Taking the myth out of JFK

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 November, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 November, 1993, 12:00am

ALMOST 30 years after his death on November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy still casts a long shadow over American politics, and over modern mythology as speculation continues to run wild over his life and death.

A new four-part documentary series The Kennedys (Pearl 8.30pm) is a Thames Television production that attempts to take the myth out of JFK. It combines rarely seen footage and photographs from the Kennedy library with interviews with JFK's political colleagues, friends and many of the Kennedys themselves.

TERRY Gilliam uses his fertile imagination to great effect in the overblown, spectacularly dotty Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Pearl 9.30pm, Original Running Time 126 mins).

Ignore the gaping holes in the script, just enjoy the visual feast as the legendary tale spinner (John Neville) and his bizarre yarns come to life. The baron and his superhuman colleagues (who include Eric Idle) embark on an odyssey which introduces themto the King of the Moon (Robin Williams), love-lorn Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his stunning amour (Uma Thurman).

The story flags in parts, but is worth sticking with for grandiose scenes like an island which turns into a huge fish, a hot-air balloon made from underwear, and a ship sailing through a desert strewn with statues.

TOM Holland made an admirable directorial debut in 1985 with Fright Night (Pearl 1.20am, ORT 106 mins) a stylish shocker that's part spoof, part horror.

The story is a variation on the boy who cried wolf - the horror-mad lad being Charley (William Ragsdale) who's crying vampire, about his handsome new neighbour (Chris Sarandon) who has a way (and has away) with the ladies.

Of course no one believes Charley, but after much persuasion he enlists the help of former horror movie star Roddy MacDowall, who turns out be less courageous off-screen than he was on.

The characters are likeable, the music is right and the special effects (by Richard Edlund of Ghostbusters ) are appropriately over the top.

PETER Benchley's script for The Island (World 9.30pm, ORT 114 mins) is a lunatic venture which sees Michael Caine and his son on a Caribbean island being captured by a colony of throwbacks from an 18th-century pirate community. These bloodthirsty buccaneers are sterile from 300 years of inbreeding and Caine is appointed stud to the only fertile female left - it's a rotten job, but somebody has to do it.

Often unintentionally funny, this is utter tripe, but it's also surprisingly entertaining.

COMMERCIALS, those irritating things that cut into all the best moments in movies are the subject of discussion on Media Watch (World 7.30pm). Chris Kyme, co-chairman of the 4As Awards panel, will be in the studio to talk about the quality - or lack of it- of HK ads.

There's also a look at the territory's new Chinese paper, Hong Kong Today.

IN Film '93, (BBC 6.35pm), Barry Norman reviews the latest Merchant-Ivory production, The Remains of the Day, which stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The movie, based on Kazuo Ishiguro's award-winning novel is a reflection on the life of a butler in 1930s England, and the housekeeper who loves him.

Bazza also looks at The Concierge starring Michael J. Fox, Guilty as Sin with Don Johnson.