Guys And Dolls, BBC Two, 1.30pm

Famed New York gambler Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) sets out to charm Salvation Army temperance crusader Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) to win a bet – only to end up taking a genuine shine to her. Meanwhile, the man who made the wager, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra), has problems of his own as he tries to find a venue for his floating craps game and fob off his fiancée Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), who is keen to set a date following a 14-year engagement. Guys And Dolls is one of the all-time great musicals, and although this film may disappoint die-hard fans of the stage version by changing some of the score, it retains enough brilliant songs to please everyone else. As you’d expect, Sinatra does a great job as Nathan, but the real surprise is Brando, who is charismatic and tuneful as Sky. No wonder Sarah finds him hard to resist.


Four Weddings And A Funeral, Film 4, 11.05pm

Until his star turn in Paddington II, this was probably Hugh Grant’s finest moment on the big screen and, nearly three decades after its original release, it’s still great fun. Has it dated? Sure, but who cares. Grant plays posh urbanite Charles, unmarried best man to posh friends Angus and Laura, and the film follows him and his bunch of kooky (and mostly posh) mates through three other weddings and a funeral. American actress Andie MacDowell – then red hot having just starred in Groundhog Day and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts – plays Carrie and there’s a stellar supporting cast in Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, John Hannah, the wonderful Anna Chancellor and the late Charlotte Coleman.


12 Years A Slave, Film 4, 9pm

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lives with his family in 1841 Washington City. Following a meeting with two seemingly respectable gentlemen, Solomon is sold into slavery. His first master, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), is kind up to a point, but fate soon delivers the lead character to sadistic Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). This master spites his unfeeling wife (Sarah Paulson) by taking a shine to one of the slave girls, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o). Solomon is caught in the crossfire. Based on Northup's autobiography of the same name, 12 Years A Slave made a big splash at the Oscars, and deservedly so. Steve McQueen’s bravura third feature is a sensitive yet unflinching portrait of suffering that delivers its message of brutality and endurance with the full force of a sledgehammer to the solar plexus.


Film of the Week

Picnic At Hanging Rock, Thursday, Film 4, 11.25pm

With its influence clear to see on the work of film directors and fashion designers – hello Sofia Coppola, hello Raf Simons – Peter Weir’s weird and dreamy 1975 film is rightly considered a cult classic. Adapted from Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, it revels in ambiguity and misdirection as it tells the story of three Australian schoolgirls who disappear on a trip to a strange rock formation in the Australian state of Victoria on Valentine’s Day 1900. What starts out as a picnic for the prim and proper girls of Appleyard College turns into a mystery which destroys lives and perplexes and intrigues in equal measure.

Weir lets the eeriness unspool slowly. The first inkling that something is off comes when teacher and chaperone Miss McCraw (Vivean Gray) finds her watch has stopped at exactly noon. Coachman Ben (Martin Vaughan) has exactly the same problem with his trusty timepiece. As stabs of dissonance from Bruce Smeaton’s electronic score begin to replace the classical-based soundtrack – Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart all feature at some point – four of the girls decide to climb Hanging Rock. They are Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert), Marion (Jane Vallis), Edith (Christine Schuler) and Irma (Karen Robson). Arriving near the top, they look down on their classmates lying languidly in the shade and wonder who they are. They climb higher and three of them disappear. It’s only when Edith comes tearing out of the undergrowth that the alarm is raised – though Edith can remember nothing. Local bobby Sergeant Bumpher (Wyn Roberts) co-ordinates the search, questions the two other people who saw the girls – Michael Fitzhubert (Dominic Guard), English son of a local dignitary, and the Fitzhubert’s rough-and-ready Australian groom, Albert (John Jarratt) – and tries unsuccessfully to piece it all together.

A time loop? Witch-craft? Some kind of mass psychosis? Potential answers circle around each other, though Weir doesn’t give us anything as helpful as the paper trail Michael Fitzhubert leaves when he undertakes a solo mission to the rock in search of Miranda. Though he only ever glimpsed her, he’s now obsessed with her memory – a pretty good description of the effect this film has had on generations of viewers ever since.


Zodiac, BBC Two, 11.20pm

In the sweltering summer of 1969, a serial killer known as Zodiac terrorised the Bay Area of San Francisco. David Fincher’s exhaustively researched thriller follows the efforts of four men – homicide detectives Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), charismatic San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr) and the paper's shy cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) – to bring Zodiac's reign of terror to an end. The men become obsessed with unmasking Zodiac, following the trail of clues for decades. Director Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) once again demonstrates his visual flair with some brilliantly orchestrated set pieces. Gyllenhaal takes top billing but this is Downey Jr’s film as the glory-chasing newsman who almost loses his sanity in the pursuit of a headline. Riveting.

And one to stream …

21 Bridges, Amazon Prime

Starring the late Chadwick Boseman (pictured below) recently honoured with a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, this film from Game Of Thrones director Brian Kirk takes place over the course of a single frantic night and sees Manhattan put into lockdown – not, however, for the reason you might imagine. Shot in 2018 and released a year later, this is strictly a pre-pandemic, bad-guys-on-the-loose sort of lockdown. The bridges of the title are the ones off the island.


Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges

Boseman is New York detective Andre Davis who, when we first meet him, is facing a tribunal tasked with figuring out why he keeps shooting people. The son of a policeman who was himself killed in the line of duty, there’s a suspicion that he’s a trigger-happy killer out for revenge on anyone he deems transgressive. Just in case we think he is exactly that, we then see him returning home to care for his elderly mother, a dementia sufferer. Subtle, no? No.

The bad guys on the loose are ex-Marines Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) and Mike Trujillo (Stephan James), who are hired to muscle in on a late-night drug deal and steal the goodies. Only there’s 10 times as much cocaine as they’re expecting and, when a squad of police officers unexpectedly turns up, the mother of all shoot-outs to boot. Result? Eight dead officers, several wrecked cars, spent cartridges on a scale even Arnie’s Terminator would call prodigious and the biggest manhunt in recent New York history. Enter Andre, who’s given a sidekick – narcotics cop Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) – and five hours to hunt down the cop-killers. Which is why he shuts the bridges off the island. All 21 of them.

Produced by Marvel veterans the Russo brothers and with a script co-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, who also penned Dark Waters for Todd Haynes, it’s high octane stuff. Boseman and Miller make a decent double act and there’s stellar support from Whiplash star JK Simmons as precinct boss Captain McKenna. There’s a welcome helping of moral ambiguity too: Trujillo isn’t quite the rogue we think he is, and not all of Davis’s fellow officers see the law in as stark black and white terms as he does.