TV Movies of the Week: Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood


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On Saturday

BBC Two, Journey’s End, 9 p.m.

This strong drama stars Asa Butterfield as naive young Second Lieutenant Raleigh, who arrives at the front in the final year of the war, based on RC Sherriff’s classic 1928 play, which has already been filmed four times, and appropriately shot on the centennial of the end of World War I. Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin), a family friend who was a couple of years ahead of Raleigh in college, is his commanding officer. The young soldier is looking forward to their reunion and the promise of serving with him, only to discover that the horrors of the trenches have turned Stanhope into a transformed man. Paul Bettany, Toby Jones and Stephen Graham are among the outstanding supporting cast.

On Sunday

Sunday, Movie 4, The Guy Who Would Be King, 6:10 p.m.

Sean Connery’s late tributes necessarily concentrated on the roles he is best known for: James Bond, which he played seven times between 1962 and 1983, and Jimmy Malone from The Untouchables, the film he won his only Oscar for in 1987. There, no arguments. But what would purists say was the perfect film for Connery? Possibly not the western Shalako of 1968, in which he appeared alongside Brigitte Bardot, or Zardoz’s 1974 science fiction oddity. Nevertheless, there are several candidates, including The Name of the Rose, Search for Red October, The Hill and Finding Forrester. But though each has its merits, this late, great work by Hollywood legend John Huston will all have to pass through them.

Released in 1975, in 19th century India, the movie stars Connery as Daniel Dravot and Michael Caine as Peachy Carnehan, two former soldiers turned outlaw explorers who find their way to the remote mountain kingdom of Kafiristan, where Dravot is installed as king and then mistaken for a god that goes to his head. The movie is based on the 1888 novella of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, which Huston had wanted to film for decades. In the leading roles, he initially flirted with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, and later Robert Redford and Paul Newman – this was after Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Boy – but Newman allegedly turned the part down, saying, “They have to be English. Connery and Caine.”

Aside from Newman’s poor sense of nationality, he nailed the position fairly well. And so it was up to Connery and Caine that they had to turn to Huston. “Thank God,” in Have You Seen?, says respected film critic David Thomson. His survey of his 1,000 favorite movies. “Because once the two of them get together, the heart of the movie is indomitable, and a natural boyish humor emerges.”

And how. And how! The cinematography is fabulous, the sets are beautiful (Huston shot the film in France and Morocco), and there are countless pleasing details, both in the adaptation and in the cast of supporting actors. Connery and Caine are in sparkling form. At the beginning, Rudyard Kipling appears as a character (played by Christopher Plummer, who stepped in after Richard Burton bailed) and Saeed Jaffrey (as Billy Fish, an ex-Ghurka with whom Danny and Peachy fall in love) and Shakira Caine, the wife of Michael Caine, who plays Roxanne, are winning roles for the woman Danny falls hard for. The film was nominated for four Oscars, including for its gorgeous costumes designed by the great Edith Head, the woman who put Audrey Hepburn in the iconic LBD in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. A wonderful tribute to a great actor from Scotland.

About Monday

Talking Images, Charade, 10:20 p.m.

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant make a delightful pair in director Stanley Donen’s hugely entertaining romantic thriller that mixes stylish Hitchcock-esque intrigue with screwball comedy. Regina Lambert (Hepburn) is considering divorcing her husband, but before she can break the news to him, she learns that he has been murdered. It also turns out that he was involved in a $250,000 heist – and his former accomplices believe she can point them in the direction of the loot. Regina turns to a handsome stranger (Grant) for help, but can she really trust him? The impressive supporting cast includes Walter Matthau and James Coburn, but no one comes close to the leads, who have such great chemistry that you wish they’d made more movies together.

On Tuesday

Casino Royale, ITV4, 9 p.m.

The James Bond franchise gets a tough and gritty makeover, with Daniel Craig making his debut


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