|Index||3 reviews in total|
Usually remakes of classic films containing classic performances are disasters, but this is quite well done. The taut original drama is very well directed with superb tension and Lee Remick gives an excellent performance in the lead. She can stand with Jeanne Eagels and Bette Davis as a fine Leslie Crosbie. This is worth seeking out - way above average for a tv movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoiler Alert I just watched this again for the first time in 22 years
and it is still superb. The screenplay is a great improvement over the
already finely written script for the famous William Wyler 1940 remake.
Here we have many firsts: a series of flashbacks Rashomon-style,
showing Leslie as first the innocent victim of an unprecedented rape
attack; secondly as again a victim of an affair gone wrong; and
finally, the truth as an aggressive viper. Also the racial disgust on
the part of the colonists against the Chinese natives is more apparent.
A new piece of information has lawyer, Howard Joyce, another of her
victims, and it is her threat to expose their affair that seals his
withholding the evidence of the letter. Another piece has Crosbie
himself frequenting a Chinese bordello, placing him in a less than rosy
light. The time is reset to 1939 with war tensions seething. Finally,
Hammond's Chinese mistress is portrayed as a wealthy woman, whose only
desire in asking 5,000 pounds (not 10,000 as in the first two versions)
is to destroy the Crosbies.
To be noted the beginning of the film is a direct copy of Wyler's opening and the bungalow, exterior and interior are identical to the original set design, although there are fewer stairs. Also the famous Max Steiner main theme is used during this scene and at crucial moments throughout the score, though the main composition is primarily Rosenthal's.
The ending remains a superb one - Leslie leaves the club and passes the Chinese mistress, we see her hidden knife and she begins to follow Leslie into the crowd until both are lost to sight - an ambiguous but predictable ending.
This continues to be a very well written, acted and directed work. I timed it at 86 minutes, not 96 as the IMDb site states. In addition to Remick's work, Ian McShane as Hammond and Soon-Tek Oh as Ong also give superb performances.
It is to be noted that this production won three Emmys (Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design) and was nominated for Make-up and Music. Odd that Remick was not among the nominees, but she did get a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.
Very worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This television version of the Somerset Maugham short story that was
the 1940 classic with Bette Davis is rarely shown. It had some nice
touches in it, particularly with Lee Remick as Leslie, the murderer and
murder trial defendant who we know is guilty and not innocent as she
claimed. The rest of the cast, led by Ronald Pickup as Howard Joyce the
barrister, and Jack Thompson as Robert Crosbie are also effective (it's
nice to see Wilfred Hyde-White as the judge, small role though it is).
But what I like best is the variant on the conclusion to the story and the original 1940 film. So I am going to have to announce
In the short story, Leslie collapses when about to accept Robert's forgiveness by admitting that she still loves the man she killed. In the 1940 film Bette Davis made the same tearful admission to Herbert Marshall, who leaves her in disgust. Davis wanted that to be the end of the film, but William Wyler had to obey the idiotic Hollywood code of 1940 that insisted that a murderer had to pay for his/her crime. So Davis strolls out of her room in the house she is in, and is murdered by a killer hired by vengeful Gale Sondergaard (Sondergaard and the killer are arrested a minute later - they too fall under the rules of the code).
Now the debate is which of these two endings was more effective. It's really a toss-up, but Davis's and Maugham's approach was more subtle (Leslie will have to live for the rest of her life with the knowledge she murdered the man she really loved, and she was not punished for it). The interesting variation in the 1982 film was that the revelation Leslie made to Robert was built up on.
The Malaysian British colony had rallied to Leslie's defense because she was one of them, and the version of the killing that was her defense made the victim a rapist who deserved what he got. But when Robert hears Leslie's tearful admission, he stalks out of the bedroom they are in, and is in the main salon of the house where most of the British guests are. His comment upon leaving is so fully bitter at Leslie as a lying conniver that there can be no doubt that she is an unpunished killer. Leslie has now pulled herself together and follows Robert into the salon...only to find everyone cold and very unfriendly. She realizes they know the truth now. She walks out of the front door, and heads into the night. She now has burned her bridges behind her. The Asian widow of her victim is there with her killer, but they watch Leslie staggering down into the masses of the town - totally unlike what she or the other British people would do in Malaysia. They follow but they are watching what they think is going to be Leslie's future: she is on the way down the road to her end as a common prostitute or suicide...in any case her oblivion. There is no need now to kill her.
It was an interesting variation on the ending, and worthy of considering as a third possible conclusion.
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