Black Narcissus, BBC Two, Saturday, 1.15pm

Whether you loved, loathed or (more likely) were completely underwhelmed by the BBC's adaptation of Rumer Godden's 1939 novel about a group of nuns trying to set up a school in a remote Himalayan palace, you'll find an interesting contrast in the much-admired 1947 film version.

Black Narcissus won an Oscar for its cinematography – the great Jack Cardiff was behind the camera – and it's thought by many to be the gem in the Powell and Pressburger portfolio, an already rich collection of films which includes I Know Where I'm Going, A Matter Of Life And Death, The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp and the resolutely peculiar A Canterbury Tale.

True? More or less, though in some senses Black Narcissus hasn't aged well. For a start only one of the four major Indian characters is played by an Indian actor (Sabu, as Dilip Rai). The others are played by blacked-up British actors in the shape of May Hallatt, Esmond Knight and, as Kanchi, Jean Simmons, fresh from playing Estella in David Lean's Great Expectations. There's a mannered shrillness to some of the performances, too. Audiences used to a more naturalistic style of acting will find it grating. Oh, and David Farrar's entrance as nunly lust object Mr Dean isn't the most prepossessing: he arrives on a tiny pony wearing tiny shorts, long legs almost trailing the ground. Great crinkly hair, though, when he does finally take of the ludicrous hat.

And yet there's still something mesmerising about the film, which contrasts the beauty and expansiveness of the surroundings with the nuns' taut interior lives and puts Dean at the centre of a love triangle featuring Deborah Kerr's Sister Clodagh and Kathleen Byron's Sister Ruth – a triangle where the love either remains unrequited or forms itself into a maddening obsession which will spin out of control in that iconic closing sequence on the dizzyingly high bell tower. If you want a film about sexually frustrated nuns losing it in a Himalayan hilltop retreat that used to be a prince's harem, this is the one for you. And ponder this as you view: Michael Powell initially wanted Greta Garbo for the Clodagh role before Glasgow-born Kerr came into the picture.


The Dressmaker, Channel 4, 11.40pm

Based on the bestseller by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a 1950s-set comedy drama threaded with lustrous strands of revenge, redemption and mother-daughter bonding. At the tender age of 10, Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage (Kate Winslet) is implicated in the death of a schoolboy. The girl is banished from her sleepy, close-knit (fictional) hometown of Dungatar, Australia, and finds her calling as a seamstress in Paris. When her single mother Molly (Judy Davis) falls ill, Tilly returns to Dungatar laden with her trusty Singer sewing machine and a fierce desire to exact delicious revenge on the people who labelled her a murderer. Her return piques the interest of Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving) and footballer Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth), whose family has been keeping an eye on Molly.


Enter The Dragon, ITV4, 11.25pm

When powerful crime lord Han (Shih Kien) decides to hold a martial arts tournament on his private island, Lee (Bruce Lee) is persuaded by a British intelligence to enter in the hope he can gather evidence that it's a front for drug-trafficking and prostitution. To give him an added incentive, Lee also discoverers that the kingpin's employees include the man who killed his sister. Once he arrives on the island, Lee is forced to fight for his life alongside two Vietnam veterans, (John Saxon and Jim Kelly). One of the best and most iconic martial arts movies ever made, this was Bruce Lee's final completed film (it was released after his death) and a fitting tribute to his talents. Genre legends Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo can be glimpsed among the supporting cast.


A Most Wanted Man, Film 4, 11.45pm

Chechen refugee Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) enters Hamburg illegally, eventually making contact with Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), who is head of the private bank used by Issa's sadistic father to store his ill-gotten coffers. German intelligence operative Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his team identify Issa as an escaped militant jihadist. They choose not to arrest him but use Issa as bait to snag Muslim academic and philanthropist Dr Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who is suspected of channelling funds to terrorist organisations. Based on John le Carre’s 2008 novel, and screening in tribute to the spy master, who died late last year, A Most Wanted Man is a slow-burning espionage thriller which builds to a nerve-jangling finale. Hoffman, in one of his final roles, delivers a typically understated yet riveting performance.


Mrs Brown, BBC 4, 9pm

It's been more than two years since Prince Albert died, but Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) is still in the depths of depression and unmoved by public obligations. In the desperate hope that a breath of fresh air may dispel her gloom and thereby quell republican sentiments, John Brown (Billy Connolly) is summoned from Balmoral with the Queen's nag. What follows, however, is the last thing staid Private Secretary (Geoffrey Palmer) had in mind, as the Scot develops a close and exclusive relationship with HRH, leading to rumours of a scandalous affair. Thanks to strong performances, this period drama is a good deal more gutsy and compelling than the subject matter might lead you to expect, and it also reigns above the more recent, very similar Victoria & Abdul.


Gladiator, Channel 5, 10pm

Director Ridley Scott collected five Oscars, including Best Picture for this muscular and gore-laden sword and sandals epic, which is always worth a watch. The hero of the day is Maximus (Russell Crowe), a general in the army of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), who is adored as much by his men as he is by the Emperor. Conniving heir to the throne Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) murders the Emperor in a fit of jealousy and orders the immediate execution of gallant Maximus, the sole threat to his rule. The hulking hero escapes with his life and is forced into slavery, training as a gladiator under the debonair Proximo (Oliver Reed). Crowe shoulders leading man duties with relish, lending Maximus an unexpected emotional depth and complexity opposite Reed in his final performance.


Young Adult, BBC One, 11.30pm

Juno writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman reunited for this sharp, pitch-black comedy. Former high-school queen bee Mavis Gary (a fearless Charlize Theron) is now a hard-drinking writer who makes her living penning a series of Sweet Valley High-style teenage novels that is about to be discontinued due to waning popularity. Desperate for creative inspiration for the final book, Mavis is distracted by an email from her teenage boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) announcing the birth of their daughter. Convinced that this is a sign from the universe, Mavis travels to her hometown of Mercury, determined to show Buddy that even though he may be under the impression that he's happily married, he really belongs with her.

And one to stream …

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Netflix

Adapted from August Wilson’s acclaimed 1982 play and dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, who died during post-production, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set in Chicago in 1927 and follows an afternoon in the life of Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey, a bisexual whirlwind known as the Mother of the Blues and one of the first black women to record such standards as See-See Rider Blues and Bo-Weevil Blues. Her signature tune, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, gives both play and film their title.

The action takes place largely in two rooms of a Chicago recording studio – the studio itself and the rehearsal room downstairs to which Ma’s band are sent until Ma turns up. Like all stars, Ma runs on her own time, so pianist Toledo (Glynn Turman), trombone player Cutler (Colman Domingo), double bassist Slow Drag (Michael Potts) and trumpeter Levee (Boseman) play music, talk, drink, laugh and argue while they wait. Levee is young, talented, impetuous, impatient for his chance at stardom and eager to shake up the music scene with fresh sounds. The older hands just want the promised recording fee – preferably in dollars so they don’t have to travel half the city trying to cash a cheque. White Chicagoans assume that if a black man has a cheque, he must have stolen it. Stories about racism and examples of it – the hush that descends on a delicatessen when the boys are sent out for cokes, for example – are never far from the audience experience, though it’s testament to Wilson’s play and Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s adaptation that it’s all done with a deft touch.

In many ways it’s Boseman’s film. The crushing climax belongs to him and there’s a wonderful moment when the rehearsal room exit door he has been worrying at for hours and which he eventually manages to open turns out to lead instead to a small, walled off space looking for all the world like a prison cell. But that would be to do a disservice to the great Viola Davis as Ma Rainey. Big, ballsy, sweaty and sweary, she turns up with girlfriend Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige) and stuttering nephew Sylvester (Dusan Brown) in tow and turns in a bravura performance which the Academy Awards committee would be mad to overlook. Oscars so white? Not this year, I suspect.