When Alex Loding passes Brat Farrar in the street, he's struck by Brat's uncanny resemblance to Simon Ashby. Simon had a older twin brother, Patrick, who disappeared a decade ago, and was ...
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When Alex Loding passes Brat Farrar in the street, he's struck by Brat's uncanny resemblance to Simon Ashby. Simon had a older twin brother, Patrick, who disappeared a decade ago, and was presumed drowned. Simon now owns the family farm, Latchetts, a top-notch stable. Alex asks Brat, who loves horses, if he'd care to impersonate Patrick to disinherit Simon. But as Brat grows closer to the Ashby family, he finds the role a dangerous and wearing one; especially as he begins to suspect that Patrick's death wasn't an accident. Written by
Superb, Haunting Version of Josephine Tey's masterful novel,
Like many fine novelists, Josephine Tey sold the rights to her novel "Brat Farrar" to Universal Pictures, who was hellbent to capitalize on the success of "Psycho" and hopefully duplicate its boxoffice grosses as well. In order to insure the film version would remain truthful to her novel, Ms. Tey was also hired as one of the screenwriters. However, when she realized her dubious feelings were right (the title was changed to the lurid "Paranoiac," and the thrust of her novel was reduced to a Grade-B horror flick.) Miss Tey left the project in vocal disgust, expecting to hear from nobody in Hollywood ever again. And she didn't until some 23 years later when the Arts & Entertainment TV channel(located in the U.S.) and the BBC-TV network approached her to do a made-for-TV mini-mini-series (Running time: 155 minutes, but divided into 5 episodes for the A&E network--plus commercials. The result is one of the finest achievements ever accomplished by movies OR television. Playing two roles, Simon, a cold-hearted (and possibly homicidal) young man, and the impoverished youth Brat Farrar, who suddenly shows up after a 15-year absence and claims he is not only Simon's older brother but the true Lord of the Manor. An absolutely riveting young actor named Mark Greenstreet should have become a major star on the basis of his two performances in "Brat Farrar." Telling anything more of the plot would deprive the viewer of a maze of romance, familial love and hate, exquisite cinematography, and murder. The ending will astound you, as it still sticks in my mind after all these years. Two-and-a-half hours of television at its most extraordinary (off-handed, I can only think of "Brideshead Revisited" achieving the same bold, ambitious and absolutely shattering quality of the criminally neglected and now virtually forgotten "Brat Farrar." It's understandable why Josephine Tey found "Paranoiac" so offensive (it's actually one of the better "Psycho" rip-offs of the early 1960s, featuring a very young Oliver Reed chewing the scenery with all the bravado he can muster up). But "Brat Farrar," although unbearably suspenseful at times, digs deeply into the souls and motives of all its principal characters, and does so with such precision and empathy that are miraculous to behold. Josephine Tey was finally vindicated with the astoundingly gripping and achingly touching treatment of her magnificent novel "Brat Farrar." Now, A&E and the BBC, it is indeed high time you vindicated your loyal audiences by putting the full-length 155-minute version of "Brat Farrar" on VHS, DVD, or simply repeating it on your cable stations so that home viewers can finally become acquainted with 2 1/2 hours of the most elegant, stylish, heartbreaking and heartfelt drama television has ever gifted us with.
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