The turkey might be on its last legs after Christmas Day – and you might be too – but there’s still nearly another week of the holiday to go, and at least one film worth seeing on the TV each and every day. Part two of The Coops Review Christmas Preview starts on Friday, 27 December and runs up to and including New Year’s Day.
The themes from the first half of the holiday are still there – Disney cartoons and classics – although they’re spread a little more thinly, especially in those in-between days from the 27th to 30th. But there’s still plenty of quality lurking.
Friday, 27 December – Monday, 30 December
Westerns are noticeable by their absence this Christmas, but How The West Was Won (Friday, BBC2, 2.50 pm) helps to make up for that with its all-star cast in a family saga that covers the Gold Rush, Civil War and the birth of the railroads. And the stars didn’t come much bigger than the likes of John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck.
Friday evening takes us into Stephen King country, but not with a horror story. The Shawshank Redemption (ITV2, 9pm) is based on one of his novellas and is among most people’s top films. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are both excellent as two lifers who help each other through years in prison and eventually find freedom.
It’s back to cartoons on Saturday. BBC1 continues its monopoly of Disney movies, this time with the delightful Up (BBC1, 6.50 pm), with Ed Asner as the voice of the elderly Carl, who fulfils his dream to go to South America – thanks to an awful lot of balloons. Make sure you’re sat in front of the telly for the start, as the dialogue-free summary of the old man’s life is beautifully done.
Sunday’s best offering is Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine (Channel 5, 11.05 pm) with Pauline Collins as the eponymous wife escaping the drudgery of her marriage to discover herself – and sex – in the Greek Islands.
And on Monday, it’s back to Disney on BBC1, this time with Wall-E (2.45 pm), the touching tale of a waste collecting robot who embarks on a space journey that ultimately will decide the fate of mankind. Loveable little Wall-E and the other robots do all the work, while the humans are simply fat and lazy. Kids will like it, but adults will totally love it.
New Year’s Eve
Classic British comedy rears its head as the New Year approaches, firstly in the shape of the original version of The Ladykillers (Film4, 1.10 pm), the sublime black comedy about a bungling set of armed robbers foiled by a little old lady. With a cast that boasts Alec Guinness (complete with hideous teeth), Peter Sellers and the immaculate Katie Johnson as Mrs Wilberforce, it’s definitely one of the best things to come out of Ealing.
As is Kind Hearts and Coronets (BBC4, 8 pm), with Alec Guinness again, this time playing all eight members of the aristocratic D’Ascoyne family – including Lady Edith – who an impoverished distant relative (Dennis Price) decides to kill off, one by one. “I shot an arrow in the air. She fell to earth in Berkeley Square.”
And if you’re looking to see in the New Year in the bosom of the family, then it doesn’t get much better than the back-to-back pairing of The Godfather (New Year’s Eve, Film4, 9 pm) and The Godfather Part II (Film4, 12.20 pm). A rare example of the sequel being at least as good, if not better, than the original, this resurrected the career of Marlon Brando and made a star of Al Pacino.
New Year’s Day
What? No Disney on BBC1 to start the New Year? Apparently not, but there’s the next best thing – Who Framed Roger Rabbit (10.20 am) – which mixes live action with animated characters for a fast and funny gangster parody. Bob Hoskins has great fun as the detective who hates toons, but is Roger Rabbit’s only chance when it comes to proving he didn’t commit a murder.
For a touch of all-human romance, head for Breakfast At Tiffany’s (More4, 10 am). At that time of day, it’s more like Brunch At Tiffany’s but the film is still full of charm and wit. Audrey Hepburn was never more appealing – and watch out for the cat!
And if you think the holiday has been short on frights, sit down in a darkened room in front of Alien (Channel Four, 12.20 am) and scare yourself witless. Ridley Scott’s terrifying space horror still has the power to make you jump out of your skin, no matter how many times you’ve seen the alien burst out of John Hurt’s stomach.
Inevitably a dud or two will find its way onto the schedules. I’ve deliberately avoided the dross that’s a regular occurrence on Channel 5 and its relatives during the afternoon – enough turkeys there to stock a supermarket in the run-up to Christmas.
So for a Grade A bird pumped up with water, look no further than James Cameron’s overblown Titanic (29 December, Film4, 5.25 pm). The best bit is when the ship goes down – anything to escape the contrived plot and ropey dialogue. I’d take A Night To Remember any day, but unfortunately it’s not on this Christmas.
By the time you’ve seen some, if not all, of these films, you’ll be well and truly into 2014, which looks like being an excellent year at the cinema. I’ll keep you up to date on the latest releases, awards and news on The Coops Review and on my radio show, Talking Pictures, which goes out every Thursday at 10 pm on Turquoise Radio (www.turquoiseradio.com).
In the meantime, here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas, a happy New Year and the very best in films, whenever, wherever and however you watch them.