RICHARD LUTZ takes a brisk canter through the tv listings to find the best films on the box.
Hollywood is on the backburner this week and when you look at what is offer, you can start waving the Union Jack. The best is British for a variety of reasons.
Let’s start with Tuesday. The Lavender Hill Mob (13.35 Ch4) is a classic Ealing comedy from 1951. Alec Guinness is a fussy clerk who leads an inept gang trying to steal gold bullion from a bank. His henchmen are Sid James, Stanley Holloway and Alfie Bass and together they succeed (kind of). Watch out for a first time screen appearance from a gamine Audrey Hepburn who turns up in the first scene as a dancer and then disappears. Charfles Crichton (who returned to directing with A Fish Called Wanda decades later) is in charge.
The Ealing magic continues only hours later (17.10. Film4) when Guinness re-emerges in The Ladykillers. Again, a boarding house, again a gang of bumbling likeable bad guys. Guinness, who never puts a foot wrong in light comedy, is the slightly whacko Prof Marcus in charge of the oddball gang of crooks. Peter Sellers puts in an early screen appearance. It’s hilarious.
This pair of films is enough to set the hard drive spinning. But stay with me because on Wednesday, comes a small Britgem in Private’s Progress with Ian Carmichael leading a gang in uniform out to nick stolen art in post war Germany. Terry Thomas is in attendance too.
And finally, to keep the flag flying, on the same day, August 21, comes Clueless (20.00 E4). OK, it’s a Yank film with Alicia Silverstone as a high school dating agency. But it is all based on Jane Austen’s Emma which makes it an intriguingly intelligent film and features the great prune faced Dan Hedaya as the put upon dad.
So get out the bunting, sing Rule Britfilmia, stand at attention toward Buckingham Palace and be proud that this small island is the originator of such good movies.