James Onedin marries Anne Webster in order to get his hands on a ship. However the marriage turns out to be one of true love. James is ruthless in his attempt to get a shipping line started... See full summary »
In the 1830's in northern England, Riah Millican, a widow with three children, takes a job as housekeeper to a reclusive former teacher, Percival Miller. Miller makes Riah the gift of a ... See full summary »
On the eve of World War I, Agnes Conway manages both the business and the problems of her troubled family. She finds the strength to break class barriers and help her sister Jessie marry a ... See full summary »
Yorkshire in the 1880's: Joe Skinner marries Lily Whitmore, the woman he has long admired, to give a name to her illegitimate child by Lionel Fillmore, the opportunistic son of an ... See full summary »
Set in 1870s England, the story tells of Annabella Lagrange and the terrible secret her wealthy parents have kept from her. When she finally learns the truth, she runs away and eventually ... See full summary »
In mid-19th century Yorkshire, Hannah Boyle is left with the family of Matthew Thornton, the man her dying mother claims fathered her. Ill-treated by Thornton's bitter and vindictive wife ... See full summary »
'The Mallens' was originally transmitted as two films and has since been reissued on DVD as four separate instalments - The Mallen Streak, The Mallen Girls; The Mallen Secret, The Mallen Curse. Based on Catherine Cookson's trilogy of novels, it was not liked by its author and prevented other adaptations being made of her work for many years.
But is it any good? The first part of the story is dominated, as it should be, by Squire Thomas Mallen, a man who a woman never said no to, rich, powerful, and morally corrupt. Played by John Hallam (who was surprisingly under 40 at the time, but has the acting authority to appear older), a complex character emerges who engages both the audience's revulsion and sympathy. His actions cause the rest of the saga to unfold, first affecting his nieces Barbara and Constance, and then the next generation of children.
Many emotionally charged scenes could prove laughable if not skilfully handled. I think the acting was overwrought in places (David Rintoul in the early scenes strutted a bit too much as the arrogant country gentleman), but with Caroline Blakiston, Anne Reid, June Ritchie, Juliet Stevenson, and others on the screen you can't go wrong. The second part centres on the second generation (Juliet Stevenson and Gerry Sundquist), a bit like a pseudo Wuthering Heights - it's weaker, but by this time you care enough to see the saga through to the end.
A difficult adaptation of a difficult potboiler saga. Catherine Cookson should have been proud. It may not appeal to everyone, but there's no denying its power.
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