready to sing a cowboy lullaby; cut to a three quarter shot of him with the guitar; then cut to some fancy fretwork. You never see the boy actually finger a couple of chords.
He’s caught between a tough masculine woman- Joan Crawford and those eyebrows- and a nasty psycho cattle rancher in the shapely shape of Mercedes McCambridge. I won’t tell you what happens. But it’s directed by Nicholas Ray who never allowed for an easy American dream.
Let’s stick with ridiculous westerns and on Monday (Ch4 at 13.10) John Wayne hoists his aging body onto a horse to reprise his True Grit role in a second rate sequel called Rooster Cogburn. It is one of his last roles and Katherine Hepburn is in it. If you like the original, True Grit from 1968 is on (Tues Film4, 14.45) with Glen Campbell in support.
Probably last year’s all round best film Winter’s Bone is on Sky Movies Indie (Tues 20.20)- a beautiful and sober film about Appalachia, the illicit murderous drugs trade that now has taken over from moonshine in them thar hills and a young woman who has to fend for herself. It was just too raw for the Oscars. It is disturbing and well made.
Tuesday also sees Marilyn Monroe in full Marilyn mode in Niagara (Film4 11.50). Critics argue over whether this a classic or a damp drippy melodrama. Find out yourself.
Thursday sees a classic Mafia drama. Goodfellas (ITV4 22.35) with de Niro Pesci , Lotti and every other film hood that matters. Great stuff
Back to the wild west on Thurs (Ch4 13.05) when a young Henry Fonda shows us the romanticised side of Jesses James from 1939. He was a devil, that Henry, and Tyrone Power gives added weight as his brother.
And one to argue over: The Eagle (Sky Movies Indie Fri, 22.00) has a Roman soldier going over the top (of Hadrian’s Wall) back in the good old days to take on the barbarian Picts. I saw this with my Scottish brother in law who saw the centurions as thuggish fascists and the Picts as hardpressed freedom fighters. Funny that.
Finally, if you like your lips British, stiff and upper, there’s This Happy Breed (Monday More4, 11.15) and They Who Dare (Tues, Ch4 13.05).