A bank robber is sentenced to prison for committing a murder during the robbery. His brother comes up with a plan to break him out of prison--but on the condition that his brother's girlfriend "date" him first.
Robert Walker Jr.
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Lady Caroline Lamb isn't nearly as bad as its reputation, but it's still more troubled than any film has a right to be. Making his one and only foray in the director's chair, writer-director Robert Bolt's take on a famous society scandal may take as many liberties with history as Cecil B. De Mille, but he has a good eye for visuals and a good ear for witty dialogue. Sadly, he has little control of either his narrative or his characters. It's hard to tell how much of the film's unevenness is down to the heavy pre-release cutting, but it's easier to see why it fails so often.
No matter how much her off screen antics may have made her seem an ideal choice, Sarah Miles (then Mrs Bolt) delivers a performance of such fearless ineptitude that it is staggering to watch sometimes painful, often laughable, always wrong in every way imaginable and frequently expressing every emotion as if she was suffering an extremely uncomfortable attack of indigestion. It's as if a monochrome Looney Tunes cartoon version of Samantha Morton had just had a giant rock dropped on her head and was wondering around in a daze, delivering her lines while counting the little birdies circling her head (her big mad scene is worthy of the East Cheam Dramatic Society on a particularly bad day). Bolt must have been very much in love not to see how disastrously she undoes his best efforts here. Margaret Leighton's archly hostile mother-in-law, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier phoning in their performances and even John Mills' bland professionalism cannot help but shine by comparison. As her unfortunate husband, Jon Finch struggles in his poorly defined early scenes but makes the most of his later opportunities, but the film's saving grace comes from a most unlikely source Richard Chamberlain. His Bad Lord Byron is a remarkable star turn, a prototype sexually ambiguous 70s glam rock star (at one point he even models his vocal delivery on Bowie) revelling in the sexual opportunities his newfound infamy presents. It doesn't hurt that he has the best scenes and knows how to act the matinée idol, either.
But otherwise it's a film of incidental pleasures - Richard Rodney Bennett's superb score and Oswald Morris' excellent widescreen photography chief among them. If only Bolt had cast a real actress
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