Films on TV round-up: deaf, blind, but not dumb

Ed Williamson

7th August 2011

I'm going to say "paradigm" in this. Had to look it up first, obviously. "A set of forms all of which contain a particular element, especially the set of all inflected forms based on a single stem or theme." Come to think of it, I hope I've used it right, now I've drawn attention to it.

Commencing: Monday 8th August 2011

Rocky (1976) Wednesday, ITV4, 10pm
Rocky II (1979) Saturday, ITV4, 9pm

If I were the kind of man who could be bothered to make something his mission in life, it might be to convince people that Sylvester Stallone is actually quite a good actor. I'd really only have about three pieces of evidence to this effect, one of which I exhausted two weeks ago, but this is another. If Cop Land's on in a couple of weeks I'll know someone at ITV's on my side, despite the restraining orders they keep taking out against me.

The greatest trick Stallone ever pulled was convincing the world he's stupid. This idea seems to stem mainly from Rocky and its sequels, in which he plays a guy who's not all that bright but has a lot of heart. Fairly obviously though, Sly isn't thick himself: he won an Oscar for writing Rocky's screenplay. But, much like how some people assumed Leonardo DiCaprio was developmentally disabled because he was so convincing in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, the public perception of Stallone as a lackwit is all down to a flat-out fantastic performance in this.

Rocky Balboa is a jobbing boxer living in a crappy bedsit in Philadelphia, whose chance of a lifetime comes along when world champion Apollo Creed needs a token local fighter for an opponent. Rocky doesn't believe in himself but his self-esteem is bolstered by Mickey, the prototype broken-down old pug trainer, and Adrian, whom Rocky inspires out of her shyness just as she does him.

Where the sports movie paradigm was essentially man versus man (I say this like I have an extensive library of pre-1976 sports films), this introduced the element of man versus himself: the sportsman must overcome his own demons and/or self-doubt in order to win, both in life and in the ring. In doing so it paved the way for five sequels, some of which were thrown together too quickly, but none was anything less than watchable. The last in the series, 2006's Rocky Balboa, was a far better film than anyone expected, and tailed it all off very respectably.

You just hope he's got the good sense to leave it at that and isn't tempted to make another. Now that would be stupid.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) Saturday, 5USA, 7.05pm

Been years since I last saw this. From what I remember, your setup is that a blind Richard Pryor and a deaf Gene Wilder witness a murder, the killers are chasing them, and between them they have to track them down before it's too late.

Call this a spoiler if you will, but there's an outside chance it involves one or more cheap jokes involving their respective disabilities. I always loved Wilder and Pryor together, though: the films had their flaws, but the two men's affection for one another was always plain to see, and there's a joy in watching that which you don't get from the latest Farrelly brothers fart-gag-fest.

Besides, if you don't think this is funny, you're just ... well, wrong.

Also on this week

Titanic Monday, Film4, 7.15pm (also Saturday 9pm)
Blade Monday, 5*, 9pm
Gladiator Monday, ITV2, 10pm
A Clockwork Orange Tuesday, ITV4, 12.15am (also 10pm Friday)
King Kong (2005) Tuesday, ITV2, 9pm (also Saturday 11.20pm)
Role Models Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
Day of the Dead Tuesday, ITV4, 11pm
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Tuesday, E4, 11pm
Universal Soldier Wednesday, C5, 10pm
Batman Wednesday, ITV2, 10pm
Rising Sun Thursday, More4, 12.10am
Scum Thursday, ITV4, 12.30am
Coming to America Thursday, Film4, 9pm
Get Carter (1971) Thursday, ITV4, 11.05pm
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Thursday, BBC1, 11.25pm
The Interpreter Thursday, ITV2, 11.30pm
Home Alone Friday, Film4, 6.55pm
Happy Gilmore Friday, ITV2, 9pm
Rain Man Friday, ITV3, 10pm
Lethal Weapon Saturday, ITV4, 12.50am
From Russia with Love Saturday, ITV1, 3.45pm
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Saturday, ITV1, 6.25pm
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Saturday, 5*, 8pm
I Am Legend Saturday, ITV1, 10.15pm

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