TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS FILMS TELEVISION
I A Christmas Carol (BBC2) 7.45—8.50am. The plush I938 MGM version. with Reginald Owen as Scrooge. the man who must face three Christmas ghosts I 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea 8.50-10.55am. This Victorian sci-ﬁ from the Jules Verne novel makes for one of Disney's best-ever live action adventures, mainly due to the efforts of a star cast An enduring family classic. I The Never Ending Story (BBC 1) lO.55am-l2.25pm. The original and best. and an unfortunately rare example of how cinema can indeed be the perfect medium for the modem fairytale. A young boy is whisked away to a magic world of ﬂying dragons. rock monsters and other delights I Herbie Rides Again (Scottish) ll.30am— l .05pm. They can stop making Volkswagens but they’ll never stop taking Herbie ﬁlms out of the garage. Here he is stopping ruthless property developers from building a skyscraper on the site of his friend's house. I Elenya (Channel 4) l.25—3pm. An unusual choice. perhaps. for a Christmas Day movie. but this low key tale of a young girl hiding and helping a wounded German airman in rural Wales during WW2 has a touch of the childhood magic of Whistle Down The Wind. The relationship that grows between the two loners is genuinely affecting. I Ghostbusters 2 (Scottish) 3.10—5pm. The spook-catching squad have fallen on hard times (as has the concept of the ﬁlm). but when an evil demon tries to capture Sigoumey Weaver‘s baby by drawing energy from the city's slimy sewers. Aykroyd. Murray and Co are back in action. I Hook (BBC 1 ) 4.05—6.20pm. The critics hated it. the kids who went along open- minded loved it. Spielberg's overblown Peter Pan tale has its mawkish moments. but it’s lively and fun ifregarded purely as an entertaining conveyor belt of special effects set pieces. I Wind In The Willows (Scottish) 5.05—6.30pm. Alan Bennett. Michael Palin and Michael Garnbon bring to life Toad. Mole. Ratty. Badger er a! as they get into more irresponsible adventures in Wild Wood. A good tip for keeping the kids quiet while you grab a break, I Persuasion (BBC2) 7—8.40pm. A good year for Jane Austen on TV comes to a close with a peak time repeat of the Screen Two production starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. Two young lovers are forced to break off their engagement due to his relative poverty. but soon social tides turn and it's her fatnily who are on the brink of ruin. I Turtle Diary (Channel 4) 7—8.45pm. The charm of this story about a children's writer (Glenda Jackson) and a shy bookseller (Ben Kingsley) trying to liberate the turtles from London Zoo is checked by that eternal British hurdle of a dialogue-heavy script. I Sister Act (Scottish) 8-9.55pm. Network TV premiere for Whoopi Goldberg‘s infectious hit. She's in top form as a club singer who dons a habit as part of a protection programme after she witnesses a murder; pretty soon. the standard psalms are out the window and there's a bit more soul in the choir's jubilations. I England, My England (Channel 4) 9.05—tnidnight. The latest by director Tony Palmer, a specialist in musical biographies (Shostakovich movie Testimony and the epic Wagner) is a stylised account of the life of Henry Purcell, who died 300 years ago this year. John Osboume‘s screenplay (his last work) stars Simon Callow and jumps from the 20th century back into the past to the time of Neil Gwyn. Dryden and the Great Fire of London. Interesting historical parallels emerge. but crucially it's Purcell's music that is to the forefront.
FILM OF THE DAY
Ill Farewell My Concublne (BBC2) lOpm-12.30am. Chen Kaige's intricately detailed story of two Peking Opera performers and the woman who comes between them sets artistic colour and spectacle against the ever-changing backdrop of 20th century Chinese history. One of the most remarkable international arthouse hits of the 905.
I Indecent Proposal (BBC l)
10. lOpm—midnight. In a not-too-likely scenario. Robert Redford offers Demi Moore a cool million dollars for a night of carnal pleasures. in an even-less-likely twist. she’s reticent as it puts strain on her marriage. Big Hollywood stuff. smothered under director Adrian Lyne’s patent advertising-style gloss.
I Scenes From A Mall (Scottish) “pm—12.35am. One of those rare Woody Allen ﬁlms that he stars in but doesn't write or direct. Instead. it's Paul Mazursky's fault that this dissection of a marriage is so tedious and drawn-out.
I How To Steal A Million (Channel 4) Midnight—2.20am. A classic but disappointing example of the 60s caper movie that they just don't make any more. Audrey Hepburn hires burglar Peter O'Toole to help her father steal a statue from a Paris gallery. not knowing that he’s really an undercover detective.
I A lllght At The Opera (BBC2) l.30—3am. Otis B. Driftwood (the inimitable Groucho Marx) cons rich Mrs Claypool (the equally unrivalled Margaret Dumont) into funding an opera company. and the usual hilarious antics follow.
I Mischief (Scottish) 2.05—3.50am. A nostalgic teen movie set in the SOS. trawling through typical romantic territory. but saved by a likeable cast of unknowns.
I Sentimental Journey (Channel 4) 2.20—4am. lfyou haven’t had enough domestic tear-jerking drama over the opening of the pressies and the turkey on the table. close the day with this extra slice of 40s cheese. A woman with a heart disorder. an unknowing husband. an adopted orphan: it’s got them all.
I Sunday Drive (Scottish) 3.50—5.35am. Another Disney movie ﬂung into the schedule for no apparant reason. Two couples pick up the wrong cars at a motel and end up with the wrong passengers —- respectively. a ZOO-pound dog and two rnischevious children. Look into my eyes. You are feeling sleepy.
I City lights (BBC2) 7.10—8.25am. Chaplin at his best. playing the Little Tramp and tugging the heartstrings for all they’re worth. He falls for a blind ﬂower girl. but hasn't the money to help her; he befriends a millionaire. but his new buddy only recognises him when he’s drunk.
I Marne (BBC2) 8.25—10.30am. Director Gene Saks goes into soft-focus frenzy as he compensates for the fact that star Lucille Ball was well past her sell-by date. In fact. the whole musical routine is pretty sub-standard and not a patch on the stage versions of legend. Strong women. weak ﬁlm.
I Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (BBC l) lO.45am—l?..50pm. Perennial holiday favourite the programmers would stick on whether we liked it or not. Fortunately we do, as a bunch of international stereotypes ﬂy from London to Paris in a wacky air race. I The Snow Queen (Scottish)
10.50am— 12.20pm. Animated version of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. with a British vocal cast featuring Helen Mirren, Hugh Laurie and Rik Mayall.
I The Adventures Of Quentin Durward (BBC2) ll.45am--l.20pm. A rousing version of Walter Scott's novel with the right balance of action. romance and lush sets. and a duelling ﬁnale that takes the biscuit.
I Return Of The Pink Panther (Scottish) 2.05—4.1(lpm. Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau is on the trail of yet another gem thieflCliristopher Plummer) while seriously annoying his boss
I lndiana Jones And The last Crusade (BBCI) 2.10—4.10pm. Spielberg again provides some top-notch clifﬁianger-style action in the third (and best) of the series. This time. Harrison Ford isjoined by daddy Sean Connery who easily steals the ﬁlm
I My Farr Lady (BBCZ) 3.20—6.05pm. A Christmas without this old favourite? Not bloody likely! Rex Harrison is in ﬁne pompous form as Henry Higgins. and even if Audrey Hepbum isn’t perfect as the ﬂower girl he coaches into high society. she's still lovely to watch.
I ller Alibi (Scottish) 4.10—5.50pm. A mystery writer lies to provide an alibi for a foreign beauty he’s enamoured with. but begins to doubt her credibility. Director Bruce Beresford manages to deliver the goods against the odds.
I Beethoven (BBC 1 ) 6.05—7.30pm. Charles Grodin umvillingly lays his home open to the destructive antics of a St Bernard pup which soon grows to less- than-cuddly proportions. An amiable family movie that still tickles the kids at cinema matinees and will bowl them over on the small screen.
I I0 Worries (Channel 4) 6.45-8.30pm. Up against Beet/invert. this intelligent kid movie from Australia will have its work cut out. but it’s deﬁnitely worth more tha a glance. When drought and recession hit her farmland community. Matilda and bet folks move to Sydney where she becomes shy and reclusive. A nicely unsentimentalised account of family bonding that deals sensibly with real issues.
I lies (Channel 4) 9—1 l.05pm. Ken Loach's breakthrough movie has a special place in the hearts of many who have seen it in decades gone by. The surface story. of a boy and his attachment for a kestrel.
is simple enough and surprisingly moving.
FILM OF THE DAY
I ﬂoor or The Pig (BBC2)
lO-l 1.55pm. Overlooked on its short cinema release. this British movie could prove one of the TV ﬁnds of the holidays. A cocky Parisian lawyer lands his ﬁrst case in rural medieval France defending a pig on a dubious murder charge. Dramatically gripping. comically absurd,
I Patriot Games (BBCl) 9.20-1 l.l0pm. Ham'son Ford tries his hand as Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan in a dangerously misguided foray into lRA tenitory (make that IRA splinter group territory. as our American friends want to tread carefully and not alienate an viewers).
I Dead Poets Soc ety (Scottish) ll.lOpm-l.35am. A bunch of young turks led by Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke act their socks off as teacher Robin Williams frees up the imaginations of a group of schoolboys. only to cause ultimate tragedy on account of repressive parents and school rules.
I Clockwise (BBCl) ll.25pm—lam. John Cleese leans a little on his han'assed Basil Fawlty routine as an uptight headmaster faced with a nightmare of obstructions as he tries to get to a conference. A fast- paced farce that nicely unravels the protective. stufﬁly English layers the main character builds around him.
I Faust (BBC2) ll.55pm—l.30am. Jan Svankmajer‘s particular take on the Faust legend combines live action. animation and traditional Czech puppetry to create a modem existentialist study of a man caught up with powers beyond his control. A fresh look at a literary icon. drawing from Marlowe. Gounod. Goethe and Czech folk tales.
I Street With No Name (Channel 4) 1.25—3.05am. Richard Widmark’s hypochondriacal gangster steals the movie. but it's actually meant to be about Mark Stevens's undercover FBI man and what a grand job the good guys are doing to stamp out organised crime. Fortunately. the nuir mood swamps the moralising.
I The Bodysnatcher (BBC2) 1.30—2.40am. A personal favourite. with Boris Karloffin Burke and Hare mode. supplying a l9th century Edinburgh doctor with a never-ending supply of fresh bodies. Robert Wise directs. while producer Val Lewton brings to the production the same eerily atmospheric touches that he did with Cat People.
I Fatal Flaw (Scottish) 2.05—3.45am. Telly Savalas gets out the lollipop for this feature-length Kojak tale in which he comes to the aid of an old ﬂame whose hubby has been knocked off by mobsters. I Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedenteyer Story (Scottish) 3.45—5.30am. Who he? None other than the former American football star who developed Lou Gehrig's disease and went on to become a mute wheelchair-bound coach. Triumph of the human spirit. and all that.
I Modern Times (BBC2) 7. l5-8.45am. The Little Tramp faces up to the Depression and the intricacies of factory machinery in Chaplin’s very physical. but politically lightweight comedy.
I Woman Of The Year (BBC2) 8.45- 10.30am. The ﬁrst Spencer Tracy- Katherine Hepburn pairing has him as a down-to-earth sports journalist and her as a haughty political columnist who get married. but have trouble keeping their working balance out of the domestic household. An intelligent comedy. but no advert for Women‘s Lib.
I Thoroughly Modern Millie (BBCI) 10.30am—12.45pm. Breezy musical that places flapper Julie Andrews in l920s New York with pal Mary Tyler Moore and true love Edward Fox. Good songs. lively pace. fun supporting cast.
I The Story lady (Scottish)
10.30am-12. 10pm. TV movie with Jessica Tandy as a widow who wins a cable slot as a children's storyteller. But her dream sours when the network companies offer her a bigger deal.
I Flash Gordon (Scottish) 3.15-5.l0pm. Flash! Ah-aaah! Saviour of the Universe! A huge intergalactic slab of sci-ﬁ retro as our hero camps it up in his battle against Ming The Merciless. Over-the-top on every level
The List IS Dec 1995-” Jan 199699