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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Lik­able Amer­i­can ac­tor Dean Jones, who died a fort­night or so ago, is re­called by those of a cer­tain age as the gan­gly, grin­ning star of a se­ries of 10 live-ac­tion Walt Dis­ney movies in the 1960s and 70s. The first, and ar­guably best, of those is the 1965 com­edy thriller That Darn Cat! (Satur­day, 12.05pm, Dis­ney Movies).

Jones plays an FBI agent as­signed to fol­low the ti­tle fe­line to solve a bank rob­bery and kid­nap­ping. Noth­ing else re­ally looks or sounds like a 60s Dis­ney live-ac­tion film: ev­ery­one is clean, pros­per­ous, non-threat­en­ing and more than a lit­tle goofy. Skilled char­ac­ter co-stars in­clude Frank Gor­shin, Elsa Lanchester, Wil­liam De­marest and Ed Wynn. Jones went on to star in the even more pop­u­lar The Love Bug be­fore be­com­ing a born-again Chris­tian in the early 70s. He had cameos in the 1997 re­makes of both films.

Thir­teen years later, Amer­i­can screen com­edy had taken a sharp left turn in the form of the rau­cous and im­mensely suc­cess­ful Na­tional Lam­poon’s An­i­mal House (Tues­day, 6.35pm, Com­edy Movies). The saga of a rogue col­lege fra­ter­nity and their off-colour mis­ad­ven­tures, the film was a prov­ing ground of fu­ture tal­ent, costar­ring John Belushi, Kevin Ba­con and Peter Riegert. (Di­rec­tor John Lan­dis and co-pro­ducer Ivan Reit­man had sub­stan­tial ca­reers as well.)

Dur­ing his long and sto­ried ca­reer, ac­tor Richard Gere has starred in many mem­o­rable films. A par­tic­u­larly good year for him was 1990, with Pretty Woman open­ing in March and be­com­ing a smash hit. Yet some movie trag­ics don’t even think that was his best film of the year: they pre­fer di­rec­tor Mike Figgis’s Jan­uary re­lease, the propul­sive crime thriller, set in Los An­ge­les, In­ter­nal Af­fairs (Thurs­day, 6.30pm, Thriller).

Gere stars as the cor­rupt and prob­a­bly so­cio­pathic po­lice pa­trol of­fi­cer Dennis Peck, who butts heads with Andy Gar­cia as the ad­min­is­tra­tor in­ves­ti­gat­ing his mis­deeds. Gere has rarely been as glee­fully cold-blooded in a role, and Figgis proves adept at genre pac­ing and at­mos­phere.

It was called Duck, You Sucker in the US and Once Upon a Time … The Revo­lu­tion in some ter­ri­to­ries, but un­der any ti­tle one of Ital­ian di­rec­tor Ser­gio Leone’s most un­justly ne­glected films — and the last western he’d make — is the rous­ing and ac­tion-packed 1971 ad­ven­ture A Fist­ful of Dy­na­mite (Tues­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics).

Rod Steiger and James Coburn, both of them never bet­ter, play a Mex­i­can ban­dit and Ir­ish ex­plo­sives ex­pert, re­spec­tively, who team up to play havoc with the Mex­i­can Revo­lu­tion. Leone con­sid­ered this the sec­ond part of a tril­ogy that be­gan with Once Upon a Time in the West and con­cluded with Once Upon a Time in Amer­ica.

Co­me­dian John Belushi stars in Na­tional Lam­poon’s An­i­mal House

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