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TV film fare -- week of Nov. 17, 2019


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Nov. 17. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.

Sunday, Nov. 17, 10:15 p.m.-midnight EST (TCM) "This Gun for Hire" (1942). Interesting Americanized version of Graham Greene's novel about a professional hit man (Alan Ladd) whose search for a double- crosser (Laird Cregar) leads to a wartime traitor. Directed by Frank Tuttle, the dark doings are brightened by a good woman (Veronica Lake) who shows some kindness to the hard-bitten gunman. Stylized violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 5:30-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). Nonconformist loner (Paul Newman), sentenced to a brutal Southern prison farm, gains the respect of his fellow inmates for standing up to the guards' degrading treatment and cruel punishments. Director Stuart Rosenberg relieves the grim situation with some well-paced humor and Newman's memorable performance in the title role transforms Luke from a pathetic victim of an unjust system into a symbol of the rebellious spirit that refuses to accept the legitimacy of power. A few scenes of brutality that some might consider excessive. 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.

Saturday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "The Notebook" (2004). Florid romance set in both present-day and 1940s North Carolina about a vacationing prep school debutante (Rachel McAdams) and a local working-class boy (Ryan Gosling) whose passion echoes through the decades and has a healing effect on an aging couple (James Garner and Gena Rowlands) who read their star-crossed saga in a diary. Though cynics may write it off as mawkishly melodramatic, director Nick Cassavetes' old-fashioned tearjerker, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, wears its heartfelt sentimentality like a badge of honor and proves ultimately to be a tender portrait of the miraculous power of love. A few sexual encounters with shadowy nudity and recurring profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Saturday, Nov. 23, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Us" (2019). Top-notch but excessively bloody horror fantasy from writer-director Jordan Peele. A childhood encounter with an exact double of herself proves to be the far-off prelude to a California woman (Lupita Nyong'o), her husband (Winston Duke) and kids (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) being visited and terrorized by a malignant version of their family. The macabre replicas have emerged from the tunnels in which they dwell armed with scissors and intent on murder. There are frights aplenty in the struggle that follows as well as an allegory about economic inequality and perhaps slavery as well. Though clan closeness proves crucial to the outcome, the mayhem is too intense for a wide audience. Much graphic and gory violence, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, numerous rough and crude terms, mild sexual references. Spanish language and titles options. 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.

Saturday, Nov. 23, 9:45-11:20 p.m. EST (Cinemax) "The Stepford Wives" (2004). Uneven remake of author Ira Levin's thriller about a hyperdriven TV executive (Nicole Kidman) who, after being axed from the network, relocates with her husband (Matthew Broderick) and children to the suburban Shangri-La of Stepford, Connecticut, where the men have replaced their wives with remote-controlled replicas who doltishly wait on them hand and foot. Director Frank Oz polishes the original story's dark horror surfaces with a buffing of black comedy, touching on questions of gender roles and conformity, but many of the issues raised are now politically passe and don't pack the same cultural punch they did 30 years ago. Some crude language and sexual humor, several instances of profanity, homosexual references, fleeting violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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