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Summer 1900: Queen Victoria's last and the summer Leo turns 13. He's the guest of Marcus, a wealthy classmate, at a grand home in rural Norfolk. Leo is befriended by Marian, Marcus's twenty-something sister, a beauty about to be engaged to Hugh, a viscount and good fellow. Marian buys Leo a forest-green suit, takes him on walks, and asks him to carry messages to and from their neighbor, Ted Burgess, a bit of a rake. Leo is soon dissembling, realizes he's betraying Hugh, but continues as the go-between nonetheless, asking adults naive questions about the attractions of men and women. Can an affair between neighbors stay secret for long? And how does innocence end? Written by
In 1956 Alexander Korda bought the rights with a view to filming a script by novelist Nancy Mitford with John Gielgud and Margaret Leighton in the leads. Leighton would go on to play Mrs Maudsley in this production. See more »
In the scene where the parishioners are going to church, the bells can be heard ringing Plain Bob Minor, a six-bell method. But when the scene changes to the interior of the church, only four men are seen, heaving laboriously on the ropes. Change ringing requires the sally (the coloured fluffy portion) to be pulled fully down and allowed to rise high up, then the rope is pulled down again by the tail end (hand-stroke and back-stroke), but the tail ends of the ropes are all knotted up. The men are only chiming the bells, not performing full-circle change ringing. See more »
Invited by his upper crust classmate Marcus Maudsley to summer at his family estate thirteen year old Leo Colston is taken into confidence by Marcus's beautiful older sister Marian (Julie Christie) to act as a messenger to her illicit lover, local farmer Ted Burgess (Alan Bates.) Marian is engaged to Lord Trimingham (Edward Fox) whom Leo develops a strong liking for. This complicates matters for Leo who has the same feelings for Ted and out right affection for Marian. The child's innocence becomes a detriment however when he attempts to make sense of the adult world through inquiry of those very much involved and it holds drastic consequence for all.
Sumptuously photographed (Gerry Fisher) and magnificently costumed The Go-Between evokes an almost fairy tale milieu in it's early moments with summer in full bloom and the well heeled Maudsleys lounging in finery amid the lush green trappings of their estate. The Empire in 1900 is still sun 24/7 and the Maudleys, confident and mildly aloof, representative of that power. Seen through the adolescent eyes of Marcus we are exposed to the hypocritical trappings of class snobbery, stuffiness and rules of the game. As things begin to unravel the lush lazy days of summer become more storm ridden and the restraint and decorum of the Maudsleys frayed all of which is powerfully summed up and splendidly depicted by Director Joseph Losey in a scene that begins with Leo's birthday party with everyone festooned in paper party hats.
Losey's understated style does a nice job of slowly revealing his story for maximum effect. His use of flash forward, confusing at first, is spare but well utilized to tie lose ends together. The overall morose mood of the film is retained throughout though Lalo Schiffrin's score reeking of hysteria threatens it on more than one occasion.
Christie and Bates, Edward Fox as Twillingham and the young Dominic Guard are excellent fits in their roles but Margaret Leighton as Lady Maudsley turns on the jets as the film closes and walks away with the acting honors.
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