So is Carol Reed’s The Third Man (Tuesday 22 December BBC4) – mystery and villainy in post-war Vienna, featuring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Trevor Howard. Marvellously atmospheric with great zither music by Anton Karas. One of the finest British films.
Meanwhile Skyfall (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day ITV2) is surely the best Bond movie yet, largely because M (Judi Dench) moves from her office to centre stage. Daniel Craig impresses as the best 007 after Connery and Javier Bardem is a splendid villain.
Connery, of course, made the role his own in the first Bond film Dr No (Christmas Day, New Year’s Day ITV) in which 007, sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another agent, encounters titular arch villain Joseph Wiseman, not to mention a bikini-clad Ursula Andress.
Thanks to Tom Stoppard’s screenplay, Shakespeare in Love (Tuesday 22 December C4) is a treat for those who cherish good dialogue. A mixture of high wit and low humour as Gwyneth Paltrow disguises herself as a boy to get close to the Bard (Joseph Fiennes) and land a part in his new play.
After the death of Princess Diana, while the nation rends its garments, The Queen (Tuesday 29 December ITV) – an Oscar-winning Helen Mirren – is made of sterner stuff. The grieving public doesn’t understand. HM is in danger of becoming unpopular until Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) –wouldn’t you know it? – steps in.
Enjoy. Happy Christmas.