Screengrab: Movies On The Box


by Richard Lutz

Screengrab opens this week with a five star heads up for Cool Hand Luke (TCM; Thurs, 11.20pm) Now, here’s a film that really changed things.

It was a 1960’s story about rebellion – but not in the counter culture/long hair/smoking pot kind of way. It was the slowburn truculence of Paul Newman’s character who dug his heels into the red prison earth and just plain refused to buckle under.

Newman is the Christ like figure who wanted it his way and died for it.

Coming as it did in the summer of love (’67), it offers a symbol that really did resonate with America- the loner who does not join any platoon of the American Dream- just a small guy who wants to go his way, whether he breaks  petty laws or not. It was not burn, baby, burn nor was it sits ins and demos. Just one man against a culture that he never fit into.

Newman is superb. And the sharp Southern light (actually, it was filmed in California) makes his blue eyes dance.

Movie gossip says Bette Davis was at one time picked to be Luke’s mother in the film. It went to actress Jo van Fleet. And Strother Marrtin, who acted in quite a few Newman pictures, is the nasty prison top man. Jack Lemmon owned the company that co-produced it.

It’s a solid American classic  that launched the actor into the superleagues with movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and then The Sting (both with Robert Redford).

Also on Thursday is another great movie- this one from Martin Scorsese. It’s Casino (ITV4; Thurs, 10.35pm) with Robert de Niro. Either you like the Scorsese/de Niro recipe of great scripts, heavy violence and the underbelly of the States or you don’t. This one is one of the team’s better efforts with Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci co-starring in a New York/Las Vegas epic.

Other films to check out: Jackie Brown directed by Quentin Tarintino (Sky Movies Indie; Mon, 11.50pm) is a sleazy take on  lowlife characters the director loves so much. And a nice love story to boot. On the same day, Blithe Spirit (Film4, 11.ooam) is a Noel Coward classic. Rex Harrison stars and David Lean directs.

The terrestrial channels have almost nothing to offer- are films being shunted onto digi-platforms? Just Quadrophenia (ITV1, Wed, 12.30 am) which features a very young Sting and summons up the ghosts of The Who on a Brighton pier.

Wednesday also gives you Henry Fonda in glorious black and white being hard pressed in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (TCM; Wed, 4.35pm)