The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

IN a re­cent cover story, Time mag­a­zine rated Daniel Day-Lewis the best ac­tor in the world — a view ap­par­ently shared by Steven Spiel­berg, who di­rected him in Lin­coln. Though never a su­per­star or a house­hold name, Day-Lewis has ap­peared in more first-rate films than any liv­ing ac­tor I can think of, in­clud­ing some of the great­est — A Room with a View, Gandhi, The Cru­cible, The Age of In­no­cence, There Will be Blood. In 1989 he won a best ac­tor Os­car for My Left Foot (Tues­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics), Jim Sheri­dan’s film based on the best­selling au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Christy Brown, the Ir­ish-born artist and au­thor crip­pled from birth by cere­bral palsy. (The film’s ti­tle refers to the only limb over which Brown had any con­trol; it was cru­cial to his abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate.) Day-Lewis is heartrend­ingly good as the adult Christy, the ninth of 13 sur­viv­ing chil­dren in a work­ing-class Ir­ish Catholic fam­ily. Charged with wit and un­self­con­scious hu­mour, this in­tensely mov­ing film never be­comes maudlin or de­press­ing.

Talk­ing of best ac­tors, Day-Lewis’s clos­est ri­val would have to be Robert De Niro, now ap­pear­ing in Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook. His work with Martin Scors­ese across sev­eral decades, one of the most fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tions in cin­ema his­tory, has yielded mas­ter­pieces such as Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Good­fel­las and Rag­ing Bull. In The King of Com­edy (Thurs­day, 6.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance) the two tried some­thing dif­fer­ent, with De Niro play­ing a plau­si­ble crack­pot and con man called Ru­pert Pup­kin who fan­cies him­self the world’s great­est comic ac­tor. Pup­kin models him­self on his hero, a fun­ny­man talk-show host called Jerry Lang­ford (Jerry Lewis), and in­gra­ti­ates him­self (tem­po­rar­ily) into Lang­ford’s good books. Play­ing the creepy, de­mented, pa­thetic Pup­kin was a com­plete char­ac­ter re­ver­sal for De Niro, who brought it off beau­ti­fully. A flop on its re­lease in 1983, this chill­ing black com­edy is now a clas­sic.

It an­noyed me that the An­thony Hop­kins film Hitch­cock con­trives to give the im­pres­sion that the main rea­son Hitch made Psy­cho was to counter the poor per­for­mances of Ver­tigo and North by North­west. It’s true that Ver­tigo had mixed re­ac­tions on its re­lease and flopped at the box of­fice, but North by North­west (Tues­day, 8.30pm, TCM) was a huge hit — one of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s most fa­mous and suc­cess­ful films, the quintessen­tial blend of thrills, sus­pense, mys­tery, ro­mance and black hu­mour, with Cary Grant in an ar­che­typal role as a Madi­son Av­enue ad­ver­tis­ing man caught up in an in­ter­na­tional plot. Gorgeously en­ter­tain­ing and a much lighter work than Spell­bound (Satur­day, 11.50pm, Fox Clas­sics), Hitch’s dark psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller with Gre­gory Peck and In­grid Bergman, which is fa­mous for a two-minute dream se­quence de­signed by Sal­vador Dali. See them both.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★★✩ Tues­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics

(M) ★★★★✩ Thurs­day, 6.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance

(PG) ★★★★★ Tues­day, 8.30pm, TCM

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