Backdraft, Dirty Harry and The Constant Gardener: films on TV today

Ron Howard's fireball thriller, Eastwood's hard as nails Police Inspector and Oscar glory for Rachel Weisz: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 

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Backdraft ★★★★
11.10pm-1.35am ITV 

Not really a traditional disaster movie but Ron Howard’s 1991 thriller (gosh, is it really that old?) draws on the same primal fear of fire that fuelled The Towering Inferno. Here, the emphasis is not on one dominant conflagration, but a string of arson attacks and a Chicago fire crew containing two Irish-American brothers, maverick Kurt Russell and wet-behind-the- ears William Baldwin. The “backdraft” gives sentient life to the fire through clever use of special effects and sound, while a whodunnit combines with civic corruption and action set pieces to keep the story alight. Robert De Niro is the arson investigator, Donald Sutherland a jailed pyromaniac, JT Walsh a cost-cutting public servant and the thrilling score is by Hans Zimmer (Gladiator). I guess it took 9/11 to really enshrine firefighters as heroes, but Backdraft taps presciently into that.


Dirty Harry ★★★★★
9.00-11.10pm ITV4 

Clint Eastwood dispenses rough justice with the aid of a .44 Magnum in the first outing for San Francisco’s own avenging angel.  


Valkyrie ★★★
11.00pm-1.15am Spike 

A tense, true story with a surprising turn from all-American hero Tom Cruise as a German officer with a bold plan to bump off Hitler. He’s backed by a sterling line-up of Brits.     


Flash Gordon ★★★
11.05pm-1.15am Film Four 

You can’t help but burst into the Queen anthem and films soundtrack whenever ‘Flash’ is mentioned. Embrace the corny performances and cheesy special effects in this big-budget fantasy flop.     


The Constant Gardener ★★★★
12.05-2.15am ITV3 

Not just a socially conscious thriller but a stirring love story with an Oscar-winning Rachel Weisz. But Ralph Fiennes carries it as the quiet man digging for answers about her death.    


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