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TV Films of the week (08/12/12): A telling tale of England as it might have been


Film choice

Tuesday: Went the Day Well?

12.50pm Channel 4

(Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942) Brambly End is an ordinary, pretty, sleepy English village, until a fifth columnist invites a troupe of Nazis to stay and the villagers must take extreme measures to repel them. Ealing Studio's 1942 Graham Greene adaptation is a bracing if not downright subversive propaganda film, an endearing time capsule, and a still highly effective action thriller. Leslie Banks and Basil Sydney head the cast. *****

Saturday: Back to the Future

3.55pm ITV1

(Robert Zemeckis, 1985) Michael J Fox stars as regular Eighties teenager Marty McFly, whose friendship with a local madcap inventor (Christopher Lloyd) results in his driving back to the mid-Fifties, disrupting the space-time continuum by forming an Oedipal triangle with his then-teenage parents, and inadvertently giving birth to rock'n'roll. If only all family movies were this smart, wildly inventive and fun. *****

Sunday: Local Hero

4.50pm Film4

(Bill Forsyth, 1983) Texas oilman Burt Lancaster sends minions Peter Reigert and Peter Capaldi to the small Scottish fishing village that he wants to buy up and replace with an oil refinery complex. Once there, however, they are charmed by the wily locals. Bill Forsyth's small but perfectly formed human comedy is in the previously lost tradition of Ealing films such as Whisky Galore! ****

Monday: The Third Man

11.25am More4

(Carol Reed, 1949) Filmed at off-kilter angles and in expressive black-and-white amid the rubble and division of post-war Vienna, Carol Reed's superlative melancholy thriller, from Graham Greene's script, finds Joseph Cotten in over his head as he looks into the death of his old school friend, Harry Lime, but is unprepared for what he finds. Leave it to Orson Welles to make one of the all-time great movie entrances. ****

Wednesday: Age of Consent

11.20pm Film4

(Michael Powell, 1969) Michael Powell's colourful, final full-length film – made in Australia, following the hostile response at home to Peeping Tom – stars James Mason as a depleted artist whose creative juices are replenished after he relocates from New York to Queensland, and finds a coquettish muse in the form of the young Helen Mirren, who swims nude around the Barrier Reef. ***

Thursday: The Blues Brothers

1.30pm & 10pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(John Landis, 1980) By far the best film yet derived from a Saturday Night Live sketch, this simultaneously deadpan and delirious rock'n'roll musical comedy is not quite like anything else. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star as Jake and Elwood Blues, on a mission from God to reform their band, while additional musical numbers are performed by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown. ****

Friday: Australia

9pm More4

(Baz Luhrmann, 2008) It's set in a real time and place – Australia's northern territory before the outbreak of war, and then during the post-Pearl Harbour Japanese invasion – but Baz Luhrmann's mock-epic romantic adventure story is an impressive work of pure filmic artifice; the country's landscapes are made to look as vivid and pretty as a painted studio backdrop. Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman star. ****