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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the series when it was first broadcast in the UK in 1974. I can't
remember it ever being repeated which is perhaps why it has slipped
from public memory. The stories also share the problem of the original
material: Father Brown seems to pop up everywhere for no real reason,
never in an established location with a regular supporting cast.
Viewers like to become familiar with characters and their surroundings.
I have just managed to obtain the complete series on DVD and I'm pleased to find they hold up very well. Some of the technical aspects are a little dated: camera movements and editing have a definite 1970's feel, as does the abrupt jump from video in studio scenes to very grainy 16mm film on location.
The series was a prestige project for Lew Grade's ATV (taking on the BBC in the 'classic literature' department). Grade was so determined to cast Kenneth More (who didn't feel he had a very priestly image) that he personally telephoned the actor every day for almost a year, saying: "Good morning, Father. How's Father Brown this morning?" Finally More gave in and replied: "Bless you, my son."
More's performance, of course, is the axis around which all the stories revolve. He has great charm and a wonderful way with witty one-liners (I almost suspect More ad-libbed these). He can also suggest Father Brown's knowledge of human nature and our capacity for evil, showing how the priest is more saddened than shocked when this is revealed (such as the coin collector/miser in "The Head of Caesar"). Another highlight is his intellectual duel with Arnold Aylmer about the nature of evil in "The Dagger with Wings". These pieces of exposition are, for me, the highlight of the series.
As you can see, I'm a real fan! If you're tired of Miss Marple and bored with Hercule Poirot. If you want classic period detective stories which aren't Agatha Christie - I'd recommend giving Father Brown a try. The DVDs will certainly make regular appearances on my player.
First-rate adaptations in their time of G. K. Chesterton's clerical detective Father Brown. The series which aired in 1974 unfortunately has only 13 episodes in it. Having re-watched them all again(having seen them probably in the late 70s on Mystery I think), the stories, the detective, and the productions all hold up today with rather small problems. Yes, these episodes are somewhat stagy and plodding at times - much like the stories can be. Father Brown is no Sherlock Holmes when it comes to action nor does he have the hubris one associates with Hercule Poirot or a Lord Peter Whimsey. He is more like an accelerated Miss Marple in both action and demeanor. Kenneth More plays the priest to perfection I think. Father Brown was a very inconspicuous character in the stories, but that just won't do for television if you want any viewers. More gives Brown some warmth, charisma(as earlier stated by another reviewer), and roundness as a priest and as a human being. He makes this series work and is incredibly fun to watch. The episodes are very faithful in most cases to the source material with some changes, but each episode has solid direction, good character acting, a puzzle albeit at sometimes a complicatedly-woven one, and More at its center. Some of the stellar episodes are: The Eye of Apollo in which Father Brown matches wits with a religious huckster, The Three Tools of Death which is about death from a very intriguing manner, and The Arrow of Heaven - again a rather neat little mystery. Throughout the episodes you will see the likes of actors such as: Ferdy Mayne(The Fearless Vampire Killers - vampire), Benard Lee(M in James Bond films), Shelia Keith(Pete Walker films like House of Whipcord and Frightmare and one scary actress just in general), and Dennis Burgess plays Hercule Flambeau in several episodes. If you are the mood for a thought-provoking mystery, try a little priest.
If, like my wife and myself, you have run through the BBC's various
Christie series, these are a good find. They are a bit dated, but I
prefer a good story to a click production. More is an excellent Father
Brown, soft-spoken, witty, but sharp and persistent.
These stories are from a bit earlier in the mystery genre than most adaptations, and this dates the series as much as the productions. Chesterfield's stories tend to be more "howdunit" than "whodunit", with the focus less on the characters than on the murder itself. This can be a problem, at times, but it can be very good, especially when combined with good characters.
I've been listening to the BBC radio adaptations of the Father Brown
stories with Andrew Sachs in the lead role. I have to say I much prefer
Sachs' version of Father Brown, but this series is perfectly good with
Kenneth More in the role. Considering when the series was made, the
production is reasonably good, and the acting, while occasionally
stiff, is fine overall. Some changes are made from the stories, which I
have no problem with. Of the episodes I've seen so far, none have been
damaged by the changes. It is important that Father Brown is a Catholic
priest, and not just another amateur detective, and in this sense some
of the religious reference seem to have been taken out of the stories.
This subtracts from the distinctive flavor of the stories, but it plays
fine on television.
You won't get the production values or the acting found in the later Christie series, but these are well worth trying if you favor British detective/mystery series. I'm certainly happy I found them, and I'll be watching them one per night until I've through the lot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kenneth More makes for a rather interesting Father Brown. His Brown while a Jesuit is more of a 21st Century humanist rather than a 20th Century priest. He is not so much a deductive reasoner as an inductive one. And he does share a quality with the master of deductive reasoning, Sherlock Holmes, in that he like Holmes does not necessary object that the criminal set his own end rather than wait to be brought to justice. Not quite an appropriate Catholic conviction. While Chesterton wrote 52 stories, this series ended with a mere 13 stories; far too few. And not all of the dramatizations are equally good but More is interesting to watch as a very erudite but self-effacing priest whose interest in puzzles makes him a rather capable detective. Nonetheless, this short but basically well executed series is worth a look. If nothing else it might bring the viewer to become a reader of Chesterton's stories.
It was quite difficult for the BBC to adapt the short stories of Father
Brown by G.K Chesterton in the manner in which they were written. This
is due to the fact that some of the original stories didn't contain
enough plot so as to make a 50 minute episode. The writers of the
series are to be congratulated and the leading performance from Kenneth
More effectively demonstrates that he was a more versatile actor than
one realizes. He is truly cast against type and rises to the challenge
It is true that the production values aren't exactly state of the art but for sheer storytelling, this 1974 version of "Father Brown" is worthy of repeated viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We are watching Kenneth Moore's Father Brown series and find it extremely boring. The character he plays has no personality or depth. The stories are slow with no real interest and then all of a sudden he solves the mystery and it is over. The only good thing about the series is that I enjoy recognizing actors in their younger days. Watching these once is enough. I know that it is an old series, but they could have done a bit more with it.
These TV series are poorly made. I do not mean the technical side, with
respect to age of the series and TV format it could be considered
I mean, actors' playing is bad almost for all of them. Sometimes the plot lines are vague and characters are unbelievable.
May be, one of the strong sides is that acting doesn't always look like theatrical performance. We get some interesting views and interiors.
I am not a good reader, so I've considered to watch this version. And I've got nothing. I couldn't assemble the plot, I can't understand the clerical point of view, I do not believe in acting. Just a few personal features and authors statements are well pronounced.
I wouldn't keep this historical TV production in my archive.
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