FREE- TO- AIR FILMS
IT’S 70 years since Orson Welles made his famous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds , causing panic in the US and inspiring endless silly movies about alien invasions. Is there is a contemporary equivalent of Welles, the genius filmmaker who made Citizen Kane and ended his career doing commercials for photocopiers? Another celebrated Welles enterprise was his staging ( with John Houseman) of The Cradle Will Rock , Marc Blitzstein’s 1930s musical about a US steel strike, a project resisted by the business establishment and New York city authorities, who feared Nazi agitation. Tim Robbins’s film Cradle Will Rock ( Saturday, midnight, Seven) captures much of the political and artistic fervour of those days, a time when John D. Rockefeller was forming an unlikely alliance with the Mexican revolutionary painter Diego Rivera and an Italian diplomat was selling Da Vincis to rich New Yorkers to raise money for Mussolini. The ensemble cast is fabulous: Emily Watson, John Turturro, Susan Sarandon, John Cusack, Vanessa Redgrave and Bill Murray. In 1948 Welles made his neglected film Macbeth ( Tuesday, 12.35am, ABC), reputedly shot in 23 days on a cheap Western backlot at Republic. I love the ABC synopsis: ‘‘ Moved by his own ambition and that of his unscrupulous wife, Macbeth murders Duncan, the king of Scotland, and takes his crown.’’ Jeanette Nolan isn’t much as the unscrupulous wife, but Welles is in fine form and John L. Russell’s icy black and white camerawork ( he was Hitchcock’s cinematographer on Psycho ) creates a nightmarish world of lustful intrigue and supernatural skulduggery. Overshadowed by Olivier’s Hamlet , made in the same year, Macbeth was followed by Welles’s other great Shakespeare films, Othello and Chimes at Midnight . Bride & Prejudice ( Saturday, 9.25pm, Nine) is Gurinder Chadha’s surprisingly likable Bollywood musical version of Jane Austen. I showed a DVD of it for my granddaughter’s 12th birthday party, after which the girls thanked me politely and said how much they enjoyed it, despite the Bollywood restriction on lip kisses. But plenty of gaudy visuals and the expected tensions between an arrogant bachelor ( Martin Henderson) and his bride- to- be ( Aishwarya Rai). In Gigi ( Saturday, 1.30pm, Nine), Lerner
and Loewe did their best to repeat the success of and almost succeeded, with the help of Leslie Caron’s courtesan- intraining, Cecil Beaton’s gorgeous designs and Maurice Chevalier’s leering number about the charms of leedle girls ( which the NSW vice squad should look at before more damage is done). And here’s an interesting one:
( Wednesday, 12.25am, ABC), directed by the playwright George F. Kaufman ( who co- wrote the Marx Brothers classic ). Dick Powell is the presidential candidate whose lost diary contains all sorts of scandalous detail, some of it supported by stat decs kept in Myrna Loy’s freezer. Very funny ( the film).
My Fair Lady
Senator was Indiscreet
A Night at the Opera