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 »
It's 1782 and welcome to the fabulous Palace of Versailles, France. Outside the gates, the peasants are on the verge of revolting (already well past vile), whilst inside lives one of the ... See full summary »
England, 1904. A young lawyer from London, Mr. Ashton (James Wilby) and his best friend are hiking across Dartmoor. As he twisted his ankle, Ashton is forced to seek help at a nearby ... See full summary »
At the lush Evenswood estate in Concord, Massachusetts, Edith Adelon, a beautiful orphan, lives as the paid companion to the daughter of the wealthy Hamilton family, although they regard ... See full summary »
Paul Anthony Stewart
In 1895, women were not expected to work - or even know about - medicine. Women were expected to work as house-wives, mothers, teachers and nurses. One woman was determined to change that. ... See full summary »
1901:- Poor but intelligent Emily Fox Seton accepts a marriage proposal from the older Lord James Walderhurst,a widower pushed into providing an heir by his haughty aunt Maria,Emily's ... 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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