BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
William Wyler’s Roman epic that established Charlton Heston’s career and won him his Oscar. He is the eponymous Ben-Hur, the Judean prince betrayed by his powerful Roman friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) and condemned to life as a galley slave from which he escapes by saving Roman admiral Jack Hawkins in a shipwreck. From there it’s on to Rome where, adopted by the grateful Hawkins, Ben trains as a charioteer, after which he returns to Judea to help his fellow Jews and seek vengeance. Oh, and there’s a subplot which involves the last days of Christ. Cracking good stuff, which won 11 Oscars and is best remembered for one of the most spectacular scenes in cinema — the climactic chariot race. Wyler got the award for best director but he should really have shared it with his assistant Andrew Marton and stunt master Yakima Canutt for it was they, not Wyler, who arranged and filmed the chariot race. Chuck is on top heroic form.
The World’s Fastest Indian ★★★★
In this fact-based adventure yarn, Anthony Hopkins stars as (insert patronising word of your choice for someone over 60 who amazes the world by not being a total veg) New Zealander Burt Munro, who travels with his beloved motorbike to Utah to make an attempt on the world land-speed record.
Western starring Kevin Kline and Scott Glenn that takes every genre cliche and good idea and blends them into a tasty dish of corrupt ranchers, terrorised innocents and real men out for revenge. And it has Basil Fawlty on a horse. What’s not to like?
The final chapter sees Shrek tricked by Rumpelstiltskin — a devilishly funny tale featuring a mangy Donkey, an overgrown Puss, and black, witch-filled skies.
The Hunger Games ★★★★
9.00-11.45pm Film Four
The bestselling futuristic teen trilogy begins its movie adaptation in thrilling style with this vivid story of a reality TV show that pits youngsters in a fight to the death.