Mona Lisa Smile, The Towering Inferno, Dead Birds: films on TV today

Julia Roberts spouts the F-word (that's feminism, by the way), Steve McQueen and Paul Newman get all toastie, and the kid from ET is all grown up and taking on ghosts and ghoulies: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 
Mona Lisa Smile ★★★
6.35-9.00pm Movie Mix 

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If you’re in the mood for an “inspirational teacher” movie, this 2003 period tale set in the fetching, well-to-do environs of Wellesley, Massachusetts, could do the trick. Directed by Mike Newell, it stars Julia Roberts as an idealistic new art teacher arriving in the mid-50s at the real-life Wellesley College who ruffles faculty feathers by disregarding the syllabus in favour of free-thinking at a time when even educated rich girls were in training to be good wives. Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal are among her initially recalcitrant students, and a pre-Wire Dominic West the war-hero language prof who pursues her. It’s all decorous and leafy, and – unless you desire surprises – is a warm, female-centric way to spend an evening.


Hard Rain ★★★
11.35pm-1.10am BBC1

If torrential rain and floods wasn’t enough for small-town America, along comes a gang to rob an armoured car in this far-fetched but entertaining thriller.


The Towering Inferno ★★★★
3.10-6.20pm Film Four 

In the days before CGI they really used to set fire to actors and buildings. Not really. But the star-studded cast (including Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and William Holden), terrific effects, and a script by Stirling Silliphant, writer of The Poseidon Adventure and The Swarm (erm, yeah, ok) combine to make this a thoroughly entertaining disaster tale from the golden era of the 1970s.


Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World ★★★★
6.20-9.00pm Film Four 

Russell Crowe runs a tight ship in this seafaring epic where the testosterone flows just as violently as the oceans around Cape Horn. Paul Bettany offers firm support as the medic.


Dead Birds ★★★
10.10pm-12 midnight Movies4Men 

In this creepy horror thriller it’s dodgy Confederate soldiers rather than dumb teens with perfect t & t that fall foul of  supernatural forces when they take refuge in an abandoned house.


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