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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

IT took Hol­ly­wood 18 years to come up with its widescreen ver­sion of the much-loved TV sit­com, and to adapt one of Homer Simp­son’s lines, The Simp­sons Movie (Satur­day, 7pm, Ten) is the fun­ni­est an­i­mated fea­ture in Hol­ly­wood his­tory — pro­vided we ig­nore all the oth­ers. I found it very funny for some of the time and a good deal fun­nier than I expected. The di­rec­tor, David Sil­ver­man, aided by 11 writ­ers, de­liv­ers a bar­rage of non-stop gags, be­gin­ning with the open­ing trade­mark. When Spring­field is pol­luted by the drop­pings of Homer’s pet pig, Pres­i­dent Sch­warzeneg­ger (voiced by Harry Shearer) en­closes the town in a huge glass dome to stop the pol­lu­tion spread­ing. Af­ter much civil dis­or­der and chaos, a nu­clear bomb is dis­patched to wipe out the re­bel­lious towns­folk. Yes, it’s a com­edy: pop re­li­gion, ca­ble TV, junk food and soft-core en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism all come in for some af­fec­tion­ate drub­bing. And watch out for funny signs: Thou shalt turn off thy cell­phone’’ (out­side a church). D’oh.

When Come Back, Lit­tle Sheba (Satur­day, 10.10pm, ABC2) was re­leased in 1952 it was like noth­ing Hol­ly­wood au­di­ences had seen be­fore — a re­lent­lessly re­al­is­tic study of mar­i­tal mis­ery, based on a play by Wil­liam Inge. But Para­mount, con­fi­dent that the film was some­thing spe­cial, re­leased it around Christ­mas to qual­ify for the Academy Awards, and no one was sur­prised when Shirley Booth, play­ing the frumpy wife Lola, won the best ac­tress Os­car — beat­ing Joan Craw­ford, Julie Har­ris, Bette Davis and Su­san Hay­ward. Booth’s bril­liant per­for­mance is matched by fine work from Burt Lan­caster as Lola’s booz­ing hus­band. Di­rected by Daniel Mann, the film is a ne­glected mas­ter­piece — an un­for­get­tably poignant study of lives of quiet des­per­a­tion.

Lan­caster fol­lowed it with an­other clas­sic, Sweet Smell of Suc­cess (Fri­day, 2pm, 7Two), set in a world of ur­ban sleaze and show­biz cor­rup­tion, and di­rected by an English­man, Alexan­der Mack­endrick, best known for his quirky Eal­ing come­dies. Shot in glis­ten­ing black and white, it of­fers a stark por­trait of Man­hat­tan’s neon-lit night life, with Tony Cur­tis as a ve­nal PR agent and Lan­caster in one of his best roles as a com­pro­mised news­pa­per colum­nist, J. J. Hun­secker. Black­mail, vi­cious cops, dirty tricks, sex­ual ob­ses­sion — the film has it all, along with a breezy jazz score by Elmer Bern­stein.

Down­fall (Sun­day, 11.10pm, SBS One) is Oliver Hirsch­biegel’s ac­count of Hitler’s last days in his Ber­lin bunker, sur­rounded by his doomed hench­men and the pa­thetic Eva Braun (Ju­liane Kohler). Bruno Ganz’s Fuhrer is a rant­ing mega­lo­ma­niac, con­temp­tu­ous of his fel­low­coun­try­men and de­void of feel­ing even for his last, loyal sup­port­ers. This is doc­u­men­tary­drama of the high­est or­der — ghastly and com­pelling.

(M) ★★★★ Satur­day, 10.10pm, ABC2

(M) ★★★★★ Fri­day, 2pm, 7Two

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 11.10pm, SBS One

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