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Heavy handed adventure with Faye (who followed up Mommie Dearest with this) robbing stage coaches in full period costume. The production is pretty decent, as is the cast, but the film is so woefully over-the-top that you just want to slap director Michael Winner sometimes. What could have been. And that nudity thrown in for no apparent reason is absurd. The scene where Faye whips the clothes off the wife of her lover at his funeral is classic camp, however. Best performance is given by Denholm Elliott, who plays Faye's put-upon husband. This is in the same league as the even more preposterous Mata-Hari...which even shares co-star Oliver Tobias! This one is good for a few laughs.
This film is another example of why perspicacious cinema-goers have
always needed to be very wary when major studios decide to remake a
well known classic. Perhaps IMDb should create a list of such remakes
and give viewers the chance to vote on them as better or worse than the
original, possibly adding comments when appropriate. Hopefully these
comments might make the studios concerned much more wary about
following this rather dubious practice. This 1983 film is a remake in
colour of the classic black and white film of the same name starring
Margaret Lockwood, which was released in 1945, and it can still be
readily found on videotape. Unfortunately the original 1945 film is not
and is becoming very hard to find outside the U.K. where Margaret
Lockwood's name still commands enormous respect in the entertainment
Although this remake was able to obtain an R rating in the U.S.A. (by report only with considerable difficulty) it is in my opinion straight pornography- not because it realistically portrays the cruelty and violence of an eighteenth century execution at Tyburn, shows two women fighting with horsewhips, and includes a little more nudity than was generally regarded as acceptable at the time of its release, but because all these scenes were only peripherally necessary to the story line and were clearly only featured and prolonged in the way that they were for the purpose of audience titillation. If you want to be titillated in this way then by all means watch this remake which will probably provide exactly what you expect; but if you want to view a work of art which is in fact infinitely more sexy than this remake, join the demand for a DVD of the 1945 film (which is already available in PAL format for the European market) to be released for the North American market as well. This 1945 film has never been released in its original form in the U.S.A. because the meticulously recreated seventeenth century costumes were too low cut to be acceptable to the American censors of the period, so the original version had to be re-filmed before it could find its way into North American cinemas. A North American DVD of this original release would therefore be a fitting tribute to a great work in this its diamond anniversary year.
The original 1940s version of this film, starring Margaret Lockwood is a really enjoyable campfest. This dire remake is one of the worst films I have had the misfortune to see! Being a fan of the original, I was curious to catch this version which was broadcast on satellite last night (I had not seen it previously). Viewers are expected to believe that the grandfatherly Denholm Elliot would be the object of love/lust for a beautiful young Glynis Barber and then a (totally charmless) Faye Dunaway. At times, the poor old lad has trouble getting around the set let alone keeping two women happy. Faye Dunaway is meant to be Ms. Barber's 'friend' whilst actually looking like her mother. Ms. Dunaway (even then an old broiler with the head stuck out of an aeroplane window pulled-back face look) is lusted after by Alan Bates and Oliver Tobias. The whole premise is ludicrous. Hopelessly miscast, badly acted and directed the film is a total mess and one views it with the horrible fascination of a car crash! Whether or not it is meant to be tongue in cheek I don't know, but it certainly caused a few laughs! I'm afraid that Michael Winner's crime against cinema is far worse than Captain Jerry's highway robbery so in my view it should be MW swinging from the gibbet at Tyburn!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw the original (black and white) film on TV when I was a kid
and have never forgotten it, especially one scene in particular which I
shall come to later.
The later film follows the plot of the first film closely. The dialogue is often word-for-word. The main difference action-wise is that several doses of nudity have been added to the 1983 version, including an embarrassingly tacky cat-fight with whips. In IMDb's trivia section for this movie it is stated, twice, that the whip scene was already in the 1945 version but it certainly was NOT in the one that I saw.
The original film is wonderfully cast: the mild-mannered but sympathetically dignified Sir Ralph (Griffith Jones) the gentleman-rogue highwayman (James Mason) the irritatingly pious butler Hogarth (Felix Aylmer) the dashing Kit Locksby (Michael Rennie) and sweet Caroline (Patricia Roc).
Interestingly, Patricia Roc (the supporting actress) is actually more beautiful than Barbara Lockwood, but Lockwood, in the role of the scheming and danger-loving wicked Lady, carries the film with ease and one feels that nobody could have played the role so perfectly! All this, however, is far from the case with the remake. Sir Ralph is played by a far, far too old and unattractive Denholm Elliot.
Kit Locksby is played by a totally undashing and wooden Oliver Tobias.
Glynis Barber is OK as Caroline and Geilgud is pretty much the same as Aylmer in the butler role.
It is clear that the producers have been very careful to make the supporting actresses much less attractive than 'star' Dunaway! This can be seen not only in the Carolines but in Ralph's sister Henrietta who, in the first film, is attractive and arch (Enid Stamp-Taylor) but plain and peevish in the second (Prunella Scales).
Alan Bates manages the highwayman role OK, until the speech-before-the-hanging scene. Here you can't help but compare him to Mason and I'm afraid he falls very far short.
But all this would be sort of acceptable if the lead could carry the most important role, the wicked Lady herself. But Faye Dunaway is just not in the same league as Lockwood. And because so many scenes are exactly the same as the original, you can't help but compare them.
Add to this the fact that Winner has added several instances of gratuitous nudity along with a tacky sex-by-an-open-fire scene between Tobias and Barber. To avoid confusion let me emphasise that the following concerns the original Wicked Lady film and NOT the remake! This film succeeds because it precisely balances all our conflicting sympathies. Yes, we DO feel sorry for Caroline that Barbara comes and steals the love of her life, Sir Ralph; but we also understand that Barbara soon gets bored with his staidness. She may be wicked but she's FUN and we enjoy to see her impose her own terms upon the household: opening the locked room with the secret passage and moving in there to have both her independence and an escape route to freedom and excitement.
When she begins her wild affair with the highwayman she cuckolds Ralph and yet we don't feel very sorry for him because we know that he was not only foolish to have married her in the first place but in doing so he spurned and humiliated the gentle Caroline.
Eventually Barbara's lawlessness leads to harm: her killing of the coachman, Ned (for which she seems to feel genuine remorse) and then the poisoning of the butler. When Hogarth discovers Barbara's wicked ways she realises all will be lost if he talks. Quickly understanding the only way to get round him, Barbara appeals to his spiritual pride, begging him to help her 'reform'.
And so begins a regime of 'goodness' and 'good works'. This is rather comical and we sympathise with her trials, and, strangely, continue to sympathise with her, even when she uses poison to get rid of her tormentor. But when the dying butler threatens to talk, Barbara must deal with the situation quickly, and deal with it she does.
In the movie's, for me, most unforgettable scene, Barbara presses the pillow on Hogarth's face to finish him off. I don't know quite why the director felt obliged to make an insertion at this point but we are given a sudden extreme close-up of her eyes looking shifty, perhaps intended to remind us of her wickedness or possible simply to remind us that Ralph and the others are just beyond the curtain. Whatever, but after this insert we are given a shot so beautifully framed and lighted that Lady Barbara looks almost angelic. And as she finishes the deed she gives a little sigh of accomplishment that is almost orgasmic! The film manipulates our sympathies so deftly that we don't really grasp how immoral it all really is.
Caroline is united in the end with her Ralph and we think this is only right and good. After all, Ralph is the one who, in a key scene, stands up to all the other landowners and judges and even berates them for their treatment of the poor, showing that, though mild at home, he CAN be tough when it comes to fighting for justice.
Note how, in this scene in the later movie, Ralph's speech is severely curtailed, making him seem far more weak and ineffectual.
The remake in fact handles everything very coarsely. Winner and Dunaway make Barbara so grotesque that we can neither identify with her nor feel sympathy for her.
So, if you're planning to watch The Wicked Lady (1983) please don't bother but hunt down a copy of the original from 1945. You won't be disappointed!
I can't understand the lack of love for this film. It is just a fun
costume film with some mild action, all quite entertaining. It's
colorful, full of British character actors in good spirits. It also has
beautiful scenery from the British countryside and wonderful period
costumes from the baroque era.
The film stars Faye Dunaway in the delicious role of Lady Barabara, a very unscrupulous and greedy woman. Faye enjoys herself but she could have let rip a little more, gone the extra inch to portray this very wicked lady.
On the whole an amusing matinée movie. I think if it had less nudity it could have been a film for the whole family, as it was a lot of kids who could have enjoyed it were left out. Maybe that's part of the reason the film wasn't a hit back in 1983.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Other reviewers are right - Michael Winner's remake of the vintage
classic The Wicked Lady turns out more like "Carry On Dick" only with
bigger star names.
I can only assume the film was intended to be a comedy, but it's hard to tell as the film wavers all over the place. Faye Dunaway and Alan Bates act like they are in an uproarious bawdy romp, but the rest of the cast play it straight. Faye Dunaway is particularly odd, she continuously pulls the most bizarre comedy faces and bugs her eyes out in an effort to portray the scheming and greedy personality of the lead character Lady Barbara Skelton, whose exploits form the main story of the film. There's definitely a juicy tale here, with Lady Skelton robbing, seducing, lying and murdering her way through the cast to get what she wants, but the presentation here really wastes the material. The events of the story are dashed through at great speed, giving the viewer little chance to empathise with any of the characters, but as most of the emotions are portrayed in such a throwaway manner, I certainly never felt drawn in. Again Dunaway suggests no depth to the character she plays. But the presentation of the action is the real offender. There's no time for anything to sink in. As soon as the film starts, Lady Skelton is stealing a man, then next minute she's married, then stealing, then tricking, all without pausing for breath
There are some things to enjoy, including the beautiful English scenery and antique architecture, plus some nice performances from Denham Elliott and Prunella Scales in supporting roles, but the smaller parts, such as bawdy waitresses and strumpets (of which there are many), are wretchedly hammy. There are many scenes of nudity, all of which look completely incongruous for the period the film is set in, and exist only for titillation.
To sum up this is a very juvenile film with little depth, and a huge waste of talent and money.
a passable, tongue in cheek remake of a much better original which starred margaret lockwood as the mysterious lady who masquerades as a highwaywomen in 17th century england. the main interest here apart from the trite dialogue (alan bates: A WOMAN! faye dunaway: NEARLY A CORPSE!) is an infamous whipping scene between faye and then unknown marina sirtis (better known as commander troy from 'star trek-next generation') which caused a run in with director micheal winner and the late british board of film censor james ferman who ordered it to be trimmed. his argument was that a woman's breast shown to be whipped was unacceptable. after much lobbying from micheal winner; the sequence was shown uncut.
Spoiled Lady Skelton impersonates a notorious highway robber on horseback in the English countryside of the 17th century. It wasn't a bad idea for Michael Winner to stage a remake of Leslie Arliss' rollicking British adventure "The Wicked Lady" from 1945; Arliss' screenplay (credited here, along with Winner and others) was, after all, a tightly-wound and ingenious bit of sinful charade mixed with costume camp. But camp takes over in Winner's version, updated with bare bosoms and humping couples, while his star--the inimitable Faye Dunaway--is appropriately cast but coarse in the lead. Dunaway sports a whopper crop of hair and looks right in the flouncy attire, but she's manic and wild-eyed when all she needs to be is cruelly seductive (perhaps the ghost of "Mommie Dearest" was still dogging her?). Elsewhere, a British cast of elderly veterans and inept newcomers attempt to make the most of a wan situation, but Winner is too hasty in his pacing to allow anyone to carve out a genuine character. Either Winner or his producers (the un-esteemed Golan and Globus) were curiously obsessed with undressed wenches, though not even a whip-snapping catfight (lifted from Leslie Arliss' 1948 film "Idol of Paris") can breathe life into the tired, mangy final act. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff gets some nice shots of the evening sky, but his interiors are dreadful looking. Most of the nighttime heist action was obviously filmed in the daylight with a dark filter, causing even the story's high moments to look shabby. What a waste of an opportunity! * from ****
This movie is listed as an action/comedy, but the only thing remotely
amusing is in Marina Sirtis's nude scene. While running away, it is quite
evident that she has a tan line that indicates a French cut bikini bottom,
something I would think was quite rare in the 17th century.
I highly recommend that instead of this video, one either rents the original or a copy of Finney's excellent "Tom Jones".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wearing a hideous wig that looks like something that the men in the
court of King Joseph in "Amadeus" would wear, Faye Dunaway gives a
ridiculously over the top performance in this remake of the classic
1945 Margaret Lockwood film. The film realizes its hideousness from the
opening shot of a rotting, hanging dead man having his brains eaten by
birds and the shot if a topless woman running out of a barn with
"Directed by Michael Winner" covering the woman's breasts. Faye is in
the country for the marriage of her good friend which she quickly
breaks up, marrying wealthy Denholm Elliott and kissing another man
within his view at the reception. Within days, she's a masked bandit,
robbing coaches for the heck of it, and taking as many lovers as she
It's obvious that the covered face of the bandits is a woman's, and that the wealthy people she robs do not recognize them. Faye finds a rival bandit turned lover in the not so dashing Alan Bates, a decent character actor, but far from lothario material. John Gielgud struggles to keep his dignity among this trashy mess as the very religious old servant, but it's obvious that he's very uncomfortable saying and listening to the hideous dialog of the script. This is just a tacky throwback to period disasters such as "Joseph Andrews" and "Yellowbeard". Dunaway does get laughs, but in all honesty, they are a at her expense. In her early films she was soft as she played at being seductive, but there's a scary masculinity towards her villainous villain, making her scary to imagine in anything that requires the removal of clothes.
Are we supposed to believe that Dunaway is angry at God for taking her mother too soon, hence her determination to kill the religiously obsessed Gielgud who hopes to reform her upon discovering her secret? Shots of secondary characters bare breasts and butts is gratuitous and just crude. Faye overacts in the most absurd manner, and the fact that the script refuses to see the truth about her (even when it's as close as a pillow to their face) makes this just the most asinine script ever written. This is the type of film that makes the audience want to have the Oscar taken back from, and her performance makes "Mommie Dearest" seem subtle. Bad movie fans will have a ball with this. Faye has a ball with the whipping scene, but the audience is the one who ends up scarred.
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