First and foremost, I must praise the screenplay by Jack ('I, Claudius') Pulman, which captures James' world so perfectly. James has a remarkably unsentimental view of his characters, presenting his 'heroes' and 'villains' in equally fascinating shades of grey. Beatrix Lehmann and Kathleen ('Black Narcissus') Byron are marvellous as two of the 'good' characters who take no trouble to be liked (cf Rachel Gurney's charming Madame Merle)- perhaps James Maxwell's 'villain' needs to be a little more charming if we are not to take Isabel for a fool. Perhaps also Suzanne Neve is a little opaque as Isabel - but that's almost the point. Richard Chamberlain and Edward Fox are both excellent as her lordly suitor and sickly cousin and benefactor respectively. True, the studio-bound video camerawork looks dated - this was a very early colour production - and I quickly stopped remarking on it. And as a James fan who's sat through numerous glossy film adaptations which got nowhere near his wonderfully ambiguous heart, the reissue of this version on BBC Video is a cause for celebration - I've watched it at least three times, and enjoyed it more each time. Can we now have Pulman's 'The Golden Bowl', please?
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