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GERALDINE CHAPLIN plays the ambiguous title role in this TV mini-series from the Daphne du Maurier novel about a young man's obsession for an older woman of mystery. Is she angel or sinner? The question is never really resolved--du Maurier herself claimed she didn't know the answer, so she left her story open-ended. However, that's not the fault of the TV version starring Chaplin. It's dull and lifeless, despite some authentic settings and a competent British cast.
As the young man torn by suspicion, CHRISTOPHER GUARD is no match for the actor who played the role in the big screen version--Richard Burton--who was immediately signed by Fox and began his American screen career with an Oscar nomination. Nor is the rest of the cast as tidy as the one in Fox's superior production. The pace is sluggish before the story gathers any real interest.
For a more concise telling of the tale, I suggest watching the 1953 movie starring Olivia de Havilland, who had the warmth, elegance and special kind of beauty for the part that the role of Rachel requires. Miss de Havilland was always good at suggesting the darker side beneath a portrait of a seemingly charming woman who may or may not be a murderess intent on becoming a wealthy widow. And the film itself, was played in the grand British manner required by the Gothic melodrama of the tale with the Burton/de Havilland relationship completely believable since they were perfectly cast.
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