WITH Hollywood more than ever obsessed with monsters, superheroes and flatulent spectacle, You Can Count on Me (Friday, 9.30am, Showtime Drama) comes as a precious reminder that the best films don’t have to be violent and noisy. This low-budget US feature, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, credits Martin Scorsese as executive producer, and there are reminders of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Scorsese’s 1974 film about a lonely mother, played by Ellen Burstyn. This time the single mum, Sam, is played beautifully by Laura Linney, who is bringing up eight-year-old Rudy (Rory Culkin) in the absence of Rudy Sr.
Lives are changed when Sam’s brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) arrives on the scene — broke, useless, and keen to sponge on his sister. Lonergan’s film is about the bond between brothers and sisters, the need for love and the need for freedom, and the need of boys — especially boys — for fathers and male role models, even those whose influence isn’t always for the best. You Can Count on Me is a joy, a revelation, and I guarantee you will be thinking of it for days afterwards.
Vertigo was a worthy winner of the recent Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films, though some would argue that Rear Window and The Birds were better examples of Alfred Hitchcock in his prime. Rebecca (Saturday, 7.30pm, Fox Classics), Hitch’s first Hollywood film, and a prestige project for producer David O. Selznick after his triumph with Gone with the Wind, certainly beat Vertigo at the box office.
This is Hitchcock without a trace of horror or violence, but with oodles of spookiness and suspense. Joan Fontaine is the shy, second wife of the urbane Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), who is haunted by memories of Rebecca, the first Mrs de Winter, whom we never see. Adapted from a Daphne du Maurier novel, it remains one of my all-time favourite films, with Judith Anderson and George Sanders memorable in sinister roles. Its great box-office rival a year earlier was Goodbye, Mr Chips (Tuesday, 8.30pm, TCM), with a poignant performance by Robert Donat as the retiring schoolmaster beloved by generations of boys. Donat beat Clark Gable (star of Gone with the Wind) for best actor Oscar in 1939.
After a string of more ambitious films, Woody Allen returned to simple, homespun territory in Broadway Danny Rose (Wednesday, 7pm, Movie Greats), a charming comedy shot in his beloved black-and-white and set in his beloved Manhattan. Woody appears as the titular Danny, a theatrical agent who specialises in bizarre and outlandish acts — one-legged tap-dancers, washed-up lounge singers — that no other agent will handle. Plenty of verbal gags, with much nonsense involving mobsters, love triangles. cheating husbands and mistaken identities.
(M) ★★★★✩ Friday, 9.30am, Showtime Drama
(M) ★★★★✩ Wednesday, 7pm, Movie Greats
(PG) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 7.30pm, Fox Classics