Something for the Weekend (3 - 5 July)

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Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter is back with his weekly look at the best films to watch over the weekend and beyond.

In honour of Dame Olivia De Havilland’s 104th birthday this week I watched Hold Back The Dawn (1941) and To Each His Own (1946). Both of them were directed by Mitchell Leisen who made some cracking films including Easy Living (1937) and the wonderful Christmas romance Remember The  Night (1940) with Barbara Stanywck and Fred MacMurray. That set me thinking, which hasn’t happened often during lockdown. Which director from Hollywood’s Golden Era is the most underrated or neglected?  You will all have seen your share of classics by Alfred Hitchcock or John Ford but who deserves more attention?  Five time Oscar nominee Clarence Brown perhaps who directed Garbo in Anna Karenina (1935)? Henry King whose career stretched over half a century and included The Song Of Bernadette (1943) and The Gunfighter (1950)? Or Dorothy Arzner, the only woman directing films in 1930s Hollywood? Arzner’s Dance Girl Dance (1940) starring Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball was released on Blu-Ray in the UK this week as part of the Criterion Collection. So, if lockdown has given you the gift of a little more spare time why not go beyond the obvious names and check out some neglected Hollywood gems. Whilst you pursue that mission, here are some recommendations for the weekend.

A White, White Day (15) (Peccadillo)

Available: Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 3 July

A White, White Day was a big hit when it screened at Glasgow Film Festival back in March as part of our extensive focus on Icelandic cinema. If you missed it then, you can catch it now on digital release. The second feature from Winter Brothers director Hlynur Pálmason is a hugely atmospheric tale of grief and guilt. One of our favourite guests from GFF 2020, Ingvar Sigurðsson, stars as a police chief confronted by the sudden death of his wife. Time passes but nothing eases his sense of sorrow. They were a completely devoted couple. The merest suspicion that his marriage may not have been perfect becomes an obsession as he starts to investigate his wife’s final weeks. A really compelling tale with performances to savour from Sigurðsson and Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir as his beloved granddaughter.

Lynn + Lucy (BFI)

Available: BFI player now

Writer/director Fyzal Boulifa makes an impressive feature debut with Lynn + Lucy. The story of a lifelong friendship tested by family tragedy develops into something much deeper and more unsettling than initially expected. Lynn (Roxanne Scrimshaw) and Lucy (Nichola Burley) have been best friends since school. Lynn married her first boyfriend and settled for a life as wife and teenage mother. The look in her eyes suggests a blind devotion to party girl Lucy who now has a baby boy of her own. One terrible event tears into their once unbreakable bond. Loyalties shift and prejudices play out. Lynn glimpses a possibility of reinvention but perhaps only at the expense of her friend. A sombre drama with an assured, heartfelt performance from newcomer Roxanne Scrimshaw.

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde 

Available: Hippodrome Silent Film Festival on Saturday 4 July at 8pm

One of the many casualties of the COVID-19 crisis has been the annual Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness. By way of compensation, the enterprising organisers are hosting their first online screening this weekend. The treat on offer is the landmark 1920 version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde starring 'The Great Profile' John Barrymore. Neil Brand provides the music and Pamela Hutchinson contributes a brief introduction. Access is available through the Hippodrome Facebook page.

Angela Lansbury on Talking Pictures TV

Who doesn’t love Angela Lansbury? Broadway star, TV icon, screen veteran. Her film career began in 1943 with Gaslight and she is still going strong more than three quarters of a century later. Her most memorable film roles including the scheming newspaper owner in State Of The Union (1948), the controlling mother in All Fall Down (1962), the chilling matriarch in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), the apprentice witch in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), the outrageous scene-stealer Salome Otterbourne in Death On The Nile (1978). The list goes on.

Talking Pictures TV has a selection of treats ahead for Lansbury fans. They start on Friday 3 July at 6.55pm with her one shot as Miss Marple in the tame adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d (1980) co-starring Elizabeth Taylor. In the trashy biopic Harlow (1965) (Sunday 5 July, 10.05pm), she is the pushy mother of 1930s screen star Jean Harlow played by Carroll Baker. In the old school, all-star period romp The Amorous Adventures Of Moll Flanders (1965) (Friday 3 July, 10pm) she plays Lady Blystone opposite the likes of  Kim Novak, Richard Johnson, George Sanders and Lilli Palmer. Best of all, they are  screening the sublimely silly comedy The Court Jester (1956) (Thursday 9 July, 5.25pm) in which Lansbury co-stars with an inspired Danny Kaye.

Also showing….

Television highlights over the coming weekend include the gentle, beguiling David Lynch road movie The Straight Story (1999) (Film 4, Saturday 4 July, 11am) featuring a touching, Oscar-nominated performance from Richard Farnsworth and the irresistible romantic weepie An Affair To Remember (1957) (Sony Movies Classic, Saturday 4 July, 9pm) with the dream team of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Finally, Xavier Legrand’s nail-biting child custody drama Custody (2017), which won the Audience Award at GFF, screens on Film 4, Monday 6 July at 11.20pm. Unmissable.

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