to air Seduction in concert
MAX Ophuls made Letter from an Unknown Woman (Saturday, 10.15pm, ABC2) during a postwar sojourn in Hollywood, and it sounds like the purest soap. Lisa (Joan Fontaine) falls for a concert pianist (Louis Jourdan), who heads off on a tour and promptly forgets about her. She marries another guy when she discovers she’s pregnant with Stefan’s child, then the rotter turns up and, still not knowing who she is, starts seducing her all over again. In Ryan’s Daughter (Saturday, 1.20am, Gem), Sarah Miles finds herself in a loveless marriage with Robert Mitchum before falling for a shell-shocked British officer during World War I. Ophuls’s film, full of sweet, lyrical sadness, is considered his greatest American work; Ryan’s Daughter is slow, self-indulgent, more than three hours long, and by common consent the least successful of David Lean’s epics. Of course you could watch them both.
What Lies Beneath (Late Saturday, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, Ten) is an above-average ghost story starring Harrison Ford , married to Michelle Pfeiffer. Clark Gregg’s screenplay sets the story in an idyllic lakeside house in an idyllic location, which means that less than idyllic events are in store for Pfeiffer during her husband’s absence.
See The Barbarian Invasions (Tuesday, 11.20pm, SBS2), a French-Canadian film from director Denys Arcand, who brings together characters from his 1986 film The Decline of the American Empire. It’s as miserable as sin but beautifully acted and finally very moving. And speaking of Shakespeare films (see opposite, thank you), I should mention one of the best of them all: Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (Monday, 10.30pm, SBS Two), an adaptation of King Lear set in 16th-century Japan. Tatsuya Nakadai plays the ageing warlord dividing his kingdom between his three sons. It’s visually stunning.