TV preview: Chritmas films

Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp
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Allan Hunter previews the best films on TV over Christmas.


Lady And The Tramp

Christmas Eve, BBC1, 5.05pm

One of the great Disney charmers as scruffy mongrel Tramp falls head over paws in love with posh cocker spaniel Lady. Naturally, true love does not run smoothly for the star-crossed canines in this beautifully animated ­feature complete with a memorable spaghetti dinner and some lovely songs courtesy of Peggy Lee. (1955)


Christmas Day, STV, 3.10pm

Disney’s 50th animated feature brings some Broadway swagger to the traditional Rapunzel fairytale. Held captive in a tower the feisty lass is about to turn 18 when conceited, swashbuckling rogue Flynn comes to her rescue. Naturally, she wallops him a frying pan and resists his smouldering charm. Great fun. (2010)


Friday, BBC3, 7.20pm

Oscar-winning tonic of a film following Remy the rat as he pursues his dream of becoming a gourmet chef in Paris. The rain-sodden streets and foggy landmarks of the French capital are vividly drawn, the characters are expertly voiced and the story is completely captivating. Family entertainment of the highest order.(2007)



Christmas Day, More4, 5.55pm

Cynical, lone wolf café owner Humphrey Bogart rediscovers his nobler instincts when old flame Ingrid Bergman suddenly appears at his Casablanca watering hole. A flawless Hollywood romance blending witty dialogue, wartime heroics, memorable characters and a love affair that touches the heart. (1942) (b/w)

Love Actually

Saturday, STV, 9.30pm

Irresistible Richard Curtis heartwarmer as cupid’s arrow strikes a host of unsuspecting individuals in the days leading up to Christmas. Pure tearjerking schmaltz performed by a wonderful ensemble that includes Prime Minister Hugh Grant, irrepressible rock dinosaur Bill Nighy and stoical wife Emma Thompson. (2003)


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Boxing Day, Channel 4 10.30pm

Faithful adaptation of the Stieg Larsson bestseller compressing the twisting, complex plot into a darkly compelling, extremely violent whodunit. Noomi Rapace is perfectly cast as the computer hacker enlisted by disgraced journalist Michael Nyqvist to solve the mystery of a woman’s disappearance 40 years ago.(2009)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Friday, Sky Movies Premiere, 8pm

Robert Downey Jr’s increasingly manic Baker Street sleuth matches wits with that Napoleon of crime ­Moriarty (Jared Harris) in a frantic, freewheeling sequel. A complex conspiracy unfurls with breathless confidence in a swaggering, globe-trotting Victorian romp that diverts and ­delights. (2011)


In Bruges

Tonight, Channel 4, 11pm

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are the Laurel and Hardy of hitmen in this unruly, foul-mouthed gangster comedy. A botched kill finds them banished to Bruges where Gleeson is beguiled by the city and Farrell is bored out of his tiny mind. A day of reckoning is at hand in a savagely witty, surreal tale. (2008)

Couples Retreat

Christmas Day, STV, 10.45pm

Feeling their marriage is at a crisis point, Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell book quality time at an island ­resort specialising in couples counselling. Their best friends tag along ­expecting four-star luxury and ­pampering unaware that counselling is non-negotiable. A rare comedy in the Christmas schedules but just not a very good one. (2009)



Boxing Day, STV, 11.15pm

Immaculate, Oscar-winning adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel that oozes class from every frame. A dazzling story of doomed love and haunting regrets that combines an epic sweep with an intense, smouldering intimacy. James ­Mc­Avoy gives the stand-out performance. (2007)

Wuthering Heights

Saturday, Channel 4, 11.10pm

It is Emily Brontë but not as we know it in a raw, unrelentingly grim version of the oft-told tale from Red Road director Andrea Arnold, who emphasises the mud and misery of the 1800s. Handheld camerawork and poetic compositions capture the ­giddy, feral intensity of the doomed attraction between Cathy and Heathcliff. (2011)


The Birds

Thursday, ITV3, 11pm

After years of settling for crumbs and shallow garden baths, our fine feathered friends decide to wreak their revenge in this chilling Alfred Hitchcock version of a Daphne du Maurier tale. The effects are a little ropey these days but the basic unease remains as birds start to attack ­humans along the California coast. (1963)


Singin’ In The Rain

Christmas Day, BBC2, 1.35pm

BBC2 belatedly celebrates the centenary of the birth of Gene Kelly with a season of some of the finest musicals that Hollywood ever made. This witty excursion into the tricky transition period between silent movies and talking pictures is filled with showstoppers including an exuberant Kelly singing and dancing in the rain. (1952)


It’s A Wonderful Life

Sky Movies Classics, Christmas Eve, 7pm

Would it really be Christmas without at least one glimpse of this surprisingly dark Frank Capra heartwarmer? An Oscar-nominated James Stewart is the frustrated smalltown dreamer contemplating suicide until a kindly angel shows him how his life has touched the lives of so many ­others. 
If you see only one festive 
film, make sure it’s this one. (1946) (b/w)

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Christmas Day, BBC2, 1.30am

The great Charles Laughton died 50 years ago this month. BBC2’s tribute season all screen in the wee small hours of the morning but are well worth seeking out. Laughton gives one of his finest performances in this definitive version of the Victor Hugo novel offering an unforgettable Quasimodo that will break your heart. (1939) (b/w)

Gone With The Wind

Christmas Day, Channel 5, 9am

If you can persuade someone else to deal with the culinary demands of the day then 
this is the ultimate romantic wallow. A magnificent, Oscar-winning adaptation of the Margaret Mitchell Civil War epic with Vivien Leigh as the flighty Southern belle and Clark Gable as the man she loves and loses along the way. (1939)



Christmas Eve, BBC2, 3.55pm

Relentlessly perky British festive fare with Martin Freeman as a lonely primary school teacher who hates Christmas because that is when girlfriend Ashley Jensen dumped him for a new life in Hollywood. Naturally, he is the one chosen to direct the school nativity play. Scene-stealing moppets and a shaggy dog are the highlights. (2009)


Christmas Eve, Channel 5, 4.10pm

Alastair Sim is perfectly cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in one of the best versions of the Dickens tale. He captures every emotion of the character from stern-faced misery to a joyous redemption that seems to cascade from every fibre of his being. If this doesn’t get you in the mood for Christmas then nothing will. (1951) (b/w)


The Adventures Of Tintin: The ­Secret Of The Unicorn

Christmas Day, Sky Movies Premiere, 8pm

Rip-roaring family fun that affectionately salutes the warm glow of the traditional Hergé adventures. The intrepid boy reporter makes the acquaintance of booze-sodden Captain Haddock and is propelled into a desperate search for missing treasure. Plucky white terrier Snowy saves the day and steals the film. (2011)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Friday, BBC1, 3.30pm

Gangly charmer Jay Baruchel is the saving grace of this effects-driven blockbuster in which a young man discovers he is the only one who can prevent an evil, power-hungry fiend raising an army of the dead. His sweet performance is the most potent effect in this 1980s-style fantasy yarn co-starring Nicolas Cage. (2010) «