Gere's surface charm
RICHARD Gere, that fatuous ham who is happily married to Cindy Crawford but getting divorced anyway, is none too pretty in Pretty Woman (Pearl, 9.30pm).
He, and director Garry Marshall, the sophisticated talent who gave us Laverne And Shirley, come a cropper in this happy hooker harangue.
Julia Roberts fares no better. Her goofy good looks and giggly charm have a certain glimmer about them, rather like expensively wrapped Christmas chocolates, but she, like Gere, is a performer of considerable shallowness. Both of them are dazzled by their own effervescence.
Gere's performance - he plays the wealthy slime-ball who falls for good time girl Julia - is strictly paint-by-numbers. It is supposed to be a fairytale, but whose? Pretty Woman will offend millionaires and prostitutes everywhere. The script is silly and Gere shows much too much of his body - far more than Ms Roberts shows of hers.
Some Like It Hot (Pearl, 2.00pm) shows Pretty Woman a thing or two about comedy. Unemployed musicians Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis witness the St Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago and flee in drag to Miami with an all-girl band.
This is perhaps the best authentic capturing of roaring 20s atmosphere ever put on film. Lemmon, Curtis and co-star Marilyn Monroe are all dazzling, although Curtis later compared kissing the blonde bombshell to kissing Hitler. She was, to her credit, pregnant at the time and would lose the baby shortly after filming was wrapped up in the summer of 1959.
Other Hot trivia: Curtis' drag voice was dubbed, Joe E. Brown's closing line is one of the funniest in cinema, and the film inspired a Broadway musical called Sugar (taken from Monroe's name in the film - Sugar Kane).
THE western The Long Riders (Pearl, 2.40am) does not spare us the violence, but is a must for adult fans of the genre. It's a nitty-gritty re-telling of the story of the James-Younger gang, the most notorious American bandits of the 19th century. They begin by robbing a bank, go their separate ways, then get together again for a disastrous attempt to pull off one last big job.
In a unique bit of casting the Younger, James, Miller and Ford brothers are played by the real-life Carradine, Keach, Quaid and Guest brothers. The cinematography is magnificent, the period beautifully recreated and the Ry Cooder score nicely incorporates the music of the era.
AS far as half-decent films go that leaves The Hollywood Detective (World, 11.00am), They Made Me A Criminal (STAR Plus, 2.00pm) and The Hunger (World, 12.40am). The first stars the late Telly Savalas doing a send-up of his Kojak role; the second is a Busby Berkeley special, with Claude Rains miscast as a Dick Tracy type; and the third is something of a mess, with David Bowie as the friend of a vampire. It does, however, feature Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in bed together, which must be someone's idea of a good time.
MORE hams, fatuous and otherwise, in The 31st Annual Golden Horse Awards (World, 9.30pm). This is the event everyone calls Taiwan's equivalent to the Oscars - because it is Taiwan's equivalent to the Oscars. Anybody who is anybody will be there, as will many people who are nobody. Chungking Express and Red Rose, White Rose are among the front-runners for big gongs. Joan Chen is bound to get an award for something.
SATURDAY Theatre on STAR's Chinese Channel at 9.30pm is The Woman's Choice, one of those enigmatic Japanese dramas about women's liberation from the country that did for women's lib what chopsticks did for the rainforest. The synopsis makes things a little clearer, but not much. Chizuru Kobayashi is a 23-year-old office worker who is bored with life as a salarywoman. She quits, leaves the big city, and heads off to see the world, or at least the Japanese seaside. Along the way she meets two handsome young men (Takayuki Suzuki and Junich Kimura).