Build My Gallows High (1947 96min.) [Movies4Men - Sky 325, Freeview 48, Freesat 304 - 11.30am &+1]
Classic film noir starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. Former private detective Jeff Bailey finds his violent past catching up with him when he's recognised by a customer at his gas station. The meeting reminds Bailey of the time he was hired to find the girlfriend of a gambler who disappeared with $40,000.
Cracking film noir with Mitchum giving a terrific performance and Douglas relishing the 'bad guy' role.
Superbly directed by black and white horror master Jacques Tourneur - under rated and overlooked for many years it's now considered on of the best Hollywood detective films of its time
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981 110min.) [BBC1 1.45pm]
Action adventure starring Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. Indiana Jones's outrageous exploits take him around the world in search of the legendary Ark of the Covenant, a religious artefact of unspeakable power wanted by the Nazis. With the help of an old flame, Indy takes on his enemies in a terrifying and death-defying battle to the finish.
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's definitve statement on their continuing obsession with the comforting nostalgia of American cinema.
A boys-own adventure serial remade on a big budget : packed full of cliffhangers, humour and special effects set pieces.
Harrison Ford creates an iconic role and there's good work by Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott and Paul Freeman among a strong cast.
It's a complete throwback, out of step with all of its contemporaries, but it's atmosphere and sheer joie de vive (and a perfect theme/score) allowed it to succeed and become one of the defining films of eighties Hollywood.
White Christmas (1954 115min.) [Ch4 11.50am &+1]
Musical starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Old army buddies Phil Davis and Bob Wallace travel with the glamorous Haynes sisters to the Columbia Inn in Vermont. There, Phil and Bob are reunited with their old commanding officer, General Waverly, who is now struggling to keep the hotel going. The visitors decide there's only one answer - to put on a show.
There’s two really good things on show here : Danny Kaye’s show stealing performance and the direction by Hollywood veteran Michael Curtiz (who also directed Casablanca). Bing gets to sing That Song and Vera-Ellen’s dancing is seriously impressive.
Shrek 2 (2004 88min.) [BBC1 3.50pm]
Sequel to the hit animated fantasy comedy, featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. On arriving back from their honeymoon, Shrek and princess Fiona are invited to stay with her parents in the kingdom of Far Far Away. But King Harold is less than enchanted by his new son-in-law, and the Fairy Godmother has good reason to want the ogre out of Fiona's life. Cue assassin-for hire Puss-in-Boots...
Rather disappointing sequel to the rip-roaring original. Some very good sight gags and brilliant animation but the story and some of the voice work let too much daylight in on the magic.
The Others (2001 99min.) [Film4 1.30am &+1]
Atmospheric period horror thriller starring Nicole Kidman. In a remote mansion on the Channel Island of Jersey at the end of the Second World War, Grace is praying for news of her husband, who has been declared missing in action. Her children have an allergy to sunlight and cannot leave the house, so Grace advertises for some home help. Three people respond to her request, but their arrival coincides with a series of sinister occurrences.
Nicole Kidman gives a spirited (!) performance and director Alejandro Amenábar uses a style which will be familiar to those who have seen classic chillers such as The Haunting (1963) and The Innocents (1961) - shocks are delivered by suggestion and atmosphere, rather than CGI gore and guts.
The end result is a deeply satisfying, subtle and enjoyable film that, even when you know or work out the twist, still has plenty to offer.