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God Rot Tunbridge Wells! (1985)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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Shortly before death, George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759), old, blind, portly, sometimes raging and usually reflective, narrates a look back over his life. As he tells his story, his music ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dave Griffiths ...
Middle-aged Handel
Christopher Bramwell ...
Young Handel
Ranald Neilson ...
The Boy Handel
Tracey Spence ...
Mary Granville
Anne Downie ...
Vittoria Turquini
Simon Donald ...
Prince Ruspoll
Peter Stanger ...
Domenico Scarlatti
Beth Robens ...
Handel's Mother
Mitzi Mueller ...
Francesca Cuzzoni
Elizabeth Lax ...
The Second Soprano
Chris Young ...
Caroline Woolley ...
Marie Sallé
Shona Drummond ...
The Handmaiden
Isabella Connell ...
The Princess of Wales


Shortly before death, George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759), old, blind, portly, sometimes raging and usually reflective, narrates a look back over his life. As he tells his story, his music plays as background or is performed on screen. As a youth, he is Buck, a prodigy, attractive to women and to patrons. He travels from Halle to Italy then to London, where he finds himself completely at home. He composes constantly. He pleases princes and dukes; he displeases prelates and critics. He's in court to defend his copyright. He makes and loses money; he engenders a cat fight between two divas. At the end of his life, he observes that he helped the English with their religion. Written by <>

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Did You Know?


Georg Friedrich Handel: I do not think that I have been truly corruptible. I may have, yes, have been... pagan spirit, but I have always known there is more sincerity in religion than politics. More truth also.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits are written as if they were a comment on the action, and they paraphrase Shakespeare: "Flatbroke Films presents A Tragic Historical Comedy, or A Comic historical Tragedy Or What You Will". The names of the actors and creative staff are all written with a "Mr." or "Mrs." preceding the name, just as they would have been in the eighteenth century. See more »


Cara sposa
Music by George Frideric Handel (as G.F. Händel)
Performed by Andrew Dalton
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Sacred music for a bawdy age
9 October 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

God Rot Tunbridge Wells a film made for British television is a one man show with Trevor Howard as George Freidrich Handel reminiscing about his life and his music which in point of fact was his life. Born in Germany which was no nation, but a geographical expression in 1685, Handel looks back on his life which took him to Italy and then finally to the United Kingdom where he lived and became something of a British celebrity. One must remember that in his lifetime the Hanoverians ascended to the British monarchy and Handel lived under the reign of the first two Georges, the first who spoke no English and the second as little as he had to.

Handel was a musical protégé much like Mozart. Unlike Mozart his father did not encourage his talents and we see young Handel according to the legend learning and sharpening his abilities on a small clavichord in the attic. And we follow him throughout his life as Howard narrates. No other speaking parts are in the film, but we get a sense of the achievements that he fought hard for, on the keyboard and in court as he vigorously protected his copyrights.

He was a product of a bawdy age and he was quite the swinger himself with any number of classical groupies around. But he is probably best known for his Messiah which is so familiar at Easter time, celebrating the Resurrection. If the title isn't familiar, you'll know it from watching The Greatest Story Ever Told as the theme for the resurrected Jesus.

Like James Whitmore and his one man show performance of Harry Truman, Trevor Howard takes over and dominates Handel. It's a large cast of players, but no other speaking voice is heard but Howard's. And when he's not speaking Handel's music soars and thrills as it has for over 300 years.

The film is a tribute to George Friedrich Handel who was born in 1685 and left the mortal world in 1759. He may have been born in Germany, but the United Kingdom claims him as their own and he'd have loved the idea of nations fighting over his legacy. He left enough around for all. And this is a great tribute to the talent and charisma of Trevor Howard as well.

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