Helena loves Bertram, but he's of noble birth, while she's just a doctor's daughter. But Bertram is at the court of the King of France, who is ill, and Helena has a remedy that might cure ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Celia Johnson ...
...
Bertram
...
Lafeu
Angela Down ...
Helena
Peter Jeffrey ...
Kevin Stoney ...
Countess's Stewart
...
King of France
...
First French Lord
...
Second French Lord
...
Lavache
...
Bachelor
John Segal ...
Bachelor
...
Bachelor
Yves Aubert ...
Bachelor
Terence McGinity ...
First Gentleman
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Storyline

Helena loves Bertram, but he's of noble birth, while she's just a doctor's daughter. But Bertram is at the court of the King of France, who is ill, and Helena has a remedy that might cure him and win her the right to marry Bertram. But does Bertram want to marry her? Written by Kathy Li

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Genres:

Comedy | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

4 January 1981 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: All's Well That Ends Well  »

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Technical Specs

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opening shot is a long shot of Helena, before eventually moving in to a close up. Of this opening, Elijah Moshinsky commented "I wanted to start with a long shot of Helena and not move immediately to close-up - I didn't want too much identification with her, I wanted a picture of a woman caught in an obsession, with the camera static when she speaks, clear, judging her words. I wanted to start with long shots because I felt they were needed to place people in their context and for the sake of atmosphere. I wanted the atmosphere to help carry the story." See more »

Connections

Version of All's Well That Ends Well (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Too reverential by half
29 August 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In a sense, there has been too much effort and taste lavished on a problem play that is a long way short of Shakespeare's best. The Vermeer interiors and Rembrandt references look a treat, but (as well as being anachronistic by half a century) add weight where there is little in the text. A number of the performances do the same, including Angela Down's magnificent Helena, and Paul Brooke's Lavache, the least clownish, and most accountant-like, clown one could possibly hope to meet.

The problem is that if the play is read as a piece with serious psychological points to make and where motivation may be complex but remains explicable, then it is a hard play to watch. Bertram is a distinctly unappealing husband (Ian Charleson's performance does not find hidden depths) for a strong character such as Helena. The tormenting of Parolles by Bertram and his friends can be dismissed as Elizabethan knockabout, unless the treatment is highly realistic, in which case - as in this production - it looks like torture. The attempted seduction of Diana can be farcical, with the clever comedic logic of the rings and the pregnancy, but here seems simply unpleasant.

Donald Sinden's King is the sort of eye-rolling ham performance that will make sense of this play, but amidst the restraint he falls rather flat.

The stand-out performance is Celia Johnson's Countess, a lovely role brilliantly played. She is not the butt of any jokes, and so can be played tenderly. As with Sinden, the older style of acting suits the material. Sometimes, for example during the Florentine scenes, one aches for Johnson to be on screen.

It's not awful, just very much the wrong style, like filming St Trinians in the style of Cathy Come Home.


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