Orphaned by smallpox, young Lancashire country lady Fanny Hill cheerfully accepts her friend Esther Davies's offer to join the London 'working girls' with Mrs. Brown, a madam who recruits ... See full summary »
Orphaned by smallpox, young Lancashire country lady Fanny Hill cheerfully accepts her friend Esther Davies's offer to join the London 'working girls' with Mrs. Brown, a madam who recruits her as charmingly fresh enough to wait, in-living, on gentlemen. The first night, her room- and bed-mate Phoebe starts her sexual 'education', next she revels in being fitted her first-ever fancy frock. Her first 'client', Mr. Crofts, is neither naive nor attractive, rather a paying old rapist who isn't satisfied. Then the party scene, where men are younger and more charming. Handsome merchant's son Charles Standing declares love at first sight and offers to take Fanny away. After a few heavenly days of young love, they intend to demands Sir's blessing for their marriage, but as the ogre actually was her unsatisfied customer, Charles is made to choose between her and his future and leaves for colonial India. Being destitute, Fanny accepts becoming the kept woman of Mr. H., an earl's wealthy brother, ... Written by
Although the word "fanny" is nowadays widely used as British slang for the female genitals, and has been since the 19th century, this connotation was unknown at the time when John Cleland wrote his novel. Consequently, lines such as Mrs Coles's "Be gentle with my little Fanny, sir" would not have been seen as double-entendres. See more »
When Mr. Norbert dies at climax after making love to Fanny, he collapses on top of her, falling toward her left side. But in the next shot while she is calling for help, he is collapsed on her right. See more »
Think of it as a temporary strategem. Spend a little time on your back to get back on your feet, so to speak.
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Fanny is a young innocent lass from Yorkshire who meets a new friend as she heads to London. She finds herself fortunately falling into the care of Mrs Brown and her home for young women. Fanny quickly finds that Mrs Brown's girls are not really keeping their virtue for the right young man but rather are loose women available for payment. With a terrible first experience, Fanny flees Mrs Brown with a young man who she loves and loves her. Things appear to be on the up for the innocent young girl, but soon she is back in harm's way with little to fall back on but her innocent appeal.
I dismissed this when it came out originally because to me it just looked like another bodice ripper with sex and nudity served up in a "high-brow" package that makes it OK in a way that, for example, nudity in frat-style comedies is crude and wrong. This father snobbish attitude did put me off, plus the fact that my experiences of Andrew Davies suggested that he starts with the sexual content and then works backwards to the substance an approach that doesn't always work for me. However I decided to give Fanny Hill a go (oh-err missus) and I'm glad I did because it was enjoyable in a big romping sort of way. The nudity is of course quite explicit for what older viewers will be used to but it is well done because it fits the overall upbeat mood of the film.
To my mind there was an element of risk with this because think how tasteless it would have been if the mood hadn't worked, after all this is a story about a woman given into prostitution and left with little option but to have sex with multiple partners in order to survive. To suggest that this may not be the subject of a fun drama special is not that unreasonable given the problems of people trafficking. But it does work and the device of having Fanny narrate her own story with a cheeky tone of voice and happy reflection; this allows the viewer to relax after all if she is fine with it, we can be too.
The story is engaging and I was interested in the character so that the sex and nudity was not the "all" of the film but rather just an element of the telling. Hawes' direction is good but the sets and costumes deserve mention they are not convincing in regards the period but they are very good in regards the genre standards and in this way it all works. Night leads the cast really well with a cheerfully big performance but yet also with a certain amount of emotion and genuine feeling. Her support is all good as well, with everyone on the same genre page. Bond, Stansfield, Sheen, Steadman and others all do good work.
Fanny Hill was promoted and discussed in regards the sexual content but this is doing it a disservice because it is more than that. The tone and style is all about being a bawdy romp and it works, covering the rather unsavoury aspects of the story. Ultimately it is a typical BBC period romp but it is an enjoyable and entertaining example thereof, with good delivery all round.
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