Film on TV

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The publicity material did nothing to sell the cerebral pleasures to be derived from Joseph L Mankiewicz's version of Julius Caesar (12.30pm BBC2). "Thrill to ruthless men and their goddess-like women in a sin- swept age!", it panted. But what does that matter when the actual film is such a stirring rendition of Shakespeare's play?

Stars often look their best in uniform - remember Kevin Costner's most gorgeous hour in that white military outfit for No Way Out? The naval uniforms worn by the leads (Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore) in Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men (9.05pm ITV) certainly lend them an aura of glamour. Would that the film itself - a rather prosaic courtroom drama about a murder on a base in Cuba - contained a similar level of allure.


In Scent of a Woman (8.20pm BBC1), Martin Brest's schmaltzy drama, Al Pacino grandstands his way to a Best Actor Oscar with his performance as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a blind ex-serviceman on a Thanksgiving weekend binge in New York with a schoolboy escort (Chris O'Donnell, Robin from Batman Forever).

Les Blair, currently shooting his latest film in South Africa, is the best improviser this side of Whose Line is it Anyway? With works such as Honest, Decent and True about advertising, and News Hounds about tabloid journalism, he has established a reputation for thoughtful "state-of- the-nation" musings that grow out of improvisations with the cast. Bad Behaviour (9pm C4) only serves to enhance that reputation. His wry account of an Islington couple (the ever dependable Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack) - even though they live in Kentish Town, they are spiritually Islington - in the throes of a mid-life crisis makes points about urban life in the 1990s without ramming them down your throat.


Nicolas Cage, widely tipped to scoop this year's Best Actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, was previously in town for Honeymoon in Vegas (10pm C4). Andrew Bergman's screwball comedy, opening a season of Cage classics, stars the drawling actor as a nobody private detective who loses his fiancee, Sarah Jessica Parker, to professional gambler James Caan in a poker game.


As with so much of Oliver Stone's work, the authenticity of his latest film, Nixon, is being called into question. All the President's Men (10.55pm BBC1) provides a more authorised version of the end of Tricky Dicky's stay in the White House. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman spark off each other well as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in Alan J Pakula's taut reading of the William Goldman script.


Ellen Burstyn picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a widow trying to make it as a singer in Martin Scorsese's assured early drama, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (2am C4), also starring Kris Kristofferson.


Dylan Thomas wrote the screenplay for The Doctor and the Devils (2.55am C4), a re-telling of the Burke and Hare story, in the 1940s, but it was not made because of the censor's disapproval. Forty years later, Mel Brooks asked Ronald Harwood to re-work the script, which was then turned into an atmospheric film, starring Timothy Dalton and Jonathan Pryce, by veteran Hammer cinematographer Freddie Francis.