NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Sept. 2. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Monday, Sept. 3, 5:15-7:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Prince and the Showgirl" (1957). Fluffy romantic comedy from Terence Rattigan's play about the urbane regent (Laurence Olivier) of a Balkan kingdom who arrives in London for the 1911 coronation of George V and falls for a dizzy American chorus girl (Marilyn Monroe). Also directed by Olivier, the contrast between the cynical prince and the not-so-innocent starlet is obvious but fun, with some witty jabs at stuffy English characters (notably Richard Wattis) and daffy asides by the Balkan Queen Mother (Sybil Thorndike who steals every scene she's in). Sexual situations and innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Tuesday, Sept. 4, 5:30-8 p.m. EDT (AMC) "3:10 to Yuma" (2007). Generally absorbing remake of the 1957 film, based on an Elmore Leonard story, about an impoverished 1880s rancher (Christian Bale) who, for $200, agrees to escort a notorious Bible-quoting bandit (Russell Crowe) to the train that will transport him to prison and justice before the outlaw's gang can rescue him. The narrative -- diffuse at first -- becomes more cohesive and gripping as director James Mangold's Western throwback builds to its climax, and the performances, including Ben Foster as the outlaw's wild-eyed henchman and Peter Fonda as a corrupt bounty hunter, are fine. There are also interesting moral issues at play, as the charming villain offers to bribe the rancher who's hoping for personal redemption, particularly in the eyes of his 14-year-old son (Logan Lerman) impressed by the criminal. Pervasive but not graphic violence and torture, killings, profanity, rough language, a grisly bullet removal, brief rear nudity and some light sexual talk. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Thursday, Sept. 6, 7:30-9:15 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Legally Blonde" (2001). Determined to dazzle the boyfriend (Matthew Davis) who dumped her for a smarter girl, a flighty sorority coed (Reese Witherspoon) ends up attending Harvard Law School alongside him. As directed by Robert Luketic, Witherspoon makes the predictable, frivolous film stand out even when the lighthearted "dumb blonde" jokes fade. Some mild sexual references with a smattering of crass language and an instance of profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Thursday, Sept. 6, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961). Fine screen version of the Lorraine Hansberry play about a young black man in a Chicago slum (Sidney Poitier) whose ambitions to get ahead in the world come into conflict with the values of his mother (Claudia McNeil in a remarkable performance). What keeps this story about the evils of racial segregation from being dated is that director Daniel Petrie and a very capable cast have focused their energies on depicting human aspirations common to all and transcending limits of plot and period. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (HBO) "The Greatest Showman" (2017). Marital fidelity and family values in general are emphasized in this big, brash musical based on the life of pop entertainment pioneer P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman). The 19th-century impresario's rise from poverty to worldwide fame is facilitated by his well-bred wife (Michelle Williams) and equally genteel partner (Zac Efron). But tensions arise when he shifts his focus from the cast of social outsiders who perform under his auspices to concentrate on backing the American premiere of Swedish diva Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). Director Michael Gracey's feature debut, which also stars Zendaya as the African-American trapeze artist with whom Efron's character shares a convention-defying romance, is historically naive in its backward projection of contemporary values onto Victorian-era America, and its brassy score, though well-suited to its subject matter, will best please those who appreciate the Lloyd-Webber style of Broadway and West End theater. Still, though unlikely to engage the youngest viewers, the film is appropriate for most others. Some nonlethal violence, a mild oath, a racial slur. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.