Sur­viv­ing the cut

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

IT’S al­most un­heard of for a main­stream film to be banned these days, or even sub­stan­tially cut. Steve Mcqueen’s Shame is one of the few re­cent re­leases to be given an R-clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Bon­nie and Clyde (Sun­day, 11.20pm, Gem), which set new stan­dards of screen vi­o­lence in its day, was lucky to es­cape cen­sor­ship in 1967. The final scenes of car­nage may seem fairly mild now, but Arthur Penn’s lyri­cal out­law saga still packs a hefty punch, and War­ren Beatty and Faye Du­n­away make a won­der­ful pair of fugi­tives. One poster cam­paign — ob­jected to by moral­ists at the time — pro­claimed, They are young, they are in love, they kill peo­ple.’’ Sadly true.

Rocco and His Broth­ers (Mon­day, 10.30pm, SBS Two), Luchino Vis­conti’s vi­o­lent, op­er­atic study of a fam­ily trans­planted from ru­ral Si­cily to the flesh­pots of Mi­lan, was heav­ily cut for US au­di­ences in 1960. In the orig­i­nal film a pros­ti­tute is stabbed to death in a fren­zied at­tack, but the dis­trib­u­tors cut the num­ber of on­screen stab­bings from 13 to three for US re­lease and trimmed more than an hour from the film. Even so, it re­mains a stark and pow­er­ful film in the best Ital­ian re­al­ist tra­di­tion.

Ten­nessee Wil­liams’s fa­mil­iar mix of south­ern gothic sex­ual neu­ro­sis and fa­mil­ial con­flict gets wa­tered-down treat­ment in Richard Brooks’s Sweet Bird of Youth (Satur­day, 1.50am, Gem). Paul New­man plays a small-time hus­tler hop­ing to make it in Hol­ly­wood with the help of a fading movie star (Geral­dine Page). A scene in the play in which New­man’s char­ac­ter is cas­trated was dropped from the film to com­ply with the old Pro­duc­tion Code, along with ref­er­ences to gon­or­rhea. The film is saved by some great per­for­mances, in­clud­ing Ed Be­g­ley’s vil­lain­ous Boss’’ Fin­lay.

Writ­ten and di­rected by Colin Nut­ley, The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls (Sun­day, 11.15pm, SBS One) is an en­gag­ing mys­tery story that be­gins in Eng­land dur­ing World War II. Young Jack Bradley is be­ing evac­u­ated dur­ing the bomb­ing and says good­bye to his mother at the rail­way sta­tion. Soon af­ter­wards he learns she has been killed by a crash­ing plane. So who is this mys­te­ri­ous Nancy (He­lena Bergstrom) who ap­pears eight years later in the Bradley house­hold? It’s a strange film, full of good in­ten­tions and up­lift­ing mo­ments — and none of it, to my knowl­edge, has been censored.

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