The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

NEAR the gates of the Botanic Gar­dens in Syd­ney is a bronze plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing some of the least re­mem­bered heroes of World War I — not peo­ple, but horses. Many thou­sands of horses were shipped to the bat­tle­fields from Aus­tralia, and none re­turned — ei­ther killed in the slaugh­ter or too badly wounded or trau­ma­tised to be brought home. In War Horse (Mon­day, 6pm, M Pre­miere), Steven Spiel­berg fol­lows the for­tunes of a horse called Joey, raised on a farm in Devon and sold to a Bri­tish of­fi­cer for ser­vice in France. Al­bert (Jeremy Irvine), the young farm lad who has reared and loved the horse, even­tu­ally goes to France him­self. Lovers of horse films will rank it with Se­abis­cuit, Phar Lap and National Velvet.

There have been three great on-screen im­per­son­ations in re­cent films, all box-of­fice suc­cesses — Daniel Day-Lewis in Spiel­berg’s Lin­coln, Meryl Streep’s Mar­garet Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and Michelle Wil­liams’s Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe in My Week with Mar­i­lyn (Sun­day, 6.45pm, M Mas­ter­piece). Based on two books by Colin Clark, Si­mon Cur­tis’s film de­picts the mak­ing of the 1957 film The Prince and Show­girl, in which Mon­roe starred with Lau­rence Olivier (played by Ken­neth Branagh), and de­scribes a week she spent in Clark’s com­pany vis­it­ing the sights of Lon­don. With its wryly ob­served ac­count of what was (pre­sum­ably) an un­con­sum­mated love af­fair, the film plumbs no great psy­cho­log­i­cal depths but is brought off with sub­tlety, hu­mour and charm. Speak­ing of great screen im­per­son­ations, I should add Faye Du­n­away’s sen­sa­tional Joan Craw­ford in Mom­mie Dear­est (Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece), based on the mem­oirs of Christina Craw­ford, one of Joan’s two adopted chil­dren, who ap­par­ently en­dured a hor­ren­dous up­bring­ing in a house­hold where Mom­mie dear­est’’ was the oblig­a­tory form of ad­dress when speak­ing to Joan. It’s a hor­rific por­trait of a so­ciopath and nar­cis­sist whose most fa­mous in­junc­tion (‘‘Never give me wire coathang­ers’’) has be­come part of camp folk­lore.

I watched Now, Voy­ager (Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Classics) again the other night on DVD and rel­ished ev­ery minute of its soapy charm. The idea of the timid, parentally op­pressed heroine who blos­soms into ra­di­ant wom­an­hood un­der the in­flu­ence of love is a favourite Hol­ly­wood theme (see The Heiress), and Bette Davis is su­perb as Char­lotte Vale, daugh­ter of an up­per­crust Bos­ton fam­ily who de­fies her dom­i­neer­ing mother (Gla­dys Cooper) to make a life of her own. Those were the days when smok­ing was not only per­mis­si­ble but an es­sen­tial erotic in­gre­di­ent in movie love af­fairs, and there’s a fa­mous scene when Paul Hen­reid lights two cig­a­rettes at once and gives one to Davis. The ges­ture was con­sid­ered such a sexy touch, it was re­peated twice — once in the fi­nal scene.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 6.45pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(M) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(PG) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Classics

War Horse

Jeremy Irvine in the mov­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.