No highway to heaven

Teri Fitsell

HERE we are at the start of the long Easter weekend, and incredibly, there's not a Hollywood epic to be seen. Nary so much as a glimpse of Hedy Lamarr lopping off Victor Mature's hair; nor Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea; and John Wayne doesn't even get to mutter, ''Surely this was the son of Gahd''. Cowabunga! IT gets better: among a mixed bag of strictly non-epic movies there's a smasher in The Grand Highway (World 9.30pm, ORT 104 mins) made en France.

Originally called Le Grand Chemin, it's the story of a Parisian boy billeted in a Breton village in 1959 while his mother gives birth.

The boy (played by Antoine Hupert, son of the director Jean-Loup Hupert) is dumped into the unhappy household of Marcelle (Anemone) and Pelo (Richard Bohringer). She's getting over the death of their child, he's a drunk, and they vie for the boy's affection.

His salvation is the village tomboy (Vanessa Guedj) who introduces him to the mysteries of children's and adults' games.

LATER, there's a chance to see King Hu's classic film The Touch of Zen (World 12.25, ORT 175 mins), though it might be better to tape the first half tonight and watch it just before the second half being shown next Friday.

The story's about a fugitive lass taking revenge for the death of her father who's been tortured to death by the eunuch-controlled Eastern Group.

What is extraordinary about the film is that it spreads itself out in space and time, through three distinct narrative sections, which describe it first in personal, then political and finally religious terms.

King Hu's inventive treatment of the story won the Grand Prix for Technique Superieur at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.

NOT so good is Nothing But Trouble (Pearl 9.45pm, ORT 93 mins) which has a promising cast - Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy - but is basically nothing but rubbish.

Aykroyd has to take much of the blame since he not only stars - admittedly almost unrecognisably as a despotic judge - but also wrote and directed this bomb.

Chase and Moore get nabbed for speeding in a small town from hell, and then spend most of the movie trying to escape. Candy is quite amusing when he's playing the judge's granddaughter, but otherwise this is one where only a full lobotomy might enhance viewing.

STRAIGHT from the ''if it ain't broken don't mend it'' school of film comes Roman Holiday (World 1.25pm, ORT 100 mins). Catherine Oxenberg and Tom Conti try, and fail, to fill the shoes of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in this 1987 remake of the 1953 classic about a runaway princess and a reporter.

IF the children awake early, sit them in front of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (STAR Plus 8.30 am), a children's ballet based on May Gibbs' books about bush creatures and performed by the Australian Ballet School.