The Specialist, Shakespeare in Love, Never Say Never Again: films on TV today

Sly Stallone gets explosive, Joseph Fiennes gets amorous, Sean Connery gets back to Bond: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


The Specialist ★★★
11.45pm-2.00am ITV4 


A decent supporting cast including James Woods and Rod Steiger may help to distract you from the fact that this is a straightforward vehicle for Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone – he, looking for something to do after Rocky V; she, still hot after Basic Instinct. It’s centred around Stallone’s former CIA bomb expert hired by Stone’s femme fatale to kill the mafiosi who made her an orphan, and things get complicated when Stallone’s former CIA buddy (Woods) turns out to have gone over to the dark side. If you remember the movie’s cinema release, you’ll recall a lot of fuss about the Sly/Sharon sex scene. Never watch a film for its sex scene.

Shakespeare in Love ★★★★★
1.30-4.00am Film4 

A romantic and very funny flight of fancy, this Oscar-winning treat has the Bard of Avon (Joseph Fiennes) fall for his Romeo – noblewoman in disguise Gwyneth Paltrow. Judi Dench nabbed an Oscar for her beautifully pitched – and remarkably brief – performance as Queen Elizabeth.

Never Say Never Again ★★★
9.05-11.45pm ITV4 

Sean Connery is brought back to his iconic role for this unofficial 007 episode, which sees him hunting for a couple of nuclear warheads that Spectre has stolen. He carries the action and the irony with equal aplomb; the title being a play on his reported declaration in 1971 that he would “never again” play Bond.

French Kiss ★★★
6.45-9.00pm Movie Mix 

All a bit lightweight compared to director Lawrence Kasdan’s usual output (The Big Chill, Silverado), but this romantic tale starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline still has bags of charm. Kasdan and Kline have now made six films together: “It’s fun with him,” Kasdan claims. “There’s no fighting. You’re laughing half the time.”

Beach Red ★★★★
2.00-4.00pm Spike 


This tough war drama sees a Japanese-held island attacked by a unit of US marines. Directed by star Cornel Wilde, it takes a bold anti-war stance, and is ahead of its time for treating the enemy sympathetically.  The film’s title is that of the beach on Leyte Island, Philippines, from where, in 1944, US General MacArthur fulfilled his “We will return” promise from two years previously.

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