Best TV films: Wild Rose, The Dry, The Graduate, Sky

A fresh-faced Kevin Costner made the jump from B-movie wannabe to A-list star with this blockbusting thriller. He plays Elliot Ness, the FBI agent fighting underworld crime and police corruption in an effort to throw vicious gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) in the clink. Brian De Palma’s film may be one of the best gangster movies of all time, and there has never been a more stylish gunfight than in the stunning climax. But from the very start, this is a lesson in exquisite film-making, from the magnificent supporting cast (which includes Sean Connery, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as a no-nonsense cop) to the superb score, by way of some great dialogue and multi-layered characters.

Tuesday

Notorious, Talking Pictures TV, 9pm

The screen positively crackles with electricity whenever real-life friends Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant appear together in this wartime thriller, their first collaboration. A radiantly beautiful Bergman stars as a Nazi’s daughter who is blackmailed into marrying ruthless German collaborator Claude Rains – only to fall madly in love with US undercover spy Grant, who is supposed to be making sure she keeps her mind on the job in hand. As their affair develops, look out for what must surely be one of the most passionate of all screen clinches. In truth, the tale is rather confusing, but thanks to the skill of director Alfred Hitchcock and the charisma of its stars, the movie somehow manages to turn out as one of cinema history’s most memorable films.

Wednesday

Film of the Week

Wild Rose, Wednesday, Film 4, 9pm

Set in the city in which it was filmed – Glasgow – Wild Rose follows the ups and downs of country music obsessive Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), who dreams of making it big in Nashville but who we first meet preparing to be released from Cornton Vale women’s prison complete with ankle tag. ‘Don’t come back’ a warder shouts as she skips through the door to freedom, headphones on. Then it’s home to her disapproving mother Marion (Julie Walters) and her two young children, who barely seem to remember her.

If the ankle tag is supposed to ensure Rose-Lynn’s good behaviour, it doesn’t. Soon she’s causing trouble in the Grand Old Opry (the one on Govan Road, not the one in Nashville) when she finds out she has been replaced as the singer in the house band. Then she’s necking all the booze as she hoovers at the posh city house where she lands a job as a cleaner. It’s the home of Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) who, wouldn’t you know it, is a country fan as well.

When Susannah hears Rose-Lynn sing she agrees to help her realise her dream and raise the funds for the Nashville trip. Of course Rose-Lynn’s jailbird past and her own impetuous behaviour contrive to put a spanner in the works. As it is in the best country songs, so it is in Wild Rose: things just never go quite to plan.

It’s directed by Tom Harper, who cut his teeth on TV shows such as Peaky Blinders, Misfits and War And Peace, and written by Glasgow-born Nicole Taylor. She also penned the award-winning Three Girls, about the Rochdale grooming scandal. The songs are great, Buckley is as watchable as always and there’s a grittiness to the drama undercutting what is otherwise a pretty conservative narrative. Look out too for a great supporting cast which includes Jamie Sives, Craig Parkinson and Janey Godley.

Thursday

If …, GREAT! Movies Classic, 9pm

Lindsay Anderson’s cult 1968 satire is set in an English private school, where pupil Mick (Malcolm McDowell, in a role that served as an audition piece for A Clockwork Orange) is reluctant to conform to the archaic rules. But when the small acts of rebellion undertaken by him and his friends are met with harsh punishment, he resorts to more extreme measures. It’s very much of its time, but the parable remains powerful thanks in part to the charisma of the young McDowell and, of course, the shocking ending. Still, there’s something oddly charming too about seeing Arthur ‘Captain Mainwaring’ Lowe in among the surreal flourishes and calls for revolution. Anderson and McDowell reunited for O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital, which, along with If …, form a loose trilogy.

Friday

The Graduate, BBC One, 11.35pm

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has just graduated from college and is back at his parents’ home for the summer, with his whole life ahead of him. His parents would like him to get into the plastics industry, but Benjamin isn’t sure. He’s more interested in getting into bed with sexy neighbour Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), although it soon becomes clear that it’s her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) who holds the key to his heart. Director Mike Nichols’ 1967 comedy classic still stands the test of time. Hoffman may have been technically too old to play the lead role, but he doesn’t look it; the film turned him into a star after years of struggle. The superb Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack alone is worth tuning in for.

And one to stream …

The Dry, Sky Cinema

Adapted from Jane Harper’s 2016 best-seller of the same name, Robert Connolly’s 2020 film hits Sky Cinema with expectations high for a drama every bit as tense and moody as its source material. On the whole it doesn’t disappoint, thanks mainly to Eric Bana’s performance as introspective Melbourne detective Aaron Falk and a powerful supporting cast which includes Star Wars alumnus Genevieve O’Reilly, and veteran actors Julia Blake and Bruce Spence. Older viewers will recognise those two as (respectively) Nancy McCormack from Prisoner: Cell Block H and the gyro captain from Mad Max 2.

On the face of it, the premise isn’t exactly original: a violent death in the present brings back memories of a tragedy from two decades earlier and throws the protagonists into a slow-burn drama which turns on recrimination, regret, guilt and (of course) family and community secrets. Who did what to whom and why? Who lied then and who’s lying now?

The event which causes Falk to return to his hometown in rural Victoria is the death, apparently from suicide, of his childhood friend Luke Haddler. As well as shooting himself Luke has killed his wife and young son but inexplicably let his baby daughter live. At the funeral Aaron reconnects with old friend Gretchen (O’Reilly) and with Luke’s parents Barb and Gerry (Blake and Spence), but there’s a tension in the air which isn’t entirely down to the brutal nature of the Haddler family’s deaths.

Local cop Greg Raco (Keir O’Donnell) has made a cursory investigation but the verdict seems clear: murder-suicide. Barb and Gerry aren’t so sure, however, so they ask Aaron to stay on after the funeral to investigate. It’s the last thing Aaron wants to do. Twenty years earlier, he and his father were run out of town by the Deacon family who blamed Aaron for the death of Ellie Deacon, his friend and schoolmate, and the object of his teenage passion. Ellie, Aaron, Luke and Gretchen had been inseparable at the time. Was one of them a murderer?

Mal Deacon (William Zappa) and his son Grant (Matt Nable) have spent two decades blaming Aaron, so as soon as he’s settled into the grotty local hotel, posters go up around town with the word ‘Killer’ on them under his photograph. As his investigation into Luke’s death unearths secrets and falsehoods, flashbacks reveal Ellie’s fate. Against this background is the devastating drought which gives the film its title and its feel of a community about to erupt.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992