Duke Box #41: Our Guide to the Best Films on TV

Duke Box #41: Our Guide to the Best Films on TV

Hi everyone,  

This week’s Duke Box is undeniably mega. It’s also a bit of a strange one as I imagine, like me, you’re happily leafing through a Radio Times and circling what you want to watch. Nevertheless, I've powered on and pulled out what I think is a decent mix of this and that - including a hefty number of films that I absolutely adore. As there are So Many Films on this week too, including ones in prime spots that I've highlighted in previous weeks, I've decided to mix it up and give notable mentions to a number of films that have graced Duke Box before. Now's the perfect time to catch up with them, so why not?

There are far, far too many wonderful films for me to give a shout out to without feeling guilty for missing one off, let alone make a Pick of the Week, but here goes: there's musical magic in the cinema dream Singin' in the Rain, family fun and feelings aplenty in Paddington 1 & 2 and Pixar's Coco and Inside Out, thrills in a Hitchcock double-bill and chills in The Silence of the Lambs, and a side-splitting trek through the New Zealand bush in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. 

Regardless of what you pick out, whether it's old favourites or first time watches, I hope you find something here to help you have as lovely a Christmas as possible. Best wishes & see you in the new year. 

(A reminder to have a look at what's cropping up in the 'Another Chance to See' bit as well. If you can't quite remember what I said about the film on previous recommendations, you can find it by searching on our website for the title or by having a quick peek at IMDB.com. Also to note that this list isn't exhaustive – these are just some titles that I've selected as ones to try out or revisit, hopefully at the best times. Some films may also change if channels decide to alter their listings.) 

Duke Box 40

Thursday 24

Kung Fu Panda (2008) – BBC1, 9am
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) – BBC1, 10.45am
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) – C5, 12.55pm
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) – BBC2, 1.25pm
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – C4, 2.35pm
Ben-Hur (1959) – C5, 3.05pm
Jason and the Argonauts (1963) – C5, 5.25pm 

Best of the Rest: Moana (BBC1, 12.35pm), Paddington (BBC1, 4.15pm), How To Train Your Dragon (E4, 6pm), Thelma & Louise (5Star, 9pm), Tangerine (Film4, 1.35am)

Another chance to see: Ice Age (Film4, 1.05pm), The Grinch (ITV2, 4.05pm), Megamind (Film4, 4.30pm), It Could Happen to You (Sony Movies, 4.40pm), Stranger Than Fiction (Sony Movies, 6.45pm), The Devil Wears Prada (5Star, 6.50pm), Arthur Christmas (CBBC, 7pm), The Holiday (ITV2, 7.45pm), Shirley Valentine (C5, 10pm), Ghost Stories (BBC2, 12.15am)

Family films, musicals, classics – one or a combination of them seems to be dealer’s choice on Christmas Eve. In terms of the former there’s a pretty healthy selection, beginning with morning screenings of the thoroughly enjoyable Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 3 (Kung Fu Panda 2 is popping up on Film4 later in the week, so I can only assume it’s a network rights issue that’s stopping the complete line up here). Disney’s Moana and Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon round out the animation picks, both boasting beautiful visuals, dynamic heroes and fan-favourite moments (from Moana’s soundtrack to the adorable Toothless the Dragon in HTTYD). Dukes favourite Paddington also reappears, crash-landing in London with his marmalade sandwiches, being adopted by the Browns and chased by Nicole Kidman’s deviant taxidermist. It’s a truly wonderful, uplifting film and perfect viewing for Christmas Eve. In terms of musicals, there’s Stanley Donen’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, starring genre stalwart Howard Keel, and Vincente Minnelli’s divine Technicolor dream Meet Me in St. Louis, led by a devastatingly good Judy Garland, lending her voice to classic songs like “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. In terms of pure Christmas spirit, it’s hard to look past It’s a Wonderful Life, the heart-warming festive weepie about an angel who shows a suicidal man what the world would have been like for his loved ones if he hadn’t existed. It is beautiful. If it’s more swords and sandals than snow and mittens you’re after, fear not – Charlton Heston stars as Jewish prince turned slave out for revenge in the epic Ben-Hur, while Ray Harryhausen’s delightful special effects rightly steal the spotlight in Jason & the Argonauts.

Friday 25

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – BBC2, 11.35am
Oliver! (1968) – C5, 12.05pm
Early Man (2018) 
– BBC1, 1.15pm
Some Like It Hot (1959) – BBC2, 1.15pm
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)  - C5, 3.10pm
Coco (2017) – BBC1, 3.10pm
The Italian Job (1969) – C4, 3.30pm
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) – C4, 5.30pm
Stage on Screen: Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes (2019) – BBC2, 6pm
Stage on Screen: Royal Opera: All-Star Gala (2020) – BBC4, 7.40pm
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – ITV4, 9pm
Maria by Callas (2017) – BBC4, 9.10pm
La La Land (2016) – BBC2, 10.10pm
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) – BBC4, 11.05pm
Four Weddings & a Funeral (1994) – C4, 12.15am
Steve Jobs (2015) – C5, 3.10am

Best of the Rest: The Remains of the Day (Sony Movies, 2.30pm), Spartacus (ITV4, 2.55pm), Scrooge (Talking Pictures TV, 3.05pm), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Film4, 11.15pm), Spider-Man: Homecoming (signed – BBC2, 12.10am)

Another chance to see: An Inspector Calls (Talking Pictures TV, 10.30am), Nanny McPhee (ITV2, 11.05am), Little Women (Sony Movies, 12.10pm), Peter Pan (ITV2, 1.05pm), Chicken Run (ITV2, 3.50pm), The Simpsons Movie (Film4, 5.05pm), Ice Cold in Alex (Sony Action, 5.20pm), The Longest Day (More4, 5.25pm), Goodbye Christopher Robin (Film4, 6.50pm), Spectre (ITV2, 8pm), Master & Commander: the Far Side of the World (Sony Movies, 8pm), Battle of Midway (Sony Action, 8pm), A Few Good Men (5Star, 9pm), Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (The Horror Channel, 10.55pm), Rain Man (5Star, 11.50pm), A Most Violent Year (Sony Movies, 1.20am)

Christmas Day schedules are notoriously…patchy, but there are some cinematic treats to keep an eye out for during the day. Classic musicals Singin’ in the Rain, Oliver! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all make an appearance, with the former being my personal pick of the bunch – especially at this time of year – while Damien Chazell’s modern musical-romance La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a jazz musician and aspiring actress dazzles and dances through a love affair and ambition in the evening. And for another twist on dance, there’s a fantastic opportunity to catch a bit of stage-on-the-small-screen, with Matthew Bourne’s sumptuous ballet production of The Red Shoes on at teatime (does teatime exist on Christmas day?) and Royal Opera: All Star Gala, a collection of famous arias and duets from some of the most renowned operas which was recorded in September. It kickstarts an evening of opera-themed viewing on the channel, with intimate documentary Callas by Maria and comedy-drama-true-story Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, cropping up afterwards. Elsewhere, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe combine to glorious effect in Billy Wilder’s quick-witted comedy Some Like It Hot, while Michael Caine goes mad in a load of minis in the classic heist movie The Italian Job. There are terrestrial debuts for animation big-hitters Early Man and Coco. The former comes from the beloved Aardman studios, with a stellar voice cast to boot in its prehistoric adventures, while the latter is another slice of wonder from Pixar, about how a young boy’s determination to become a musician leads him on an unsuspecting quest into the stunning, vibrant world of the Land of the Dead. The score is beautiful, the animation breathtaking and the story captivating. Goes without saying when it comes to Pixar, but tissues are the ready too. There’s other family entertainment in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, a sequel that follows a similar, but ramped up sort of formula as before, only this time Kevin is alone in the Big Apple (yes, his parents have not learnt their lesson). For other Christmas hijinks, there’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a goofy, crude and hilarious comedy about the ultimate chaotic family Christmas. Finally, if you’re not completely done in, or if the twenty naps throughout the day leave you wide awake, you could do worse than following Hugh Grant’s bumbling rom-com breakthrough or Kristin Scott Thomas’ BAFTA-winning droll delivery in Four Weddings & a Funeral or stay up to an ungodly hour to catch Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, an intricately plotted look at pivotal moments in the late tech giant’s life, starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels.

Saturday 26

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – BBC2, 10.40am
Calamity Jane (1953) – BBC2, 1.10pm
Brave (2012) – BBC1, 1.20pm
Cinderella (2015) – BBC2, 2.50pm
Grease (1978) – BBC1, 5pm
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) – BBC2, 6.40pm
Stage on Screen: Royal Ballet All-Star Gala – BBC4, 7pm  
Dunkirk (2017) – BBC1, 9.05pm
Suite Francaise (2014) – BBC4, 10.50pm 

Best of the Repeats: Hobson’s Choice (Talking Pictures TV, 6pm), Hidden Figures (C4, 6.40pm), Went the Day Well? (Talking Pictures TV, 8.10pm), Snowpiercer (Film4, 11.20pm)

Another chance to see: Early Man (Signed, BBC1, 7.10am), The Karate Kid (C5, 12pm), Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who (C4, 12pm), The Man Who Invented Christmas (More4, 12.25pm), Ben-Hur (ITV4, 2.40pm), The Winslow Boy (Talking Pictures TV, 3.10pm), Jumanji (C5, 4.55pm),  Sink the Bismarck! (Sony Movies Action, 5.05pm), It’s a Wonderful Life (4seven, 6.35pm), Carry On Screaming (ITV3, 7.30pm), An Officer & Gentlemen (5Star, 9pm), Carry On Cleo (ITV3, 9.30pm), Personal Services (Talking Pictures TV, 10pm), The Holiday (ITV, 10.45pm), The Bodyguard (5Star, 11.40pm), Gregory’s Girl (Drama, 11.50pm), Seraphim Falls (Sony Movies, 12.35am)

If you’re still in the mood for musicals, there’s more to whet your appetite here, beginning with Kiss Me Kate, a fun meta twist on Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ that moves the ‘battle of the sexes’ narrative into the middle of divorced Broadway stars (Howard Keel & Kathryn Grayson)  forced to reunite on stage. Keel appears again as Wild Bill Hickok in Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day at the top of her game as the Deadwood sharp-shooting, no-nonsense titular character (her rendition of Secret Love is quite unbelievable), while later on there’s high school hijinks, Pink Ladies and a whole lot of smouldering in Grease. Disney princesses vie for your attention in the early afternoon, with Pixar’s beautifully animated Brave, a Scotland -et story about a bristling mother-daughter relationship that takes an un-bear-lievable turn (sorry to those who get that), and a brightly coloured, live-action version of Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James as Cinders, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother & a devilish Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother. James appears again in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a thoughtful romantic drama about a writer who forms a bond with residents of the formerly Nazi-occupied Guernsey in 1946. It’s the first of three WWII-tinged picks, with Christopher Nolan’s tense retelling of the Dunkirk invasion (with a cast including Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance) and tender, understated drama Suite Francaise, starring Michelle Williams as a lonely Frenchwoman who finds herself caught in a dangerous romance (Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas co-star). There’s also a little more ballet, with the Royal Ballet: All Star Gala, following a very similar format to the previous day’s opera offering.


Sunday 27

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) – BBC1, 10.20am
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – BBC1, 11.40am
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – More4, 12.45pm
Despicable Me (2010) – ITV, 2.35pm
The Sound of Music (1965) – BBC1, 3.45pm
Pride & Prejudice (2005) – C5, 4.10pm
Red River (1948) – ITV4, 6.35pm
Billy Elliott (2000) – BBC4, 9pm
The Silence of the Lambs (1993) – ITV, 10.40pm

Best of the Repeat: Pretty Woman (Sony Movies, 9pm), Thelma & Louise (5Star, 11.25pm), Wild (Film4, 11.40pm)

Another chance to see: Monsters University (BBC1, 1.55pm), Edward Scissorhands (C4, 2.10pm), Open Range (Paramount, 2.25pm), Nanny McPhee (ITV2, 3.50pm), Chicken Run (ITV2, 5.55pm), Eddie the Eagle (C4, 6pm), Bridget Jones’s Baby (5Star, 9pm), Hang ‘Em High (Paramount, 9pm), Spider-Man: Homecoming (BBC1, 11.40pm), Singin’ in the Rain (BBC4, 10.45pm), The Colditz Story (Sony Action, 11.20pm), Closer (Sony Movies, 11.25pm), The Wolf of Wall Street (UTV4, 12am), The Drop (Film4, 1.55am)

A day that begins with a double bill of Aardman is a good one in my book. Shaun the Sheep Movie is a masterclass in family entertainment and silent comedy, while Wallace & the Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is another fabulous adventure for the cheese-loving duo, paying homage to Hammer Horror cinema along the way. (And if you’re in the mood for more Aardman, look out for the Chicken Run listing in the repeats above). Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend for Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in the sparkling and charismatic musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, while the hills are alive with The Sound of Music for Julie Andrews’ nun-turned-governess Maria and Christopher Plummer’s reserved Captain Von Trapp in the soaring, sentimental and sublime Rodgers and Hammerstein Alpine spectacular. Julie Andrews actually lends her voice to family animation Despicable Me too, playing the mother of the master-villain Gru (voiced with gusto by Steve Carrell) who finds his dastardly plans compromised when he ends up fostering three orphans. Keira Knightley and James Purefoy step into the shoes of Jane Austen’s Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy in Joe Wright’s luscious, tenderly crafted adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, John Wayne and Montgomery Clift star in Howard Hawks’ sweeping Western Red River, and Jamie Bell brings the house down in the joyful Billy Elliott, tap-dancing to T-Rex alongside Julie Walters in a touching story of a working-class boy’s dreams to just be himself, set against the backdrop of the miners’ strikes of 1980s’ Durham. Last, but certainly not list, there’s a chance to see the spectacular, masterful thriller The Silence of the Lambs, one of just three winners of the Big 5 at the Oscars – Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress (the other two are Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night and Milos Foreman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Jodie Foster makes for the perfect Clarice Starling, a young, unsure but determined FBI agent sent to ask the imprisoned Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter for help in the hunt for another serial killer. Hopkins is wonderful as Lecter, creating a big impression in the short amount of time he’s on screen, and the scenes between him and Foster (giving the performance of her career) are electric, cementing this hero and villain as one for the ages. A shout-out out to supporting cast Ted Levine, Scott Glenn and Catherine Martin, Demme’s dynamic direction and Howard Shore’s haunting score – particularly ‘Lambs Screaming’.   

Monday 28

Evil Under the Sun (1982) – BBC2, 9.55am
Paddington 2 (2017) 
– BBC1, 10.20am
Inside Out (2015) – BBC1, 1.20pm
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) – BBC2, 2.10pm
Jurassic Park (1993) – ITV2, 2.40pm
The Jungle Book (2016) – BBC1, 3pm
Death on the Nile (1978) – BBC2, 4.15pm
Minority Report (2002) 
– BBC1, 10.30pm
The Fugitive (1993) - ITV4, 10.50pm (also on at 9pm later in the week)
Liam Gallagher: As It Was (2019) – BBC2, 11.20pm
Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love (2019) – BBC4, 11.50pm
The Babadook (2014) – BBC2, 12.45am
Mindhorn (2016) – BBC1, 1.45am

Best of the Repeats: The Addams Family (C5, 3pm), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (C4, 4.05pm)), The Addams Family Values (C5, 5.05pm), Four Weddings a Funeral (4seven, 9pm), Trainspotting (C4, 11pm), Mandy (Film4, 11.25pm)

Another chance to see: Matilda (C5, 12.55pm), The Addams Family (C5, 3pm), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (C4, 4.05pm), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Sony Movies Action, 4.30pm), The Addams Family Values (C5, 5.05pm), Mamma Mia (ITVBe, 6.45pm), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (C5, 8pm), Bridesmaids (ITV2, 9pm), A Fistful of Dollars (Paramount, 9pm), Allied (Flm4, 9pm), Re-animator (The Horror Channel, 10.50pm), Danger: DIabolik (Film4, 1.45am)

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery at Christmas – especially when it comes from the pen of Agatha Christie? There’s a trio of tales adapted from her works on today, with Peter Ustinov taking the role of Poirot in Evil Under the Sun and Death on the Nile and Albert Finney on moustache duty in Murder on the Orient Express. The supporting casts across the board are outstanding, with Maggie Smith, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Diana Rigg, Anthony Perkins, John Gielgud and David Niven all cropping up. It’s another great day for family film viewing too, particularly on BBC1. Poor Paddington finds himself incarcerated (how DARE they) when he’s framed for theft by Hugh Grant’s hilarious actor in the brilliantly funny, moving and simply wonderfully made hit sequel Paddington 2 (Grant should have at least a BAFTA for his performance), while Pixar do it again in the remarkable Inside Out, a beautiful, thoughtful, funny and rewardingly inventive story about an 11 year old girl and the Emotions, led by the cheery Joy, who live inside her head and have to navigate the turmoil of a new house and school. It’s cleverly done, entertaining for kids and a knockout for adults. There’s also Jon Favreau’s live-action take on The Jungle Book (featuring Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie), while it’s also impossible for me to contemplate a Christmas Bank Holiday without a mention for Steven Spielberg’s dino-classic Jurassic Park, which frankly never ever gets old (and if you look in the repeats there’s a cheeky double-bill of The Addams Family for anyone wanting to bite through the saccharine). There’s a couple of framed-and-on-the-run thrillers in the evening, with The Fugitive, which sees Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble trying to evade Tommy Lee Jones’ persistent U.S. Marshal after being set-up for the murder of his own wife, and Spielberg’s Minority Report, a loose Philip K. Dick adaptation about a futuristic society where a special police unit has the A.I to make arrests for predicted crimes…which is okay in Tom Cruise’s book until the finger suddenly points at him. Music documentaries Liam Gallagher: As It Was and Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, about Leonard Cohen’s time in Hydra with his muse Marianne Ihlen, reveal the lives and influences at key moments in the musicians’ careers, while there’s an accidental Essie Davis pairing in the evening, with her powerful performance in the brilliant The Babadook, an Australian horror film whose monster story is an astonishing allegory for grief and depression, and British madcap comedy Mindhorn, about a has-been actor known for his role as the titular British detective who finds himself wound up in a real hunt for a killer. The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barrett is in the lead, with Davis, Harriet Walter and Andrea Riseborough in support.

Tuesday 29

The Croods (2013) – BBC1, 10.30am
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – ITV3, 10.45am
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – C5, 12.10pm
Love & Friendship (2016) – BBC2, 1.35pm
Zootropolis (2016) – BBC1, 1.55pm
Frozen (2013) – BBc1, 3.35pm
Wonder Woman (2017) – ITV, 7.30pm
Chef (2014) - Film4, 11.45pm
Point Break (1991) - BBC1, 12am
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2018) – BBC2, 1am

Another chance to see: The NeverEnding Story (BBC1, 9am), Jason & the Argonauts (C5, 9.55am), Jurassic Park: The Lost World (ITV2, 2.30pm), Miss Congeniality (ITV2, 6pm), The Remains of the Day (Sony Movies, 6.20pm), Hellboy II: the Golden Army (ITV4, 9pm), Forrest Gump (Film4, 9pm), True Romance (Sony Movies, 9pm)

Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener and the great Cloris Leachmen all lend their vocal talents to prehistoric family animation The Croods in the morning, while there’s double Disney delight in the afternoon with back-to-back screenings of the quick-witted, quick-paced Zootopia, featuring a timely, intelligent message of inclusivity, and winery family favourite Frozen. There’s other family fare, albeit slightly more twisted or older-aimed, in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring a perfect Gene Wilder and (Charlie) Buckets of Roald Dahl nostalgia, and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which not only packs a superhero punch but delivers on emotion and charm too. David Lean, Alec Guiness and William Holden are all at the top of their game in revered war epic The Bridge on the River Kwai, as Kate Beckinsale darts a sharp tongue in the delightful and fun Love & Friendship, a surprising period drama loosely based on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and directed by American indie filmmaker White Stilman. Jon Favreau is in front of and behind the camera (alongside an impressive ensemble cast) in the delicious feel-good comedy-drama Chef, the story of a, well, chef who leaves the restaurant trade behind to embark on the food-truck business, while Keanu Reeves’ undercover FBI breaks the waves with Patrick Swayze’s bank-robbing surfer in Kathryn Bigelow’s excellent cult actioner Point Break, while Ben Wheatley’s Happy New year, Colin Burstead sees the filmmaker reunite with Kill List star Neil Maskell for a drama about a family gathering for New Year in a lavish country manner. I, Daniel Blake’s Haley Squires, Sam Riley, Charles Dance and more co-star.

Wednesday 30

To Catch a Thief (1955) – BBC2, 1.05pm
Trolls (2016) 
– BBC1, 1.50pm
North by Northwest (1959) – BBC2, 2.50pm
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) – BBC1, 3.35pm
Dirty Dancing (1987) – C5, 6pm
Stage on Screen: Uncle Vanya (2020) – BBC4, 10pm
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Film4, 10.50pm
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – Film4, 12.55am

Another chance to see: Early Man (BBC1, 10.30am), Akeelah & the Bee (Film4, 12.45pm), A League of Their Own (Sony Movies, 1.35pm), Shirley Valentine (C5, 1.35pm), Open Range (Paramount, 2.25pm), Calendar Girls (C5, 3.45pm), Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang (ITV2, 4.10pm), It Could Happen To You (Sony Movies, 4.10pm), Goodbye Christopher Robin (Film4, 6.50pm), How to Train Your Dragon (R4, 7.30pm), Ghost (C5, 8pm), The Fugitive (ITV4, 9pm), Two Mules for Sister Sara (Paramount, 9pm), Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (BBC1, 1.20am)

A scintillating Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock afternoon double bill on BBC2? Don’t mind if I do! To Catch a Thief sees Grant’s former cat burglar brought out of retirement and forced to clear his name after a spate of copycat thefts leave him as chief suspect. There’s charm and chemistry in spades between him and Grace Kelly’s jewel owner, while the French Riviera looks positively glorious. Gripping action-thriller North by Northwest, meanwhile, sees Grant pursued by a spy in a case of mistaken identity, leading to one of cinema’s most iconic shots and sequences. For families there’s the brightly coloured Trolls for little ones and the stunning sequel How To Train Your Dragon 2, which sees Cate Blanchett join its ranks for another magical, emotional adventure. Much in the same way I can’t resist flagging up Dirty Dancing, I’m also weak to the charm of Hunt for the Wilderpeople too – maybe that’s why both made it into our Sunset Screenings in 2019. From the unabashed romance, music, dancing and lovely performances in the former (which may surprise in taking on bigger issues than you remember), to the genuinely tears-of-laughter comedic brilliance of Sam Neill and Julian Dennison in Taika Waititi’s New Zealand adventure, I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of either. If you do watch the latter, you could do a lot worse than stick around for Walter Salles’ The Motorcycle Diaries, a beautifully shot and tenderly acted account of a young Che Guevara’s formative motorcycle trip from Brazil to Peru in his youth, with Gael Garcia Bernal stepping into the lead role. There's more stage-on-screen too with a special recorded performance of the Harold Pinter Theatre's Uncle Vanya, starring Toby Jones and Richard Armitgae. The play's run was halted earlier this year, before being reassembled especially to be filmed for screenings in cinemas.   

Thursday 31

Steel Magnolias (1989) – C5, 10am
Rio Bravo (1959) – BBC2, 1.15pm
Beauty & the Beast (2017)
– BBC1, 2.20pm
The Pink Panther (1963) – ITV4, 5.40pm
Dead of Night (1945) – Talking Pictures TV, 6.50pm
Skyfall (2012) – ITV, 9pm
Withnail & I (1987) – Film4, 11.15pm
Made in Dagenham (2010) – BBC1, 2.10am

Best of the Repeat: Spartacus (ITV4, 11.30am), Paddington (C4, 5.15pm), The Sound of Music (BBC4, 8pm)

Another chance to see: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (C5, 12.20pm), Jurassic Park (ITV2, 2.50pm), Paint Your Wagon (BBC2, 3.30pm), Ice Cold in Alex (Sony Action, 5.20pm), King Kong (ITV2, 5.25pm), Hot Fuzz (ITV2, 9pm), A Few Good Men (5Star, 9pm), Dances with Wolves (Sony Action, 10.20pm), Rain Man (5Star, 11.50pm), Halloween (Film4, 1.25am) Begin your New Year’s Eve with some Southern charm, a top-notch ensemble and a sack full of tears in Steel Magnolias, which features the Holy Trinity of Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Shirley MacLaine (plus many more). John Wayne is joined by crooners Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in Howard Hawks Western Rio Bravo, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens lead an all-star cast in Bill Condon’s live-action retelling of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, and Peter Sellers’s hapless Inspector Clouseau bumbles his way round Europe as he tries to nab a jewel thief in Blake Edwards’ comedy classic The Pink Panther. For something a bit more sinister, head over to Talking Pictures TV for the horror portmanteau film Dead of Night, which sees an architect slowly spiralling into madness as his guests share a series of supernatural stories with him (ones that inspired by H.G. Wells amongst others). There’s a whole mixture of activity in the evening too, with Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond, James Bond in Skyfall, Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as two unemployed actors partial to a drink and on an accidental holiday in the Lake District in cult British black comedy Withnail & I and an early 2021 screening of British true story Made in Dagenham, starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins and inspired by the story of female factory workers in the 1960s striking for equal pay.  

Friday 1

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)  - Paramount, 10.50am
Charade (1963)  - ITV3, 11.50am
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet – Sky Arts, 12.20pm
Tea With Mussolini (1999) – BBC2, 1.20pm
Bugsy Malone (1976)  - ITV3, 2pm
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – BBC1, 2pm
Stardust (2007) – C4, 3.05pm
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) – BBC1, 4.30pm
The Greatest Showman (2017) – C4, 5.30pm
Mr Holmes (2015) – BBC2, 6.20pm
WarGames (1983) – Film4, 6.45pm
Whitney: Can I Be Me? (2017) – BBC4, 9.30pm
Pulp Fiction (1995) - Dave, 10pm
Pitch Perfect (2012) – ITV, 10.45pm
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – BBC1, 10.55pm
Papillion (1973) – Paramount, 11.15pm   
Under the Skin (2013) – Film4, 1.25am

Another chance to see: Oliver! (C5, 8.30am), On the Town (BBC2, 8.40am), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (C5, 11.35am), The Remains of the Day (Sony Movies, 11.45am), Ben-Hur (ITV4, 11.55am), Mary & the Witch’s Flower (Film4, 12.45pm), Dances with Wolves (Sony Movies, 2.30pm), Jumanji (C5, 2.30pm), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (ITV3, 4pm), Red River (ITV4, 4.10pm), The Longest Day (More4, 4.25pm), Two Mules for Sister Sara (Paramount, 6.35pm), Dirty Dancing (Sony Movies, 6.55pm), Spectre (ITV2, 7.55pm), Bridget Jones’ Baby (5Star, 9pm), Pretty Woman (Sony Movies, 9pm), The Day of the Jackal (Sony Action, 9pm), Hang ‘Em High (Paramount, 9pm), Witchfinder General (Talking Pictures TV, 9.45pm), True Romance (Sony Movies, 11.25pm), An Officer and a Gentleman (5Star, 11.30pm)

A couple of classics make a reappearance in the morning, with John Ford’s Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring James Stewart and John Wayne, and Stanley Donen’s Charade, suspenseful Parisian romance featuring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, making the most out of the big names involved. With Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Cher and Lily Tomlin involved, Franco Zeffirelli’s war-time comedy-drama Tea With Mussolini does similar, although you might actually want to wait until it’s repeated next week where it’s paired with Nothing Like a Dame. There’s more Matthew Bourne ballet gorgeousness in this recorded version of his production of Romeo & Juliet, while there’s more rambunctious music and dancing on display in Alan Parker’s musical retelling of the story of Bugsy Malone, with an all-child cast playing the mobsters – including a young Jodie Foster – and the Hugh Jackman-led juggernaut that is The Greatest Showman on at teatime. (There are also a host of repeated musicals throughout the morning if you check out the ‘another chance to see’ bit above.) For fantastical family adventures, there’s How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a beautiful third outing for Toothless the Dragon, and Neil Gaiman’s dreamy, alternative fairytale Stardust, with an unbelievable cast delighting in its wit, whimsy & genre-splicing: Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Peter O’Toole, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, Ian McKellen…the list goes on and on. There’s also a pretty starry cast at the centre of the rollicking good time film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; no, it’s not going to win awards for accuracy (especially with that geography and those accents), but it’s so much fun – especially Alan Rickman, having the time of his life as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham – and it’s a Christmas holiday (any UK holiday) classic. Ian McKellen stars as an elderly Sherlock trying to combat a faulty memory to solve one last case in tender drama Mr Holmes, whereas it’s more of a techno-mystery at play in WarGames, a 1980s thriller/action/drama about an American teenage boy who accidentally hacks into a military computer and puts the world on the brink of WWIII. The late, great singer Whitney Houston is the subject of documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me?, while Tarantino’s stylish and twisty crime drama Pulp Fiction, charming acapella competition comedy Pitch Perfect and Marvel’s intergalactic superhero smash Guardians of the Galaxy all delight in punchy musical cues, soundtracks, riffs and needle drops. Finally, Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman try to escape from a brutal prison island in 1970s heavy Papillon and a sinister, mysterious Scarlett Johansson prowls the streets of Glasgow looking for unsuspecting men in Jonathan Glazer’s trippy, unnerving sci-fi horror Under the Skin.