On the anniversary of a long-ago murder, a mysterious stranger stops at the Maypole Tavern. Later, an injured man, Edward Chester, is found on the road by Barnaby Rudge, a mentally ill young man, and...
A very respectable adaptation of one of Dickens' weakest books
Barnaby Rudge is not Charles Dickens at his best, for this viewer it is one of his weakest books(perhaps even his weakest), I do agree that it is not very well structured, bogged down by too many incidents and relationships, and the characterisations of the characters are on the syrupy side with rather unconvincing villains as well. For Dickens fans though it is still worth a read, because as ever with Dickens it is evocative of the time and there is a social purpose behind it. This 1960 series is most respectable and more than makes do for the only adaptation(to knowledge) of the book available. Not perfect by all means. Some of the camera work is static(mostly in the more wordy scenes), some big scenes are under-populated and show some under-funding and not all the casting works. Barbara Hicks is agreed too shrill, Timothy Bateson relies far too much on mugging and a lot of it is irritating and John Wood while mostly good natured like his character can seem a little too bewildered. The production values are relatively lavish even within the budget and is of reasonable quality. There is a lot of talk in the dialogue, but it is faithfully adapted and is very intelligently written. The storytelling is also faithful, sustains itself well over a long but never stodgy-feeling length, and does a good job at being coherent, not easy for adapting a book that isn't very well-structured. The acting mostly is fine even with some staginess(not entirely inappropriate though actually), Raymond Huntley, Peter Williams and Arthur Borough are very good and feel very natural within the surroundings. Joan Hickson is also her old reliable self. So all in all, not mind-blowing and not one of the all-time great Dickens adaptations, but respectable and interesting. If you can find it, it is definitely worth watching. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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