Hitchcock's influence obvious in PBS drama

If you're going to steal, you might as well borrow from the best. The stylish homicide drama "Dead Gorgeous" on "Mystery" (8 p.m., Sunday, PBS) lifts plot elements from Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" and half a dozen James M. Cain thrillers, including "Double Indemnity."

Set in London during the grim postwar years, "Gorgeous" begins with the chance meeting of two old friends, both locked in loveless marriages. The plain Rose Bell (Fay Ripley) made the mistake of marrying a daring Royal Air Force hero who still uses his reputation to cut a swath through London's ladies. The flamboyant Antonia Ashton (Helen McCrory) finds herself hitched to a rich, steady, devoted and decidedly dull inventor of household appliances.

Within days of their encounter, Antonia playfully suggests that they each do away with the other's husband, freeing them to lead the lives they deserve. After the pitiable Rose discovers that her two-timing wing commander has been supporting another woman and her family, and plans to cash in his insurance policy, Antonia decides to take action.

Rose settles easily into widowhood after her ace meets his fate on a subway platform. But her husband's insurance company is not so sanguine. Things get sticky when an increasingly unhinged Antonia insists that Rose fulfill her half of their bloody bargain.

Today's highlights

  • "The Directors" (10 a.m., Encore) profiles director James Ivory, whose films include "A Room with a View," "Howards End" and "The Remains of the Day."
  • "The Largest Ferris Wheel in the World" (6 p.m., Discovery) chronicles the building of the 450-foot amusement ride for London's millennium celebration.
  • NASCAR Auto Racing (6:30 p.m., Eastern, NBC) live from Daytona Beach.
  • Racing fans who like their movies fast, furious, loud and obvious might enjoy the 2002 thriller "XXX" (8 p.m., Starz), starring Vin Diesel.
  • Murder stalks the studios on "Dragnet" (9 p.m., ABC).

Sunday's highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): Divorced Saudi fathers who kidnap their American children; puzzle master Will Shortz; a factory owner with a heart.
  • NBC turns back time to repeat the 2002 special "Cher: The Farewell Tour" (6 p.m., NBC).
  • Will Smith stars in the 1996 thriller "Independence Day" (6 p.m., Fox).
  • The voices of D.B. Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Ossie Davis, Julianna Margulies, Joan Plowright, Della Reese and Max Casella animate the 2000 feature "Dinosaur" (6 p.m., ABC).
  • Faith Prince, Marin Mazzie and John Barrowman appear on an "Evening at Pops" (6 p.m., PBS) tribute to Jerry Herman.
  • The American and National League lineups are announced at "The Major League Baseball All-Star Selection Show" (6 p.m., Eastern, ESPN).
  • Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Salma Hayek star in the 1999 comedy "Wild Wild West" (8 p.m., CBS), quite possibly the worst big-budget adaptation of a classic television show ever made.
  • "E! True Hollywood Story" (8 p.m., E!) profiles the surly rapper Eminem.

Cult choice

Gene Wilder stars in the 1971 favorite children' confection, based on the book by Roald Dahl, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (8 p.m., Sunday, Family).


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