STEVEN Spielberg is not only Hollywood’s most successful living filmmaker, he is also the most prolific, with 36 films to his name since 1971 (as producer or director). Their total box-office earnings have been reckoned at more than $8 billion. The past two years have seen Lincoln, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, all of which he directed, and Jurassic Park IVis just around the corner. The Adventures of Tintin (Monday, 8.10pm, M Family), based on the comic-book character created by Belgian artist Herge, had grossed nearly $400 million the last time I checked. Jamie Bell provides the voice for the intrepid boy reporter in a swashbuckling yarn involving pirates and sunken treasure. And in a Hollywood saturated with violent action films laced with crude language, Tintin will be welcomed by many parents as a model for teenage boys. He’s a courteous, courageous, quick-witted, kind-hearted lad, whose favourite expletive is great snakes!’’
Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita was filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1961 — Hollywood’s first take on paedophilia, with a beautifully subdued and touching performance from James Mason as Humbert Humbert, the literature professor infatuated with his under-age nymphet, Lo. If paedophilia was a sensitive subject 50 years ago, it ranks now almost as a national obsession, which makes Adrian Lyne’s 1997 Lolita (Tuesday, 2.55pm, World Movies) a topical piece of programming to say the least. But sensitive audiences should have little to complain about. Lyne is more interested in Humbert’s moral wretchedness and confusion than he is in the titillating possibilities of the story; body doubles were used for certain shots, and what might be called the erotic scenes are discreet to the point of banality. But Jeremy Irons gives one of the great performances of his career as Humbert, and there is fine support from Dominique Swain as Lo and Melanie Griffith as her sex-hungry mother. It’s a sad and moving film, and one can’t help wondering what Roman Polanski would have made of it.
I’ve always rated Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s bitter, bitchy, bitingly witty script for All About Eve (Saturday, 7.30pm, Fox Classics) the best screenplay written for a Hollywood film. It’s the consummate expose of backstage Broadway — the egos, rivalries and temperamental conspiracies of the theatre world (at least as we like to imagine them). Bette Davis gives her legendary performance as Margo Channing, the fading Broadway star who sees her career and marriage threatened by ambitious young newcomer Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). George Sanders is the poisonous theatre critic and there are fine small roles for Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holm, with Marilyn Monroe making her first screen appearance as a dreamy starlet. All About Eve won six Oscars.
(PG) ★★★★★ Saturday, 7.30pm, Fox Classics
(M) ★★★ ✩ Tuesday, 2.55pm, World Movies
(PG) ★★★✩✩ Monday, 8.10pm, M Family
Anne Baxter, left, and Bette Davis in the bitchy and bitingly witty