EVAN WIL­LIAMS

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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

JOHN Ford con­sid­ered it his mas­ter­piece and, while I would re­spect­fully dis­sent from that opin­ion and award the ti­tle to The Searchers or The Grapes of Wrath , The Fugi­tive ( Tues­day, 1.30am, ABC1) is one of Ford’s finest, a haunt­ing pas­sion play set in a fic­tional coun­try some­where south of the border. It boasts one of Henry Fonda’s great­est per­for­mances as a priest hunted by rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies bent on stamp­ing out Catholi­cism and, pre­sum­ably, World Youth Day. Fonda’s saintly char­ac­ter hides out in a vil­lage and se­cretly per­forms priestly rites, in­clud­ing the bap­tism of a bas­tard child borne by a lo­cal wo­man ( Dolores del Rio). The over­tones are all deeply Catholic ( Gra­ham Greene’s novel, The Power and the Glory , was one of the sources), and in some ways it’s like a Bergman film, full of lofty sym­bol­ism and res­o­nant spir­i­tu­al­ity, beau­ti­fully pho­tographed in black and white by Gabriel Figueroa. Greene also wrote the screen­play of 21 Days ( Thurs­day, 12.30am, ABC1) — how I love th­ese ef­fort­less tran­si­tions! — an adap­ta­tion of a John Galswor­thy play, in which Lau­rence Olivier’s char­ac­ter ac­ci­den­tally kills the es­tranged hus­band of Vivien Leigh’s char­ac­ter and en­dures ag­o­nies of Gree­nean guilt when an in­no­cent per­son is charged with mur­der. The film spent three years on the shelf be­fore its re­lease in 1937, by which time Larry and Viv were man and wife, a happy end­ing if ever there were one. Oth­er­wise there’s not a lot to choose from. The Eye ( Wed­nes­day, 10.30pm, SBS) is an in­trigu­ingly scary film from Hong Kong about a Chi­nese girl, Mun ( An­gel­ica Lee), blind from the age of two, who dis­cov­ers she can see the fu­ture af­ter her sight is re­stored. I re­viewed the Hol­ly­wood re­make with Jes­sica Alba a few weeks ago and can as­sure you the orig­i­nal is more lyri­cal and del­i­cate, its shocks more sub­tly chill­ing. The di­a­logue is in Man­darin, so Kevin Rudd can watch with­out read­ing the sub­ti­tles. SBS view­ers yearn­ing for old episodes of In­spec­tor Rex can try the next best thing: K- 9: P. I. ( Sun­day, 3pm, Ten), a straight- to- video se­quel to K- 9, the James Belushi com­edy about a nar­cotics cop and his ca­nine part­ner, who is, of course, smarter than his han­dler and never touches ham rolls. Shadow of the Vam­pire ( Sun­day, mid­night, Nine, ex­cept South Aus­tralia, Vic­to­ria) is the one in which Willem Dafoe plays Max Schreck, the Ger­man ac­tor who starred as the vam­pire in F. W. Mur­nau’s Nos­fer­atu and who was ( ac­cord­ing to the premise of this strange, of­ten witty, film) a real vam­pire in his spare time. Co­in­ci­dence of the week: Nine is screen­ing two films with Frances O’Con­nor, who ranks, in this col­umn’s opin­ion,

with the blessed Cate Blanchett as one of the more charis­matic Aussie ac­tors to make a name in Hol­ly­wood. She’s a lovely Gwen­dolen in Oliver Parker’s The Im­por­tance of Be­ing Earnest ( Mon­day, noon, Seven, ex­cept Queens­land, Vic­to­ria), a te­diously ec­cen­tric ver­sion of Os­car Wilde’s play, and is eas­ily the best thing go­ing in Be­daz­zled ( Tues­day, noon, Nine, ex­cept Qld), in which a nerdish loser sells his soul to the devil in re­turn for the grant­ing of seven wishes. The film is a re­make of the 1967 orig­i­nal with Peter Cook and Dud­ley Moore. Bren­dan Fraser is the of­fice dead­beat whose wishes are granted: one minute he’s a Colom­bian drug baron, the next he’s a gay Lothario.

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