When I was an actress, I told a reporter I'd been starring in London for six weeks, and the next day I read, "Mary Ansell has been starving in London for six weeks!" And I didn't think anybody knew!
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First let me get this out of the way. This a a long, slowly paced drama, so, unless you're 'in the mood' to spend 4 1/2 hours (or you could always split it up into the 3 90 minute sections it is divided into), watching this worthwhile drama, don't start this without knowing that simple fact. Second, was James Barrie gay? Most definitely. Was he a pedophile? One would guess, only in thought, never in deed. Neither is important to your watching this excellent drama. The acting is superbly done, especially, of course, by Ian Holm, who never disappoints. My 2nd prize would go to Ann Bell, as the mother of the boys. The only real disappointment is the man who plays Frohman, Barrie's lifelong friend, but his part is relatively small. Also, let me say, the boys playing the younger boys are much more natural than their elder counterparts. For those who don't know, this is the story of the author of 'Peter Pan's' lifelong friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family, and the influence of their 5 boys on Barrie's writing. It is all factual, and was made with the cooperation of the Llewellyn Davies family. It is drama of the highest class, in the mode of most of the great BBC productions that appeared here in the U.S. as 'Masterpiece Theatre'. I never saw this on American TV, probably because of the subject matter. Even though, as a drama, it is strictly G-rated. One suspects the networks shied away from it because the homosexual elements are not 'disguised'. But there is no nudity, no sex, no foul language, nothing but great dramatic writing performed by great actors. As to the latter, the only thing that annoyed me was Holm's excessive coughing, though I'm sure it was 'correct' in terms of Barrie's character. Also he tended to slip out of the Scottish accent frequently. Indeed, I wish my copy had had subtitles. Something I don't often say about dramas made in the '70's before 'actors' forgot how to speak clearly. These are the only faults I found in the drama. Indeed, it kept me interested (and awake) for it's entire 273 minutes with nary a yawn, even though nothing much happens during it's entire running time. The direction was adequate and didn't intrude on the drama and there is a pleasant little theme for the beginning and the end titles by Dudley Simpson. Such dramas, if well written, and this was, do not need 'background music' intruding on the drama, any more than a good play does.
Though I don't put this in the ranks of 'I, Claudius' or 'Elizabeth R' or even the original 'Upstairs, Downstairs', it is still high quality and definitely worth the time spent.
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