The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - EVAN WIL­LIAMS

IT’S time I gave more credit to the ABC for those wor­thy Bri­tish pic­tures they show in the mid­dle of the night. Oliver Twist ( Mon­day, 1.25am) is one of David Lean’s two great Dick­ens adap­ta­tions, but the in­ter­est­ing one to stay up for is Vic­tim ( Wed­nes­day, 12.45am), the first Bri­tish film to plead for tol­er­ance on be­half of ho­mo­sex­ual men.

That was brave film­mak­ing in 1961. Ho­mo­sex­ual acts were il­le­gal in Bri­tain and most known cases of black­mail tar­geted gay men try­ing to stay in the closet. In Basil Dear­den’s film, Dirk Bog­a­rde plays a young bar­ris­ter at the height of his ca­reer who dis­cov­ers that his for­mer ( male) lover, a wanted crim­i­nal, has been black­mailed.

‘‘ What I think we want to say,’’ wrote pro­ducer Michael Relph, in lan­guage we wouldn’t use to­day, ‘‘ is that the ho­mo­sex­ual, though sub­ject to a psy­cho­log­i­cal or glan­du­lar vari­a­tion from sex­ual nor­mal­ity, is a hu­man be­ing sub­ject to all the emo­tions of other hu­man be­ings, and as de­serv­ing of our un­der­stand­ing. It is wrong for the law to pil­lory him be­cause of his in­ver­sion.’’

Bri­tain’s chief cen­sor John Trevelyan was re­luc­tantly per­suaded to agree, de­spite tak­ing is­sue with 13 spe­cific scenes and a gen­eral im­pres­sion, as he saw it, that ‘‘ the world is largely peo­pled by queers’’. ( Vic­tim was re­fused the seal of the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion in the US.) Ac­cord­ing to Bog­a­rde’s bi­og­ra­pher John Cold­stream, those passed over for the lead role in­cluded James Ma­son and Ste­wart Granger, with one con­tender, Jack Hawkins, turn­ing down the part on the grounds that it could ‘‘ prej­u­dice his chances of a knight­hood’’.

In Dear­den’s hands the story is treated as a mix of in­ves­tiga­tive thriller and mar­i­tal drama, and re­mains one of the most pow­er­ful treat­ments of a con­tem­po­rary so­cial is­sue.

In Res­i­dent Evil ( Sun­day, 11.30pm, Seven), a virus has es­caped from a se­cret fa­cil­ity called the Hive and turned all the re­searchers into flesh- hun­gry zom­bies. It sounds like an­other ver­sion of Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later .

Wicker Park ( Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Seven), in which a young busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive for­gets about his forth­com­ing mar­riage and goes in search of the wo­man who was once the ob­ject of his ob­ses­sions, is a re­make of Gilles Mi­mouni’s 1996 French mys­tery, L’Ap­parte­ment . But you can take it from me that the Steve Martin com­edy Cheaper by the Dozen ( Fri­day, 8.30pm, Seven) is a dumb re­make of the 1950 Clifton Webb clas­sic, and best avoided.

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