Lillie Langtry, trapped in a loveless marriage, takes full advantage of her beauty, attracting many lovers and admirers including the Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde. As her husband slowly ... See full summary »
Lillie Langtry, trapped in a loveless marriage, takes full advantage of her beauty, attracting many lovers and admirers including the Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde. As her husband slowly drinks himself to death, Lillie embarks upon a sensational career as a somewhat talented yet beautiful actress in Britain and the United States. Throughout her life she attracts rich and sometimes brutal lovers, endures financial ruin and scandal, yet maintains her dignity, elegance, and a certain amount of her beauty until the end of her life. Written by
Francesca Annis (Lillie Langtry) is the only actor to appear in all 13 episodes of the series. In second place is Catherine Feller (Dominique), who appears in every episode except the first and last. See more »
The truth is that I really do love you, yet it is the curse of my nature that I can desire but not possess beauty. It must always be just out of reach. I've wept for you and for myself.
If you let me, I would show you I'm more real than the goddess you imagine.
That is the one truth that I am frightened of.
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Engrossing biography of famed beauty/actress Lillie Langtry
Watching this on video it is hard to believe it dates from 1978 - it looks as modern as today in its production values. Perhaps all there is to give it away is the habit of using videotape only for scenes shot within the studio, resorting to film when out of doors or on location (the very poor quality of the film, its grain, washed out colors etc, were typical of the stock of the time and can be jolting when sandwiched between scenes of the impeccably crystal clear video stock). Francesca Annis plays Lillie with grace, charm and a certain calculated iron will - we rarely like her or what she does, but she is never deliberately cruel or offensive. She is out for number one but manages to make all the men in her menagerie feel she is devoted to their wishes. With almost a dozen lovers under her belt in her long career, she cashes in on her beauty when discovered in the London society of the 1870s and parlays it into the life of the courtesan, eventually gaining prestige by going on the stage and touring America many times over. Annis amazingly plays Lillie from adolescent tomboy through awkward young wife, self-assured celebrity and finally doddering old age - with not a single wrong note. The make-up in the last few episodes of both Annis and Denis Lill (Bertie)are extraordinary. Along the way we have Jennie Linden's marvelous supporting work as Bertie's ex and Lillie's lifelong friend, Patsy Cornwallis-West and Peter Egan's perfect dramatization of the effete and erudite Oscar Wilde. The sets are gorgeous and the costumes sumptuous - each one impeccably designed. This is a most interesting and educational look at an era and the survival of one very clever woman within its midst. One of the BBC's best mini-series.
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