Some films become instant classics and no-one really knows why. They work. They pull the knobs, jerk the chain.
And so it is with THE RAILWAY CHILDREN (14.55, ITV). Three Edwardian children are without their father, who has vanished They need to find out the reason for his disappearance in this 1970 production based on an E. Nesbit story about children becoming aware that life ain’t as black and white as they presumed.
Jenny Agutter stars as the eldest daughter. Bernard Cribbins is the kindly Albert Perks, and, as they wave to the passing trains whistling past their northern cottage, the real stars to many are the locos that chug past. Lionel Jeffries directs this heart-tinkling tale of friendship and loss (and bittersweet happiness). Note: Old-time Labour leftie Bob Cryer, who pounded the table against Thatcher, was an extra. Aaaaah….
Hello, old bean, time for one of Britain’s funniest films: THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (14.35, Film4). Alec Guinness is Holland, the meek clerk who wants to rob squillions in bullion. You know it’ll go dipsy-doo when he recruits Stanley Holloway, Sid James and Alfie Bass (inevitably playing a guy called Shorty). Watch out for a mini glimpse of Audrey Hepburn making her first movie appearance, in this 1950 Ealing gem. Does crime pay? Well… err… as soon as the US got hold of the plot, let’s just say the ending had to change to accommodate Yank primness.
WEDNESDAY (Xmas Eve)
A bit of beautifully-done history here, the 2007 ELIZABETH; THE GOLDEN AGE (midnight, ITV). Director Shekhar Kapur salivates over the candlelight, the great costumes and the beautiful faces of Cate Blanchett (Old Bess), Samantha Morton (Mary), Eddie Redmayne (Babington) and Clive Owen (Raleigh). It is a gores seductive film and if you do 100 laps of the living room as you watch it, you can peel off 1,000 calories and be intellectually smug that you’re watching a good movie rather than Buster with Phil Collins or a Ch5 piece of cheap junk called Greatest Ever Christmas Movies).
THURSDAY (Christmas Day):
You made it to the big day itself and why not take in BACK TO THE FUTURE (10.55, ITV). That is, if you can grab a view of the 96 inch flatscreen amid the chucked-around gift wrappings and the new toys that need batteries. Everyone knows the tale: Marty McFly (Michael Fox) roars back a generation to meet his meek father as a teen nerd and help him meet his needy mother. And if the young dad doesn’t hook up, well, Marty won’t exist, will he? Strong support from Christopher Lloyd. the magical Doc Brown, and hey, the first American film highlighted this week as the previous ones are all gold-plated Brit.
Well, if you can get past Back to the Future 2 on ITV, why not get on the dancing shoes for SINGING IN THE RAIN 11.40, BBC2)? Gene and Debbie and Dennis tap-dance up a storm in a plot that is happily subsumed into some great numbers. And just how does Dennis dance up a wall and do that backflip?
That’s it. Got you through the week. Screengrab takes a break and is back in 2015 (yikes!!).