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TV film fare -- week of Aug. 19, 2018


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Aug. 19. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.

Monday, Aug. 20, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952). Color remake of the 1937 version has Stewart Granger in the dual role as the Englishman who saves a look-a-like European crown prince from a ruthless usurper (James Mason), then loses his heart to the king's intended bride (Deborah Kerr). Director Richard Thorpe's turn-of-the-century costume romance has plenty of regal spectacle. But the bittersweet love story is somewhat stilted, and Mason nearly steals the show as the nasty plotter whose downfall in the big action finish is entirely satisfying. Some stylized violence and romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Saturday, Aug. 25, 8-10 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Father Figures" (2017). Threadbare comedy about estranged fraternal twins (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) who belatedly learn from their mother (Glenn Close) that the man she long ago told them was their deceased father was, in fact, just a friend of hers, and that their real dad may be alive -- though her promiscuous past makes it impossible for her to identify for sure which of many candidates he might be. This discovery launches the siblings on a road trip during which they visit a series of contenders, the first being famed football star Terry Bradshaw, playing himself. Director Lawrence Sher's formulaic feature debut quickly sinks into a stupor from which only an energetic turn from Katt Williams as a hitchhiker briefly stirs it. And the distasteful premise is matched by a worm's-eye view of human sexuality throughout, although the resolving plot twist can be seen as vaguely pro-life. Pervasive sexual and some scatological humor, an incest theme, a premarital bedroom scene, about a dozen uses of profanity, a couple of milder oaths, constant rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Sunday, Aug. 26, 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Shoes of the Fisherman" (1968). Uneven screen version of the Morris L. West novel about a Russian bishop (Anthony Quinn) who becomes pope and decides the Vatican's wealth should be given to the world's poor. Directed by Michael Anderson, the point of the story gets lost in a series of murky subplots involving international intrigue. The religious pageantry is eye-catching but conveyed largely on a superficial level. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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