The Herald on Sunday
MONDAY Face/Off (1997) (ITV4, 11pm)
The traditional good guy-versus-bad guy plot is given a novel twist with John Travolta as an FBI agent and Nicolas Cage as a super-terrorist who literally swap faces and identities. The cop is left languishing in prison while the crook makes the most of his new life as an upstanding family man. Director John Woo’s action thriller may lose something on the small screen, but the stunts and pacing are still breathtaking whatever you watch it on. Admittedly, the prison section is a bit tiresome, but memorable moments include a breathless opening, a shoot-out featuring the classic song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and a nail-biting finale which will leave you on the edge of the sofa.
TUESDAY Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) (Talking Pictures TV, 11.40am)
A respected journalist (Gregory Peck) poses as a Jew to investigate antiSemitism in Forties New York. To his horror, he’s refused a job and access to certain supposedly public areas, while his son is verbally attacked. Even his fiancee begins to display signs of prejudice in what turns out to be an eye-opening experience. After 64 years, this once hard-hitting drama looks a little dated in places, and some viewers may be surprised that a film about antiSemitism made just after the Second World War fails to mention the Holocaust.
The African Queen (1951) (GREAT! movies classic, 6.50pm)
John Huston’s classic adventure is as wonderful as it was on its cinema release 70 years ago. Humphrey Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as irascible Charlie Allnut, captain of the river boat African Queen. He is working in Eastern Africa in 1914 when war breaks out and German troops attack a local mission, resulting in the death of Reverend Samuel Sayer. The holy man’s sister Rose (Katharine Hepburn) charters Charlie to take her away from the anguish, and the sparks of attraction between them are evident from their first day on the water. En route, Rose persuades Charlie to help her attack a German warship using the African Queen – a daredevil manoeuvre that will take the enemy completely by surprise.
THURSDAY Blazing Saddles (1974) (BBC4, 10.10pm)
Mel Brooks’ classic spoof sees a corrupt businessman (Harvey Korman) hatch a plan to destroy a small town standing in the way of his railroad plans. He starts by ordering the murder of the town’s sheriff, and then convinces the government to appoint a black railroad worker (Cleavon Little) to replace him, knowing the closedminded villagers won’t be happy. But the new sheriff unexpectedly joins forces with an alcoholic ex-gunslinger (Gene Wilder) to fight the railroad and the bad guys. It’s hilarious and at times shockingly un-PC.