DANNY DEVITO has always been highly professional in front of the camera, but The War of the Roses (8pm Sky Cinema) reveals that he can be equally potent behind it. In DeVito's delicious directorial outing, which is adapted from the novel by Warren Adler, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (right) shine as a well-to-do couple who, after 17 years of marriage, fall out of love. Their ensuing divorce battle, in which they proceed to trash their glitzy mansion, not to mention the beloved pet dog, makes for hugely entertaining viewing. DeVito co- stars as the lawyer trying to make the warring pair see sense. This film provides a neat twist on the cutesy affair between Douglas and Turner in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, big box-office movies which also featured DeVito in a comic counterpoint role.
BECAUSE OF his delightful turn as Sir Humphrey in the sitcoms Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minster, Nigel Hawthorne has long enjoyed domestic recognition. But at a relatively late age, thanks to his stand-out performance in the title role of The Madness of King George (8pm FilmFour), he became an international film star. In this Bafta- winning film from Nicholas Hytner (due to take over the reins from Trevor Nunn at the National Theatre in London next year), Hawthorne is deeply moving as the monarch whose grip on sanity slowly starts to slip. Alan Bennett, who adapted it from his own stage-play, The Madness of George III (the title was allegedly changed so that American film-goers wouldn't think it was a sequel), deservedly picked up an Oscar for his poignant screenplay.
AL PACINO has always been associated with difficult roles in dark, brooding films, such as Heat, Donnie Brasco and, legendarily, The Godfather. But Frankie & Johnny (12.05am Sky Cinema) gave him the opportunity to try his hand at a lighter part. This touching romantic drama, directed by Pretty Woman's Garry Marshall, is taken from Terence McNally's play, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Pacino stars as Johnny, a drifting short-order cook who falls for dowdy Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer), a waitress at the restaurant where he works. Both leads are good - though it's a stretch to believe that Pfeiffer is unglamorous - but the best moments probably come from the supporting roles, such as Hector Elizondo's Greek cafe owner, and Nathan Lane as Pfeiffer's neighbour.
THOSE WITH herpetophobia should look away now. Crocodile Chronicles (9.30pm National Geographic Channel), a new series starting tonight, follows reptile-fancier Dr Brady Barr as he attempts to track down some of the world's most ferocious predators. In the first episode, he tries to locate the killer croc of Mondonguillo. This awesome beast, which has struck terror into the hearts of the locals and has already killed one tourist, is proving fiendishly elusive. Barr makes it his mission to find it.
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