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basford

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Sure there a few problems, but hey! Give it a go!, 7 March 2006
6/10

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most popular and treasured novels in English literature. Although I am not an Austen fan, I do love this book. I have read it myself twice, once when I was twelve and again last year when the latest one was released. So really it is not much of a surprise that quite a few British critics and viewers are a bit assy when it comes to this Hollywood 1940 version. I mean, one of Hollywood's greatest reputations is destroying the spirit of British works. However, when this was made, they wisely called on British talent to help film it.

Scripted by Sir Aldous Huxley, this version starred the greatest actor of all time Laurence Olivier as Mr Darcy. I would like to say he is the best Darcy, he was really the image I had of him in the book, tall dark, brooding, arrogant and he also added a touch of humour to the character. Sadly, this is one of his more underrated performances. I am sorry about that, because I think it is one of his best, while some go round saying that his performance lacked depth, it was only because he script didn't allow him to! The elegant and classy Greer Garson turned in a very good performance of the spirited Elizabeth Bennet, very much how Lizzie should be (although she DOES NOT pass for nineteen!). If you think about it, who else would really have been better for these roles at the time? The rest of the cast was quite impressive overall, I was particularly impressed by Edmund Gwenn's performance of the dry witted and long-suffering Mr Bennet, I found it very amusing. He was very much how Mr Bennet was in the book. I wasn't really impressed with Mary Boland's portrayal of Mrs Bennet, she just didn't seem to capture the essence of the character, se wasn't nearly as embarrassing nor as selfish as the character should be. I LOVED Melville Cooper's portrayal of Mr Collins. Although no way near as good as David Bamber's performance of him in the 1995 BBC version, it was still utterly hilarious. Edna May Oliver made a memorable and interesting portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but was not nearly as chilling nor rude and impolite as she could have been. I was very impressed with Maureen O'Sullivan's performance of Jane Bennet, in fact she was perfect. She really made you feel sorry for her. Other supporting actors, Ann Rutherford as Lydia, Marsha Hunt as Mary, Edward Ashley as Mr Wickham, Frieda Inescort as Caroline Bingley, Bruce Lester as Mr Bingley, Heather angel as Kitty and Karen Morley as Charlotte Lucas all OK in their roles but lacking depth I think. As someone said, this is an Austen sugar coating with no bite.

But don't diss this one, please give it a go. The unfaithfulness of it, and the number of characters is in my opinion unforgivable, but it is worth watching for the performances of Olivier and Garson. On Hollywoods creditable side, it is quite funny. But un-doubtebly, the one to watch is the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Rebecca (1940)
0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Only film I would ever call perfect, just brilliant!, 13 February 2006
10/10

'Rebecca' based on the Gothic novel by Daphne Du Maurier is the great Alfred Hitchcock's first American film. Ironically, it's more British than his British work is, and the great thing about it is that it brings out the spirit of the novel, as opposed to being typical Hitchcock work.

What a cast! Laurence Olivier (my fave actor and god) as the sardonic Maxim de Winter, Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs de Winter, George Sanders as the blackmailing cadish Jack Favell, Judith Anderson as the evil Mrs Danvers, Reginald Denny as the faithful Frank Crawley, Gladys Cooper as Mrs Lacey, Nigel Bruce as Mr Lacey, there are several others but we will be here forever if I name them all. But what I am trying to say, EVERYONE in the cast is just so brilliant, you cannot single one out as a best performance when all these talented actors all give it their 100% best.

The plot is done straightforwardly and not in the slightest bit difficult to understand, about a man who has been widowed for over a year, marries a young nervous girl and brings her to his mansion. however, the memory of Maxim de Winter's first wife 'Rebecca' who was loved by everyone but was a cruel, spitefull, shallow rebellious woman, is constantly kept alive by the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers (why Judith Anderson never won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this I'll never know), the new wife and Maxim have to constantly battle against the dead Rebecca's popularity and it is a real scary journey for them, it's an alliance between a gawky virgin and a widowed sadist, a woman who's past is so blank that she doesn't even possess a name and a man who's past is so dark and horrible that he has contemplated suicide. You might find it a bit weird first time when you watch it, but honest to god, if you enjoy all genres of film, you will love this. As I said before, it is stupid to single out someone for giving the best performance in this film, but I suppose the one who commands your attention the most overall has to be Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers. Perfect settings, perfect costumes and a perfect film. I have no issues with this film at all. I am now reading Daphne du Maruier's novel and am enjoying that too. The novel is loosely inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Joan Fontaine played Jane eyre in a 1944 production of Bronte's novel with Orson Welles but was nowhere near as good in that as she is in this. However, back to the point, great great film. Please watch it when you can, you will love it. Enjoy.

*Laurence Olivier was immensely rude to Joan Fontaine and caused her weeks of misery during filming. Why? He was p*ssed of the Vivien Leigh (his then wife) didn't have the part and took it out on Fontaine. When she informed of her recent marriage to actor Brian Aherne, he spat back 'Can't you do any better than him?' I'm surprised he wasn't hit.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Excellent adaptation of Charles Dickens great novel, Lean does it again., 9 February 2006
10/10

Oliver Twist is my favourite novel. I love it to bits. It is a dark, moody, hart hitting gritty kind of story, considered to be one of the most famous and popular by Charles Dickens. And I think that I am one of the very few teenagers who love Dickens's work. This 1948 British version of the great novel still stands out as the definitive version. Directed by the great Sir David Lean (wwho in my opinion is the greatest director ever), this film has some absolute quality acting in it. It stars Robert Newton as the brutal Bill Sykes, who is just brilliant in the role. He is terrifying in the role. If you have read the book, you will realise that he is exactly how Bill Sykes should be. Robert Newton makes him a dark, scowling, psychotic, frightening man who commands your attention every time you see him. Oliver Reed, who played him in the 1968 musical version of this story, was fine as Bill Sykes but gives a much more light weight performance than Newton does. The rest of the cast was top stuff as well, Kay Walsh gave an appealing, sympathetic performance as the tragic Nancy, clearly sick of the criminal life that she is involved in. The scene where Nancy is eaten to death by Sykes could make you turn away it is that horrible (even though we don't see it, we just see the dog trying ton escape and hear her screaming). A young John Howard Davies gives a fine performance as the title role of Oliver Twist, he made you feel a lot more for him than other child actors do. He doesn't force himself upon us and that is what makes you feel for him, because he doesn't try to make you feel for him, you just do. The rest of the excellent cast is great, Anthony Newly as the Artful Dodger, creating just the right essence for him, he is a rude, imcopetent little bully, not a character you are supposed to really feel anything for. Henry Stephenson as the kindly old gentleman Mr Brownlow, Francis L Sullivan as the pompous and idiotic beadle Mr Bumble, Gibb McLaughlin as the cruel undertaker Mr Sowerberry, Ralph Truman as the fraud Mr Monks, Kathleen Harrison as the sadistic Mrs Sowerberry, Amy Veness as the kindly old Mrs Bedwin, Mary Clare as Mrs Corny/Bumble, Graveley Edwards as Mr Fang, Michael Dear as the sadistic Noah Claypole, Diana Dors (in her first major film role) as Charlotte and Peter Bull, in a cameo role as the landlord of the 'Three Criples' pub. But...(and I deliberately saved him until the end) Sir Alec Guiness's immortal performance as Fagin is the best best performance in the show. David Lean wasn't sure about whether to cast him as Fagin, but it worked brilliantly. He steals the entire film, playing the character to absolute perfection from the book. He is soft spoken but at the same time a nasty, spiteful, evil old man. Ron Moody's acting of Fagin in the musical makes him out to be a crafty, pantomime villain who everyone loves...HELLO! DICKENS WANTS YOU TO HATE THIS CHARACTER!. Everyone in this film give absolute 'star A' performances in this film, making it hugely enjoyable and truly Dickensian. Of course, can only be done properly by the British.

While this film is near perfect, it does have quite a lot of scenes left out from the book, but I don't quarrel with it here because it brings the spirit of Dickens original into it. It would have made the great author proud. Dickens would have un-doubtedly hated 'Oliver!' the musical version of this book. Please, watch this before you watch the musical, please. Then watch the musical for second choice. This film is a true British classic and deserves all the praise it gets.

Hope this was useful. Derek

38 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Hilarious! Classic British comedy., 8 February 2006

Fawlty Towers is one the best, most popular but sadly slightly overshadowed comedies in Britain. it has the ingredients for perfect comedy and contains perfect characters. It is about this misanthropic arrogant man, Basil Fawlty, played brilliantly by the genius John Cleese, who is totally in the wrong job. He runs hotel and is rude to nearly everyone within a ten mile radius of him, but determined to make a success of his business. His wife Sybille played by Prunella Scales, whom he despises to the nth degree because she rules him with a rod of iron. Then there is Polly the waitress played by Connie Booth, the most intelligent character in the show who always ends up sorting out all the problems and keeps the hotel running. There is Manuel played by Andrew Sachs, the lovable gormless Spanish waiter who Basil bullies and tries to kill in nearly every episode. Other additional characters are the batty Major Gowen played by Ballard Berkeley, the dotty old ladies Miss Gatsby and Miss Tibs played by Renee Roberts and Gilly Flower and Terry the chef played by Brian Hall. All played very well.

One thing this programme didn't do like others is go on for series after series and eventually become far-fetched like several British sitcoms seem to do (cough, Last of the Summer Wine). It only ran for two series and left the audience starving for more. I think that it was a wise move not to do more, even though I would have loved it if they had. This is probably what John Cleese might be best remembered for in Britain, he not only stared in it he wrote it as well with wife Connie Booth. He based the character on a hotel proprietor in while staying at a hotel in England with the Python Gang.

I have no issues with this show at all, brilliant work. This kind of stuff needs to be treasured in Britain because it captures British humour perfectly. Whether you know the show or not, treat yourself to a DVD of series one or two (or both if want) and enjoy. And to those of you who haven't seen it before, I guarantee that you'll be in stitches within the first ten minutes of any episode.

QUOTE:- Basil Fawlty (trying to start his car)-Come on! Come on, start....START YOU VICIOUS BASTARD!

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Despite being not historically accurate and containing several flaws, brilliant film, 8 February 2006
10/10

Despite my issues with Hollywood, Mutiny on the Bounty is my favourite film. I first saw the slightly poor version with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard and wasn't very impressed. I then bought this on DVD and loved it. The story (based on a true historical incident) is about the tyrannical Capt William Bligh bullying and abusing his crew until he drives them to mutiny, lead by Lt Fletcher Christian. While this version is not historically accurate and has some un-impressive casting, it is very well filmed and has a very good script. The film stared Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian and he is my biggest issue with the film, he was not acting, he was just being Clark Gable. No attempt at an English accent, no real emotions showed, just reading his lines. The only reason he wasn't panned for this film was because the character of Fletcher Christian fitted his on-screen persona. He weakest in this film, there were so many other better actors in Hollywood at the time that would have been better for the role, Ronald Colman could have played him and the one I would have loved to see play him would have been Laurence Olivier . The other star was Franchot Tone as the idealistic Midshipman Roger Byam, again, no attempt at an English accent but he was acting a bit more than Clark Gable and he JUST about fitted the role OK. But the only person who owns the film is the legendary British actor Charles Laughton as the sadistic bullying Capt Bligh. He was absolutely fantastic and acted everyone off the screen, if it wasn't for him, I doubt I would enjoy this film. Other supporting roles are a bit better than the leading American stars. Donald Crisp as Thomas Burkitt, Eddie Quillan as Thomas Ellison, Dudley Digges as the surgeon Dr Bacchus (adding the right amount of humour to the film), Henry Stephenson as Sir Joseph Banks, Ian Wolfe as the slimy Mr Maggs and Bill Bambridge as Hitihiti.

This film is grandly filmed with perfect sets and costumes for the period and the special effects for 1935 are VERY VERY good. It is one of the ultimate high sea adventure stories and I highly recommend it for classical film buffs.

Derek

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Wonderfully done, great cast and my personal favourite of the timeless Dickens classic, 7 February 2006
9/10

This 1938 version of Charles Dickens immensely popular novel is overshadowed by later versions, but still stands out as one of the best. Everyone knows the story, a tight-fisted and mean old miser Ebenezer Scrooge causes misery for everyone in the business world is visited by the ghost of his former partner and told that if he does not change his ways, he will suffer the same fate as him. He is then shown by three spirits his past, his present and his future. The miser then changes his ways and has one the happiest and heart warming endings ever. This story has been filmed several times and I shall say that of all of them, I love this one the most.

The MGM company stared British actor Reginald Owen as Scrooge, who played the character brilliantly. He looks more of the embodiment of Scrooge than any of the others. He looks utterly bitter, mean and angry. Gene Lockhart played Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's long suffering clerk who is only ever given one day in the whole year off as a holiday, Lockhart played him wonderfully. He made the character lovable, joyful and doting on his family and the bond he had with Tiny Tim was more touching than the others, however, he was a bit too plumb and jolly for the character. Lockhart's wife, Kathleen Lockhart played Mrs Cratchit and was also perfect, even though she might have had too much good nature towards Scrooge (not in the book). Leo G Caroll played Marley's ghost, perhaps the spookiest one ever. Although he was a bit soft spoken, he was all the more creepy and seemed all the more tormented. The distinctly British stage actor Barry Mackay played Scrooge's good hearted nephew and was probably the best performance. He made the character very likable and easy going, exactly what Dickens would have wanted. A very young Ann Rutherford played the Ghost of Christmas Past (on for a VERY brief space of time), Lionel Braham played a jolly yet serious Ghost of Christ mas Present, again perfect from the book and D'Arcy Corrigan playing the scary Ghost of Christmas Future (again VERY brief). Other characters were Lynne Carver as Fred's 'fiance' (his wife in the book) Bess, Ronald Sinclair as the young Scrooge and Terry Kilburn who gives the weakest performance, he was a bit too old for Tiny Tim and was too happy and lively, not to mention healthy looking. But he tried and was acceptable. All the cast gave just about their best in this film and it is that what makes you really enjoy it.

The story has been pretty well done on screen, the sets and costumes are all truly Dickensian. It conveys a different type of spirit to the book, it is lighter and more...how shall I say it?...Christmas like. It was a bit more hard hitting than the book. My grandfather recorded this film one Christmas when I was three and since then it has not been shown on British T.V. It was the first film I ever watched and I have treasured it. I read the book at the age of eight and since then I have read nearly all the other books by Charles Dickens and have taken the view that he is the greatest novelist ever.

Whilst this version remains my favourite, I sadly cannot help but find several faults with it. Dickens is my favourite author and I ms feel I should defend the book. Firstly, why did it have to be so short? it runs for 69 minutes on VHS. There are so many scenes left out from the book and others just changed. For a start is the scene where Cratchit was fired...why? It wasn't in the book and didn't particularly make the story any better. Then there is the bit where Scrooge calls in the watchmen to come and arrest Marley's ghost. Then there is the ending, where Scrooge turns up at the Cratchits for Christmas lunch as opposed to him raising his salary and vowing to help his struggling family on Boxing Day. These changes don't make the story any better and I don't see the point in tampering with a great story just for the sake of it, but I suppose that there is no harm in experimenting. There were so many scenes left out from the book, the ghostly undertaking carriage going up Scrooge's staircase, the tormented spirits hovering outside Scrooge's window, the Fezziwig ball, Scrooge's ill-fated affair with Belle, Belle's future family, the ignorance and want scene, the Old Joe and Mrs Dilber scene and several others. It wouldn't have tormented the to have made the film a bit more faithful to Dickens' original and those are really the only things about his film that disappoint me.

However, I know most of my comments seem to be very confusing and I don't make it clear whether I like something or not. I'll put it straight. This version is highly enjoyable and holds up very well to the story, it will always be my personal favourite and shouldn't cast aside as much as it is. By the way, film buffs should recognise Billy Bevan as the leader of the watch, Forrester Harvey as Fezziwig, June Lockhart as Belinda Cratchit, Harry Cording as the waiter, Halliwell Hobes as the vicar, Olaf Hytten as the schoolmaster and Lumsden Hare as one of Scrooge's business associates, all uncredited.

Other versions of this story are the 1935 version with Sir Seymour Hicks (which I haven't seen), the definitive 1951 version with Alistair Sim which is widely regarded as the best of all and the most popular, the camp 1970 musical with Albert Finney which Dickens would have despised, the moody and dark 1984 version with George C Scott, the hilarious Muppet version in 1992, another brilliant 1999 version with Patrick Steward and the frightfully awful musical 2004 version with Kelsey Grammar.

God Bless us...everyone!

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely hilarious! Blackadder meets Fawlty Towers in a way..., 3 February 2006

My Family emerged onto our screens in 2000 and has been a real hit. I love it, it is absolutely hilarious. It is about the stark raving bonkers Harpers family and all the fiascos that they encounter with each other. They are, Susan the mother who is the worst cook in the world played brilliantly by Zoe Wannamaker (showing her hidden talent for comedy) and who also thinks that she is the modern laid back mother but she is the most controlling and bossy person in the household. There is also the father Ben, who is a sarcastic and grumpy and misanthropic dentist who cannot stand any of his patients and cannot stand his family at all, he is played by Robert Lindsay who is one of Britain's best actors, Ben Harper is in the mold of Basil Fawlty and Edmund Blackadder. There is Nick, the eldest son who is my personal favourite and probably the star of the show, he is a gormless, un-employable idiot who is working on one hair-brained scheme to another, constantly running up huge bills for his father played to an absolute 'T' by Kris Marshall. Nick is possibly the stupidest and strangest person in the world, yet he is somehow always one step ahead of his family, and the spats he has with Ben always has me in stitches. Then there is Janey, who is the fashion loving, money grabbing, shallow, bitchy daughter played very well by Daniela-Denby Ashe. Then there is Michael, the youngest child who is oddly the most intelligent character in the show. He has transformed from geeky schoolkid to some sort of shady businessman again played very brilliantly by Gabriel Thompson. He has some very funny sarcastic lines and manages to out-wit everyone else in the show. The other family member is Abbie, another gormless idiot who is quite amusing but no way near is good as the others, but she is played very well by Siobhan Hayes. Another additional character is Roger Bailey, Ben's dental neighbour who is in love with Abbie and nature who Ben bullies, he is a bit annoying at some moments but he works well with Abbie, and when he pretends to be quite clichéd it does make me laugh.

There are some killingly funny episodes, namely the one where Nick and Ben spend the night in a hotel in Leeds and end up having to share a bed, that episode had me and my dad wetting ourselves, another one where they have a burglar alarm installed at Susan's request and it drives the whole street mad and Nick becoming a male stripper and moons a police officer, another where Ben, Susan, Michael and Nick are stuck on a tube train and Ben makes enemies with two pensioners and Susan makes enemies with two Estonian men, Nick goes into business by selling bottles of water and Michael gets himself a girlfriend from one of the other carriages. Richard Whiteley also has a cameo role as himself in that episode, telling us how much he hates fame. And there was an xmas one i saw on UK GOLD where all I remember was that Nick managed to stuff the house completely with xmas trees, I would dearly love to see that one again.

It is hard to decide who is the best in this show, they are all played very well. Un-fortunately, the show has become a bit far fetched now because the characters are getting a bit too old and Nick has left so it is not nearly as amusing as it used to be Nick comes back with a cameo role every now and then and Janey comes in and out, it doesn't really surprise me, they can't be immature forever because after a while it just looks silly. But the old episodes are shown on UK GOLD every other week and I really recommend watching it. We do not get enough quality stuff like this anymore, so make the most of it while it lasts!

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Although a lot of the book is gone, brilliant performances and a great classic, 17 January 2006
10/10

I read the book last year, although I found it very complex and odd at times (and the Brontes are not my favourite authors, Dickens is my favourite) I found it, like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte to be a brilliantly written piece of English literature. I bought this film on DVD because I want as many Laurence Olivier films as I can get as he is my favourite actor and I also bought it because I knew the story.

I wasn't too enthusiastic about it, it is Hollywood and they have the greatest reputation of ruining British works and I had heard that a lot of the book had been cut out. I was surprisingly delighted when i watched it late on a Saturday evening. It is brilliant. True, a lot of the text from the book has been thrown away but they have left in what is most important to the story and we get to see more depth of the story that is just mentioned in the book, not seen (such as the scenes on the moors). The acting is great from everyone all round, Laurence Olivier delivers on of his most famous and best performances ever as the misanthropic Heathcliff. He captures every nuance of this dark, brooding, bitter, tormented man who has lost the will to live because of his un-requited love. It established Olivier as a star in Hollywood and gave him a break from Shakespeare (sorry Larry, I do find your non-Shakespeare performances more enjoyable than your Shakespeare ones, but you are still the greatest Shakespearean), he is the perfect embodiment of Heathcliff, he steals the whole show. I read in his biography that whilst filming this, he constantly clashed with both William Wyler and Sam Goldwyn, just mainly because they were power mad freaks and didn't have time to listen to his ideas. He also went mad because he was missing Vivien Leigh and treated Merle Oderon pretty badly, even though they were civil to each other by the end. Merle Oberon was brilliant as the vain, greedy and immensely selfish Catherine Earnshaw. She was exotic and beautiful and you loved her at some moments and hated her at others. A very young David Niven played Edgar Linton, he made you feel sorry for him but irritating you when he got between Heathcliff and Cathy. The rest of the cast all deliver great performances too, Geraldine Fitzgerald as the love starved Isabella, Leo G Caroll as Joseph, Donald Crisp as Dr Kenneth, Hugh Williams (possibly giving his finest ever performance) as the nasty and spoilt Hindley and of course, Flora Robson as the long-suffering housekeeper Ellen. The settings have been very well re-created for the bleak Yorkshire Moors.

Whilst I did love this film, I won't spend too much time waxing liracles about it. There are some other things I would like to say. It wouldn't have hurt the producers to make it a teeny bit more faithful to the book (I know I said that they have left in the best bits but...) as only the first half is put in and then they rush several chapters ahead to the ending chapter. This didn't please the Bronte purists when it came out and it doesn't surprise me much. Emily Bronte's novel wasn't just about the doomed love between Heathcliff and Cathy, in fact it isn't even supposed to be romantic, it is about what un-requited love does to some people. The second half of the book after Cathy has died shows Heathcliff's misanthropic attitude get bigger and bigger and how he behaves with the Lintons and Cathy's daughter and Hindley's son and also Edgar dying. The second half is the more complex side of the story andmakes you use your imagination more. They didn't have to show all of it, just some would have been OK. Another point is that while we have a largely British cast here, the child actors playing Heathcliff, Cathy and Hindley are fine actors, but why did they have to be American? They have American accents and are supposed to be yorkshire bred! And it is especially odd when the older actors playing the same parts have their own English accents. I know it would have hurt Hollywood pride but there were plenty of British childstars around at the time. The other thing is that some of the costumes are completely wrong for the era, particularly at the Linton's party. I know it saved money to just use the spares in the studios wardrobes but if they want to get it right, please do it properly! The more faithful, accurate, but perhaps not as enjoyable version is the 1992 one with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche and I don't think you can possibly watch only this one, that one has to be watched as well. That version has more of the original text, whilst this one has been simplified and shortened.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Other Olivier Hollywood films that I recommend seeing are, Rebecca, 49th Parallel, Pride and Prejudice. There are several other Hollywood films he made, but are the only ones have seen.

I give this film 8 out of ten.

Pygmalion (1938)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Wonderfully done, perfectly cast and a deservedly classic, 12 January 2006
10/10

Pygmalion by George Bernard shaw is my favourite play, closely followed the importance of being earnest by Oscar Wilde. And this version of it has to be one of my top ten favourite films. i love it, everything from the acting to the story is note perfect. Leslie Howard IS professor Higgins and one cannot imagine a better Eliza than Wendy hiller.

everyone knows the story (which is loosely based on a Greek myth), a cockney flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) is trained by a fussy and arrogant elocutionist (prof Higgins)to behave properly in high society. The story is witty, entertaining and is extremely popular. the casting in this is note perfect, Leslie Howard (probably best known for his portrayal of Ashley Wilkes in 'gone with the wind'), who also co-directed this film stars as professor henry Higgins and he embodies him perfectly, capturing every aspect of this arrogant, witty, fussy and infuriating man. the character is easily the most popular in the whole play (much against the playwright's wishes, shaw was a feminist). it was also one of Howard's favourite roles in his career as this man did not particularly like Hollywood films, considering them to be stupid and he spent his working life in Britain. he earned a nomination for best actor at the Oscars for this role (i really wish he had got it!). Wendy hiller making her screen debut and also personally recommended by shaw for the role is the best Eliza one will ever see. she also got nominated at the Oscars that same year. the rest of the supporting cast was good too, Scott Sunderland as the gentlemanly colonel pickering was very good, Wilfred Lawson as Alfred Doolittle was excellent (when he breathed at Higgins with his bad breath, i nearly wet myself with laughter), jean Caddell as the proud but middle class housekeeper Mrs Pearce, Marie Lohr as Higgins's stern but caring mother, David tree as the wimpish Freddy Eynsford-Hill who falls for Eliza and Esme Percy as count Aristid Karpathy. every one was nearly perfect in their roles.

the one thing i wasn't too pleased about was the fact that Anthony Asquith has decided to take out some of the funniest lines in the play an replace them with ones no where near as good as the old ones. he has also done this in the 1952 version of importance of being earnest.

shaw was a bit weary at his plays being done on screen. he had constantly turned down Hollywood offers to do screen his play (thank god, Hollywood has the greatest reputation of ruining British stories). he won an Oscar for best screenplay as he adapted his own play onto the screen here which did not please him. he was an odd man. they had too add in more here if they were going to make it feature length, so they have shown us Eliza's tutoring and the ball scene which is very well done. they also change the ending where Eliza returns to Higgins instead of leaving with Freddy. we are left wondering whether they get married, of live as friends or whatever. Higgins makes it perfectly clear that he will never marry anybody, but it could have happened. and Eliza is unlikely to marry a man who bullied her for six months but it leaves the audience guessing which is exactly what shaw wanted. the ending of the original play was Eliza leaving Higgins to go with Mrs Higgins, colonel pickering and Freddy to Alfred Doolittle's wedding and Higgins was left alone but with an incorrigible manner. in the film where she returns, it makes our imagination work a little more.

don't be taken in by the musical version of this play, my fair lady. this version is the real thing. i originally saw my fair lady before i saw this film and it was a lesson for me to see this and really appreciate it. i loved Rex Harrison's slightly mad performance as Higgins but Leslie Howard plays him closer to the original play (it has also been said that he would have been given the role of Higgins in my fair lady if he had still been alive) and Audrey Hepburn is just plain irritating in the role of Eliza, she can't hold a candle to Wendy hiller's performance. shaw would have undoubtedly hated my fair lady, he couldn't stick musicals, he probably wouldn't have allowed them the rights to make it. it didn't take me long to find fault in my fair lady and start loving this though. my fair lady is a Hollywood musical, they haven't a clue how to do British properly. it irritates me that everyone remembers my fair lady and fewer people know this film.

Pygmalion is deservedly a British classic and should be so much more appreciated in the UK than it is.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic version of Wilde's play, 9 January 2006
10/10

I first got into 'the Importance of being Earnest' last summer when my teacher cast me as Jack for my A-level exam production of it. Me and my classmate did the first scene with Jack and Algernon and we loved every bit of it. I read the whole play, loved it and then i hunted round looking for dvds of it. I first got the 2002 version of it which i enjoyed but i was disappointed that they had changed the script which i think is an insult. I should have expected it though, with American money invested it was inevitable. Relying on the reviews i had read of this old version, i went so far as to order it from Amazon as i was told all copies have sold in the UK and they aren't making any more. I was not disappointed with it at all, i loved every minute of it.

Directed by the great Anthony Asquith, this fantastic version stars Sir Michael Redgrave as Jack, Michael Dennison as Algernon, Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, Dame Margerate Rutherford as Miss Prism, Milles Malleson as Dr Chasuble, Joan Greenwood as Gwendolen and the lovely Dorothy Tutin as Cecily, this version is perfect.

Micheal Redgrave is the best Jack and Joan Greenwood captures one's heart with her plummy-voiced Gwendolen. Of course, stealing the show is Edith Evans as the tyrannical Lady Bracknell 'A HANDBAG!', Dame Judi dench was good in the role, but however she wasn't the Lady Bracknell i had pictured in my head, whereas Dame Edith was. And of course, nobody could ever forget the hilarious performance of Miss Prism by Magarate Rutherford. However, i did enjoy the new version's algernon (Ruppert Everrett), Dr Chasuble (Tom Wilkinson) and Lane (Edward Fox) a bit more than i did here. In a very short space of time, this has become one of my favourite films.


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