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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

NO one makes westerns any more — not the oldfashioned sort, with the em­pha­sis on ac­tion and shootouts. The clas­sic Hol­ly­wood western reached a high point with The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven, af­ter which the anti-western was born – unglam­orous, un­heroic and a typ­i­cal prod­uct of the 1960s, which gave us The Mis­fits and Lonely are the Brave. The best anti-western was Hud (Sun­day, 11.50pm, ABC1), with Paul New­man as a lazy, avari­cious and ir­re­spon­si­ble ne’er-do-well who prefers the life of a Texas play­boy to that of a hard­work­ing Texas rancher. Martin Ritt’s film broke new ground in de­mythol­o­gis­ing the western tra­di­tions of hero­ism and pi­o­neer­ing for­ti­tude. Elmer Bern­stein wrote the score (he did the same for The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven) and there are fine per­for­mances from Patricia Neal and Melvyn Dou­glas as Hud’s es­tranged fa­ther. But it’s New­man’s film. The cinema’s most charis­matic new­comer since James Dean never looked more unattrac­tive and con­temptible. Quite an achieve­ment.

Speak­ing of dis­so­lute play­boys, I cite the case of Arthur Bach, played by Dud­ley Moore in Steve Gor­don’s com­edy Arthur (Sun­day, 1pm, Nine), a cult hit in 1981. Arthur is set to marry his so­cialite fi­ancee (Jill Eiken­berry) but falls for work­ing girl Linda (a sparkling per­for­mance from Liza Min­nelli). It’s a nice piece of es­capist froth, helped along by some Burt Bacharach tunes, but the show-stealer is John Giel­gud, hap­pily slum­ming it as Arthur’s loyal but sar­cas­tic manser­vant, for which he won an Os­car. Giel­gud’s il­lus­tri­ous con­tem­po­rary on the English stage, Lau­rence Olivier, plays the sadis­tic den­tist in Marathon Man (Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC2), John Sch­lesinger’s bril­liant, har­row­ing thriller about ex-Nazis search­ing for loot stolen from Jewish con­cen­tra­tion camp vic­tims. Olivier de­liv­ers a ter­ri­fy­ing per­for­mance as Szell, the Nazi pseudo-den­tist who tor­tures Dustin Hoffman. In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Olivier de­scribed Marathon Man as a re­viv­i­fy­ing’’ ex­pe­ri­ence, the be­gin­ning of his come­back af­ter a de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­ness, but had noth­ing to say about his char­ac­ter or why play­ing a sadis­tic tor­turer should have lifted his spir­its.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Tues­day, 12.20am, ABC1) is a clas­sic prod­uct of the writer-di­rec­tor part­ner­ship of Michael Pow­ell and Emeric Press­burger. This wise and hu­mane film is the story of Clive Candy (Roger Livesey), a stuffy British of­fi­cer, and the women in his life (all played by Deb­o­rah Kerr). Win­ston Churchill con­sid­ered it detri­men­tal to the morale of the army’’ and pro­hib­ited its ex­por­ta­tion dur­ing World War II. But he couldn’t ban it in Bri­tain, where it be­came a hit dur­ing the war. Heav­ily cut for its even­tual re­lease in the US (and Aus­tralia), it was re­stored by Bri­tain’s Na­tional Film Ar­chive and re-re­leased in 1986. A mas­ter­piece. ★★★★★ Tues­day, 12.20am, ABC1

(M) ★★★ ✩ Sun­day, 11.50pm, ABC1

Best on show

(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC2

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