WAR fixation continues with Tora! Tora! Tora! (World, 9.35pm) and The Devil's Brigade (Pearl, 9.30pm).
Both channels have a number of these shaky old dramas cluttering up their vaults and are wont to show them at the slightest provocation.
If you are waiting for me to make a choice between the two you will need the patience of a stone. Tora! Tora! Tora! sticks close to the facts, but is calcified; The Devil's Brigade stars William Holden (Love Is A Many Splendored Thing ) and is a flagrant rip-off of The Dirty Dozen, supposedly about the formation of the elite group of soldiers which would later become the Green Berets.
The Devil's Brigade was made in 1968, when Hollywood was beginning to suffer combat fatigue after three decades of war films. The plot concerns a soft-spoken, allegedly intellectual US officer (Holden) who is asked to mould a platoon of thugs and misfits into a band of crack commandos. This he does, and is then asked to lead them into a decisive battle to capture the supposedly impregnable Mount La Difensa in Italy.
As a film The Devil's Brigade is not distinguished. As an entertainment, it consists of the usual training, scenes, combat scenes and conflagrations. Among the co-stars are Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards and Michael Rennie.
And so to the other one, Tora! Tora! Tora! which includes a dramatic recreation of the attack on Pearl Harbour, but too much ponderous scene-setting in the build-up. Its problem is that much of the action is studio-bound and in danger of coagulating long before anything happens. The film has much fidelity to fact, but in trying to be sympathetic to both Japanese and Americans it ends up with no heroes, no villains, no drama and no suspense.
BRING Back the ribald Keith Floyd. Never had I appreciated cookery shows until I saw his. Watching Eating Well (World, 6.30pm), which this evening travels to Salzburg, I understand why. Burt Wolf, the host, presumes we are all simpletons. Episodes are generally given the title of the place they use as a setting. Hence we have Eating Well In Los Angeles, Eating Well In Hamburg or Eating Well In Hong Kong. This episode is titled Eating Well In Salzburg, Austria. The 'Austria' has been added for those who might presume Mr Wolf is talking about another Salzburg, the one in Scotland perhaps, or Sichuan Province.
IN Inspector Morse - Service Of All The Dead (STAR Plus, 9pm) Morse (John Thaw) has five bodies on his hands, one of which belongs to a local church warden and is found slumped over the vestry with a knife in its back. Men of the cloth with something to hide have always been grist for the mill to British whodunnit writers. Give me a dollar for every dead vicar in the history of crime fiction and I'll show you a wealthy man. Kevin Whately co-stars, as Morse's assistant, Lewis.
For Your Entertainment (STAR Plus, 2.30am) looks at Apollo 13, the film about the space mission that nearly turned to disaster. Ron Howard, star of the television series Happy Days, which featured Henry Winkler as The Fonz, directed. Among the stars, who were made to fly on a gravity-free aircraft to film the space scenes, are Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon. Bacon tells a good story about the number of sick bags he got through.
HIGHLIGHTS of films on Cable Movie Channel: Blood And Sand (1pm). Cocky young bullfighter achieves success in the ring and forsakes loving wife for sexy siren. Spanish production from 1989 with Sharon Stone as the siren. Authentic locations and good bullfighting footage compensate for a certain amount of predicability. Features a number of hot sex scenes.
Texasville (7pm). Peter Bogdanovich's mildly diverting sequel to The Last Picture Show, from Larry McMurty's novel, reveals that time has turned a number of leading characters into Texas caricatures, goddammit. Good cast includes Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Timothy Bottoms and Randy Quaid, all from the original.