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Three Men in a Boat (1975)

TV Movie  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  31 December 1975 (UK)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 204 users  
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One hot June day, three friends decide there is nothing they would like to do more than to get away from London. A boating holiday with lots of fresh air and exercise would be just the very... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Stephen Moore ...
Bill Stewart ...
1st Porter
...
2nd Porter
John Blain ...
Traffic Supervisor
George Innes ...
Train Driver
Russell Dixon ...
Harris's Cousin
Mary MacLeod ...
Pathetic Woman
Alan Collins ...
Desolate Man
Clifford Kershaw ...
Irate Man
Eileen Helsby ...
Woman with baby
...
Blackmailer
Hubert Tucker ...
1st Lock-keeper
Harry Markham ...
2nd Lock-keeper
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Storyline

One hot June day, three friends decide there is nothing they would like to do more than to get away from London. A boating holiday with lots of fresh air and exercise would be just the very thing, or so their doctors tell them. So, after debating the merits of hotel or camp beds and what to pack, they set off on their voyage - a trip up the Thames from Henley to Oxford - but very quickly find themselves ill-equipped for the trials of riverbank life. Written by Dabby

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based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

31 December 1975 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Drei Mann in einem Boot  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The dead dog seen floating in the river is actually a freshly killed sheep. The unfortunate animal was sacrificed after shots featuring a toy dog were found to be unconvincing. See more »

Connections

Version of Three Men in a Boat (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Disappointing
30 March 2007 | by (London) – See all my reviews

This has promising ingredients: adaptation by brilliant intellectual British word-smith Stoppard, undoubted star Tim Curry, Monty Python funny-man and a perfect period look.

The book itself is a both a comedy and gentle satire about the lives of the comfortably off middle-class Edwardian Southern English written around the same time as Wind in the Willows and conjuring up that same aura of innocent pleasures on the river. It was a satire rooted in a specific golden period shortly before WW1 ended innocence for ever.

Three friends, middle-class and comfortably off, who lead comfortable lives yet somehow come to convince themselves that they are ill, overworked and in desperate need of a relaxing holiday. Fatefully they choose a particularly complicated holiday in a camping skiff on The Thames. The preparation for this they, in their different ways, pursue with the same tail-wagging enthusiasm and general lack of forethought as their pet dog companion Montmorency. What results is a mixture of mischance leading inevitability to both comic disaster and moments of rare good fortune. It was for its readers a believable but comic version of the real minor misfortunes which could befall three male companions on such a camping holiday. In tone it resembles another Edwardian comic classic book "Diary of a Nobody" by George and Weedon Grosmith.

This production, though it shows consistent evidence of Stoppart's cleverness, just doesn't gel, is rather monotonous in tone and only entertains when it reproduces scenes from the book. This lack of clarity of concept is reflected in the disastrous casting. A mugging Michael Palin is uncomfortably placed between two talented and subtle actors. Tim Curry's character is clever - too clever - and morbidly droll indeed it is rather as if Stoppard himself had joined the trio - and having a comic-deadening effect on the proceedings.

The three characters in the book were neither idiots nor particularly smart. They were simply a bit spoilt, a bit naive and rather bored by work and their lives. The story is about how with an excess of enthusiasm - and deficit of thought - adults can make themselves appear ridiculous; ridiculous comic things can occur - in short, everything necessary to make a fondly long-remembered holiday.

And this was very much the character of the 1955 film version with the late and great David Tomlinson, Lawrence Harvey and Jimmy Edwards. Broad, never witty but entertaining I'd recommend the film version not this one. For work of comic genius the classic French film comedy "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday" is both hilarious and human.

Works of comic genius are first and foremost comic - the genius is subtle and hidden. David Tomlinson invariably played a bit of a buffoon but hidden behind this was a self-effacing genius. Here as in his plays Stoppard makes his cleverness the talking point, he wears his art on his sleeve. But like the three men in the boat, the audience had instead set out in search of simple relaxation and fun.


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