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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

TWO key films of Mar­lon Brando’s ca­reer can be seen this Satur­day. The Men (8.30pm, ABC2) was his film de­but, a wrench­ing study of a World War II vet­eran left paral­ysed by a sniper’s bul­let. The pro­ducer was Stan­ley Kramer, who had al­ready given us two pow­er­ful mes­sage-based dra­mas in Cham­pion and Home of the Brave; and the di­rec­tor was the great Fred Zin­ne­mann, who han­dles his po­ten­tially mawk­ish ma­te­rial with tact and dis­cre­tion. Brando’s char­ac­ter, Ken, is an­gry and re­sent­ful, re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with doc­tors and nurses and spurn­ing the lov­ing at­ten­tions of his girl­friend (Teresa Wright). Even­tu­ally, with the sup­port of a com­mit­ted doc­tor (Everett Sloane), she breaks through Ken’s bit­ter­ness and re­serve. It’s said Brando moved into a 32-bed ward with real para­plegics to ob­serve their suf­fer­ing and study their at­ti­tudes. The re­sults are un­for­get­table. The Wild One (Satur­day, 9.55pm, ABC2) ap­peared three years later, in 1953, and was in many ways his sig­na­ture film. His per­for­mance as the leader of a bikie gang that ter­rorises a small mid­west­ern town es­tab­lished him as one of Hol­ly­wood’s most charis­matic an­ti­heroes and a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to James Dean. Tautly di­rected by Las­zlo Benedek (and also pro­duced by Kramer), the film was in­spired by an in­ci­dent in 1947 when a 4000-strong bikie gang took over Hol­lis­ter, Cal­i­for­nia, on the July 4th week­end. Spare, tough and fright­en­ing.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sun­day, 11.55pm, ABC1) may be the de­fin­i­tive spaghetti western, di­rected in 1966 by Sergio Leone and of­fer­ing a bru­tal panorama of life in the Amer­i­can west dur­ing the Civil War. The good guy is Clint East­wood, the bad guy is Lee Van Cleef and the ugly one, pre­sum­ably, is Eli Wal­lach — three drifters in search of a for­tune. A many-lay­ered epic, it is Leone’s most vi­o­lent — and com­pas­sion­ate — film. In one haunt­ing scene Union troops or­gan­ise a mu­si­cal per­for­mance by Con­fed­er­ate pris­oner-mu­si­cians to cover the sound of Van Cleef tor­tur­ing his cap­tives. En­nio Mor­ri­cone sup­plied one of his finest scores.

The Beat that My Heart Skipped (Wed­nes­day, 11pm, SBS One) is a French thriller di­rected by Jac­ques Au­di­ard and a re­make of cult film Fin­gers (1978). Its hero is Tom (Ro­main Duris), a trou­bled young man with shady con­nec­tions whose se­cret am­bi­tion is to fol­low in his mother’s foot­steps and be­come a concert pi­anist. The pi­ano is his ob­ses­sion. He en­gages a mu­sic teacher (Linh Dan Pham), un­der whose su­per­vi­sion his play­ing grows in strength. The sep­a­rate strands of the story are brought to­gether in a sear­ing drama, trap­ping Tom in its hor­ri­fy­ing coils. There are no cheap shocks, vi­o­lence be­ing more of­ten sug­gested than shown, and the fi­nal scenes are greatly mov­ing. ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 11.55pm, ABC1

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC2 ★★★ ✩ Wed­nes­day, 11pm, SBS One

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