Screengrab: White Whales and Kirk Douglas Drag Us Into The Deep Blue Hollywood Sea


from Richard Lutz

Stolid if not boring Gregory Peck takes to the high seas in Moby Dick (Mon, Ch5; 14.15)

It was a great novel. Still is.

It is a laughably appalling movie. Director John Huston made a mega mistake by signing up po- faced Peck to be Captain Ahab in pursuit of that infamous white whale. In retrospect, John Huston should have made himself the monomanic whaling boss. Now that would have been a movie. Script by Ray Bradbury and Orson Welles gets a look in.

Most if it, by way, being an all American  salty dog nautical movie, was filmed at land locked Shepperton and Elstree studios in Old Blighty.  It looks it. Go figure.

Better left as a novel and a reminder that not all great books make great films (note to self: re-read Moby Dick)

Moving on in what turns out to be a mediocre week for films on tv, and hey, what’s this……. what the….., the latest rendition of the Moby Dick is buried waist deep in the wee wee hours (Tues; Syfy, 03.50). It is the 2010 take on the story. And it’s on Syfy so I guess the clueless channel bosses who probably can’t read joined up writing don’t understand it is not about a ten mile long spaceship but a whale. Sometimes I think the entertainment business should be destroyed and all the money given to poor people.

A bit of a laugh now midweek with This Is Spinal Tap (Wed; ITV4, 21.00). A fictional rock n roll band tours the US with no money, no ideas and no style. It is hilarious and probably sums up the cerebral level of most self delusional rock bands. I especially like when the budget falls through the floor and the stage design for a monumental Stonehenge is reduced from 18 feet to eighteen inches. It brightens a glum week.

Kung Fu Panda2 (Thu; Sky Premiere, 10/other times) is a gentle giggle that sends up a couple of genres at the same time: fantastical fantasies, Hobbit like vague mission stories and cartoons themselves. Jack Black has the right voice for the fat, clueless panda who fights bad guys, obesity, and some nasty looking wolves. Cute. And, of course, the evil peacock (yes, a peacock) has a Brit voice. All bad guys are Brit.

On the same night a gentle stroll through modern day upper middle class California with The Kids Are Alright when two women and their gay marriage split up (Thu; Sky Movies Indie, 23.30). Anne Benning and Julianne Moore deserve plaudits for finely tuned performances.

Finally back to the past with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Fri; Film4, 4.45). It is 65 years old and Kirk Douglas has all the muscles you’d wish for in this Jules Verne story. Dive into the deep blue sea as a giant squid tangles with Kirk in a wrestling match. James Mason (bad guy Brit again…see?) is Captain Nemo.