IMDb > A Handful of Dust (1988)
A Handful of Dust
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A Handful of Dust (1988) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 8% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Tim Sullivan (writer)
Derek Granger (writer)
View company contact information for A Handful of Dust on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 June 1988 (USA) See more »
The wife's affair and a death in the family hasten the demise of an upper-class English marriage. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations See more »
(11 articles)
Q&A: Rupert Graves
 (From The Guardian - TV News. 2 January 2015, 10:00 PM, PST)

Kristin Scott Thomas Partly Retires
 (From Dark Horizons. 4 February 2014, 2:18 AM, PST)

Oscar Snub? Supporting Actress 1987
 (From FilmExperience. 15 June 2012, 6:00 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Fair adaptation, but a watered-down result See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

James Wilby ... Tony Last

Kristin Scott Thomas ... Brenda Last

Rupert Graves ... John Beaver

Anjelica Huston ... Mrs. Rattery

Judi Dench ... Mrs. Beaver

Alec Guinness ... Mr. Todd
Richard Beale ... Ben
Jackson Kyle ... John Andrew
Norman Lumsden ... Ambrose
Jeanne Watts ... Nanny
Kate Percival ... Miss Ripon
Richard Leech ... Doctor
Roger Milner ... Vicar
Tristram Jellinek ... Richard Last

Pip Torrens ... Jock

Beatie Edney ... Marjorie

Stephen Fry ... Reggie

Graham Crowden ... Mr. Graceful
John Quentin ... Brenda's Solicitor
Timothy Bateson ... MacDougal
Moyra Fraser ... Mrs. Northcote

Marsha Fitzalan ... Polly Cockpurse
Annabel Brooks ... Daisy
Tamsin Olivier ... Veronica
Maureen Bennett ... Marjorie's Maid
Hugh Simon ... Travel Agent
Alan Hay ... Club Porter
Matthew Ryan ... Club Page
Cathryn Harrison ... Milly
Alice Dawnay ... Winnie
John Junkin ... Blenkinsop
Peggy Aitchison ... Waitress (as Peggy Atchison)
Christopher Godwin ... Dr. Messinger
Jeannette Baillie ... Rosa
Julian Infante ... Indian Spokesman
Wiliam Gonzalez ... Indian Singer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Giles Bickford ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Charles Sturridge 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Derek Granger  writer
Charles Sturridge  writer
Tim Sullivan  writer
Evelyn Waugh  novel

Produced by
Nick Elliott .... executive producer
Derek Granger .... producer
Jeffrey Taylor .... executive producer
Kent Walwin .... executive producer
David Wimbury .... associate producer
Original Music by
George Fenton 
Cinematography by
Peter Hannan 
Film Editing by
Peter Coulson 
Casting by
Celestia Fox 
Production Design by
Eileen Diss 
Chris Townsend 
Costume Design by
Jane Robinson 
Makeup Department
Miri Ben-Schlomo .... assistant makeup artist (as Miri Ben Schlomo)
Sally Harrison .... assistant hair stylist
Sandy Jelamby .... make-up: Venezuela (as Sandy Jelambi)
Patricia Kirkman .... hair stylist
Tirso Mohamad .... make-up assistant: Venezuela
Efren Salazar .... make-up assistant: Venezuela
Sally Sutton .... makeup artist
Production Management
Matthew Binns .... unit production manager
Nicolás Di Blasi .... production manager: Venezuela (as Nicholas Di Blasi)
Richard Izarra .... production supervisor: Venzuela
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Tony Aherne .... assistant director
Peter Kohn .... assistant director
Melvin Lind .... assistant director
Isabel Pares-Reyna .... second assistant director: Venezuela
Art Department
Alan Bailey .... property master
John Bailey .... dressing props
Simon Basketter .... property creator
Gordon Billings .... standby
Brian Blues .... construction
Abraham Bucce .... set decorator: Venzuela
Stephen Challenor .... standby (as Steve Challenor)
Frederick Crawford .... construction
Robert Harper .... construction
John Hedger .... construction
Ron Higgins .... standby
Alan Hooper .... construction
Richard Hornsby .... assistant art director
Reginald Keywood .... construction (as Reg Keywood)
Richard Law .... construction
Kevin Lloyd .... standby
Leocadio Lopez .... property master: Venezuela
Bill Lowe .... construction
George Malin .... dressing props
Stephenie McMillan .... set dresser
Peter Mounsey .... standby (as Peter Moundsey)
John O'Connor .... construction
Alan Perez .... standby
Brian Read .... prop buyer
David Smith .... construction
Gerry Stewart .... construction (as Gerald Stewart)
Ted Stickley .... dressing props
Dennis Wilson .... construction (as Denis Wilson)
Sound Department
Peter Bond .... footsteps editor
Ron Butcher .... sound maintenance
John Ireland .... sound editor
Angelica Landry .... assistant
Simon Manley .... assistant editor
Robin O'Donoghue .... sound re-recording mixer
Michael Parkinson .... assembly editor (as Mike Parkinson)
John Salter .... boom operator
Peter Sutton .... sound mixer
Special Effects by
Jorge Morillo .... special effects: Venzuela
Oswaldo Perez .... special effects: Venzuela
Camera and Electrical Department
Argenis Acosta .... grip: Venzuela
Francisco J. Arraiz .... electrician: Venezuela
Alexander Barroeta .... electrician: Venezuela (as Alexander Berroeta)
Angel Belfort .... electrician: Venezuela
Miguel Berzares .... grip: Venzuela
Roger Bustamante .... loader: Venzuela
Murray Close .... still photographer
Adam Cooper .... loader
Argenis Gonzalez .... electrician: Venezuela
Pedro Gonzalez .... grip: Venzuela
Alan Grosch .... electrician
Brian Martin .... best boy
Ron Maton .... electrician
Reg Parsons .... gaffer
Luke Quigley .... grip
Carlos Rosales .... electrician: Venezuela
Uwe Schult .... focus: Venezuela
Bob Smith .... camera operator
Stefan Stankowski .... first assistant camera
Angel Suarez .... grip: Venzuela
Antonio Subero .... key grip: Venzuela (as Antonio Suveros)
Brian Sullivan .... electrician
John Turner .... electrician
Alfonso Vera .... gaffer: Venezuela
Danilo Vucenovic .... still photographer: Venezuela
Paul Woods .... electrician
Casting Department
Teresa Topolski .... casting assistant (as Tessa Topolski)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Bill Coleson .... wardrobe assistant
Jenny Hawkins .... wardrobe assistant
Michael Jeffery .... wardrobe supervisor
Joy Kleiner .... associate costume designer
Tania Perez .... wardrobe: Venezuela
Gustavo Rodriguez .... wardrobe assistant: Venezuela
Editorial Department
Angelica Landry .... assistant editor
Music Department
George Fenton .... conductor
George Fenton .... orchestrator
Keith Grant .... music engineered by
Gerry O'Riordan .... assistant music engineer
John Warren .... additional orchestrator
John Warren .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Transportation Department
John Coleman .... transport
Luis Garcia .... transportation: Venezuela
Steve Hill .... transport
Maurice Newsome .... transport
Johny Rodriguez .... transportation: Venezuela
Other crew
Chris Allies .... title designer
Aracelys M. Alviarez .... adminstration: Venezuela
Nicky Kentish Barnes .... assistant to the producers
Gillian Bates .... production co-ordinator
Maria E. Gil Beroes .... production secretary: Venezuela
Simon Brito .... runner: Venzuela
Paul Cadiou .... production accountant
Saundra Chapman .... assistant accountant
Stephanie Clark .... production assistant
William Figuera .... adminstration: Venezuela
Toby Ford .... production runner
Gustavo Garcia .... adminstration: Venezuela (as Dr. Gustavo Garcia)
Roland G. Haiek Wuff .... producer for 5247 Producciones (as Roland G. Haiek)
Martin Horton .... assistant to the producers
Ovidio Jimenez .... runner: Venzuela
Christopher Knowles .... location manager
Lynda Levy .... unit publicist
Rolando Loewenstein .... producer for 5247 Producciones
Jane Moscrop .... production co-ordinator
Bob Nadkarni .... location research
Esther M. Ochoa .... ethnic consultant
Ana Maria Bartoli Pearse .... production assistant: Venezuela
David Ranegar .... adminstration: Venezuela
Francisco Sotillo .... adminstration: Venezuela
Liliana Velez .... production assistant: Venezuela
Ene Watts .... script supervisor (as Ene Vanaveski Watts)
Edward Fitzalan-Howard .... thanks (as His Grace the Duke of Norfolk)
Martin Fitzalan-Howard .... thanks (as Lord Martin Fitzalan Howard)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust" - Australia (TV title), USA (DVD box title)
"Evelyn Waugh's a Handful of Dust" - International (English title) (alternative title)
See more »
USA:118 min
Color (Fujicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

At least six personnel on this movie earlier in the 1980s had worked on the television series adaptation of another Evelyn Waugh story that being "Brideshead Revisited" (1981). These included director Charles Sturridge, producer Derek Granger, actor Roger Milner, and costumers Joy Kleiner and Jane Robinson. Moreover, about exactly twenty years after A Handful of Dust (1988), that other Waugh story would get re-made [See: Brideshead Revisited (2008)].See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006)See more »
King Of Love My Shepherd IsSee more »


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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful.
Fair adaptation, but a watered-down result, 17 March 2002
Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia


Evelyn Waugh was one of the most stylish writers of his generation and the deceptively simple prose of his early mordant satires ('Decline and Fall', 'Vile Bodies') stands up very well today. 'A Handful of Dust,' written during the break-up of his first marriage to Evelyn Gardiner ('She-Evelyn') is more personal and less comic, and more concerned with the consequences of the characters' lack of personal morality. This film version by Charles Sturridge, who was earlier jointly responsible for a fine TV version of 'Brideshead Revisited,' is a worthy attempt to do justice to the novel, but perhaps he need not have bothered.

The film follows the novel as published in England – a US edition had a different, happy ending - though for space reasons some incidents are omitted (eg the drunken night at the sleazy 'Old Hundredth' club). Tony Last (James Wilby) is a pleasant young dim Tory gentleman, the proud owner of Hetton Abbey, a pile of Victorian Gothic bombast, and the attentive but slightly baffled husband of Lady Brenda (Kristen Scott-Thomas), elegant, aristocratic, and bored to death after seven years of country life. They have a cute six-year old son, John Andrew (Jackson Kyle), who seems to relate better to his nanny and riding instructor than to his parents, who are equally awkward with him. A young man called John Beaver (Rupert Graves) invites himself to stay, and Brenda, despite Beaver's vacuity, decides to have an affair with him, renting a small flat in Mayfair from Beaver's mother (Judi Dench) for the purpose.

Then an accident occurs which prompts Brenda to reveal her affair to Tony (almost everyone else in their circle knows of it already) and leave him. Tony, having met an explorer named Messinger, sets off with him to Guyana, South America, in search of a lost city, but the expedition falls apart and Tony is rescued by Todd (Alec Guinness), a part-white man living with the Indians. Todd wants someone to read him Dickens, and Tony finds himself a prisoner.

The re-creation of life at Hetton; mists over the park, the huge, overdecorated house (Carlton Towers, Yorkshire, is a perfect match for the fictional Hetton Abbey), the attentive servants, the elegant meals, house parties, Sunday morning at church, the ritual of foxhunting etc, is all beautifully done. We see why Brenda is bored (even if Anjelica Huston's character does drop in by plane), but it is not so easy to see why Brenda takes after Beaver. Jock (a wooden Pip Torrens), young MP, friend of the family and an old boyfriend of Brenda's, seems a much more likely choice, obsessed as he is with the politics of pig-farming. Kristen Scott-Thomas is fine in the role of Brenda but the script lets her down a little. As Tony, James Wilby projects just the right air of amiable, good-natured dimness. We feel sorry for him even as his unlikely fate assumes an air of inevitability. A youthful Rupert Graves gives us a callow and colourless Beaver, egged on by his ambitious mother.

The change of scene from England to Guyana is somewhat abrupt, though signalled in the script, and it's almost as if we are watching a different movie. This is not necessarily the filmmaker's fault as Waugh backed an earlier short story of his 'The Man Who Loved Dickens' into the first two-thirds of the novel, which is a kind of prequel to the short story. Yet the events of the whole novel bear close correspondence to Waugh's own experiences, his marriage break-up mentioned above, and a journalistic trip he made to Guyana as a kind of therapy. Unlike the unlucky Tony, Waugh returned from the jungle to tell this, and several other mordant tales.

Here the film-makers were not able to give visual expression to Waugh's mood. Perhaps different music might have helped – the theme for 'Brideshead' was perfect. For the most part the actors were well-cast, but they were pinned down by the close adherence of the scriptwriters to the novel's dialogue.

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Gosh I really hated Brenda Last , what a horrible human being FlorenceLawrence
Question about Brenda's ending -spoilers- circus14
Is the opening his suicide? kftweedy
THE NEWS OF JOHN'S DEATH. national_bouton-1
DVD Quality vexata
Poor show (mild spoiler). roo1
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