From Calm With Horses to Cape Fear: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Cosmo Jarvis is among the stellar performers in a bruising Irish drama, and Scorsese and De Niro reunite in a wildly nasty revenge thriller remake

Pick of the week
Calm With Horses

Three exceptional young actors carry Nick Rowland’s brooding tale of restricted horizons and brutal circumstance in rural Ireland. Cosmo Jarvis is a hulking presence as Arm, an ex-boxer now subsisting as the muscle for his friend/boss Dympna (Barry Keoghan), a junior member of a violent criminal family. Arm has an autistic son with Niamh Algar’s Ursula, but she hates what he has become and is keen to escape her insular, backwater life. Jarvis gives a superbly measured performance, seemingly punch-drunk and pliable but with a maelstrom of emotion swirling just below the surface. A stark drama whose tragedy is made all the sadder by its glimmers of hope.
Wednesday 27 April, 9pm, Film4


Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House

Continuing the channel’s season of RKO pictures, HC Potter’s 1948 comedy gives us Cary Grant in his prime. His trademark impotent indignation is in full force as a New York ad executive, living with his family in a cramped flat, whose new fixer-upper in rural Connecticut turns into a big ol’ money pit. Physical comedy and marital strife (with Myrna Loy’s patient wife) ensue, with Melvyn Douglas getting all the best lines as their wittily exasperated best friend and reluctant lawyer.
Thursday 28 April, 9pm, BBC Four


The Toll

Michael Smiley’s softly spoken toll-booth operator doesn’t seem that interesting. But when a figure from his dark past bumps into him accidentally, his hush-hush criminal operation in a remote corner of Pembrokeshire is brought to the attention of the area’s one honest copper (Annes Elwy). Ryan Andrew Hooper’s comic twist on the spaghetti western offers an array of Ealing-esque eccentrics (female Elvis impersonator; triplet robbers; paramedic/dogging devotee) but it’s the more underplayed scenes between Smiley and Elwy that give the enterprise its necessary depth.
Friday 29 April, Amazon Prime Video


Funny Girl

“So she looks a bit off balance /She possesses golden talents.” Bob Merrill’s lyrics are as much a description of the film’s lead, Barbra Streisand, as its subject, Fanny Brice – the Jewish New York performer who became a star with the Zeigfeld Follies in the early 20th century. In William Wyler’s sumptuous 1968 musical, Streisand (in her Oscar-winning film debut) owns the screen, committed to Brice’s comic pratfalls but capable of belting out the big, heartfelt numbers. Omar Sharif makes for an interesting contrast as her beau, suave gambler Nick.
Saturday 23 April, 2.05pm, BBC Two



With the sad news of Bruce Willis’s retirement, here’s a tribute in the form of Rian Johnson’s cunning 2012 sci-fi thriller, which offers two Bruces for the price of one … sort of. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, an assassin in 2044 who kills people sent back in time by his mob bosses from 2074 – when time travel has been invented. If his sardonic smirk and smudged nose look familiar, that’s because he is the youthful version of Willis’s character, not yet burdened by real love and loss. But when old Joe materialises as his next hit, young Joe faces a mortal dilemma.
Saturday 23 April, 9pm, Great! Movies


The Ox-Bow Incident

Anthony Quinn, Francis Ford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda, Frank Conroy and Jane Darwell in The Ox-Bow Incident.
Anthony Quinn, Francis Ford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda, Frank Conroy and Jane Darwell in The Ox-Bow Incident. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

One of Clint Eastwood’s favourite films, William A Wellman’s tightly plotted 1942 western has a moral complexity that would fit well beside its star Henry Fonda’s later 12 Angry Men. Fonda plays a cowboy who is swept up in a town’s inchoate rage following rumours of rustling and murder. A mob mentality quickly takes hold and a lynching party is formed, but when the supposed criminals are tracked down, doubts form as to exactly whose justice is being served. A sobering story about what happens when emotion trumps reason.
Wednesday 27 April, 3.15pm, Talking Pictures TV


Cape Fear

Martin Scorsese’s 1991 film is a brash, steroid-pumped remake of J Lee Thompson’s Hitchcock-inspired thriller. A noble Gregory Peck from the original is swapped for a flawed Nick Nolte as lawyer Sam Bowden, whose intentionally bad defence of psychopathic rapist Max Cady comes back to haunt him when the criminal is released and seeks bloody vengeance. Robert De Niro takes the Robert Mitchum role and adds muscle and sweaty menace to the violence, while the blurring of the boundaries between the men gives a modern touch to the genre stylings.
Friday 29 April, 10.40pm, BBC One