The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon ...
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Rumors abound that Irene Forsyte and Philip Bosinney are having an affair.Young Jolyon and Helene see Philip Bosinney and a beautiful woman meeting secretly. Young Jolyon had met Philip at his Aunt ...
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During the sixteenth century, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots engages in over two decades of religious and political conflict with her cousin, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England, amidst political intrigue in her native land.
The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon Forsyte. Soames is a solicitor, all proper and straight-laced. His love for the beautiful Irene is his only weakness as is his beautiful daughter Fleur. Young Jolyon is the opposite, a free-thinking artist who abandons his wife to live with his children's nanny. Their lives and their children's lives will intersect over 30 years bringing happiness to some and tragedy to others. Written by
Galsworthy's chronicle of property and possession. Not shown in the U.S. until the early '70s, it inaugurated the PBS TV series "Masterpiece Theatre."
As of this writing, all 26 episodes of this legendary series are available in the U.S. on DVD through BBC Video via Warner. For the past several evenings, I have been working my way through them, enchanted by its solid craft and thorough execution. What most impresses is the quality of the writing and acting, and how well it all holds up after nearly 40 years. Eric Porter's portrayal of Soames Forsyte is a remarkable creation: Caustic, selfish, sexually predatory, and haunted by sadness, it is among the small screen's great performances. This pillar of society is a suffering outsider and one of the series' most intriguing aspects is how the viewer's sympathies are subtly guided toward Soames and away from Jolyon and Irene as the saga progresses.
Soames may be loathsome in the early episodes, but age and a life of disappointment soften him into an admirable, if wintry, human being. Whereas Kenneth More's Jolyon and Nyree Dawn Porter's Irene seem more and more complacent and sanctimonious, especially in those scenes where Jolyon expounds endlessly on the need for freedom in human relations to a nodding, dewy-eyed Irene. Yet these two goody-goodies forbid their son Jon to pursue his love for Fleur! What is Jolyon, but a breezy, if fundamentally decent, charmer who blunders his way into an inherited fortune? And what is Irene, but a spineless beauty who cannot cope with the depth of Soames' feelings? (But then, who could?)
Other than the scenes where Soames appears, the later episodes relax. Nicholas Pennell is admirable as Michael Mont, the aristocrat with a heart-of-gold who marries the wayward Fleur (Susan Hampshire) and unintentionally causes endless unhappiness. His character underscores Galsworthy's essentially skeptical view of human endeavor. The outstanding cast included some of Britain's best performers of its day. Some went on to bigger things, such as the game Ms. Hampshire, but a review of the cast's vital statistics reveals that many have already passed away. This is their legacy.
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