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The Bad Lord Byron (1949)

Seriously ill on a military campaign in Greece, Lord Byron dreams of being judged, upon his death, as either a poet and soldier or as a seducer and libertine. Amongst the witnesses called ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sonia Holm ...
Raymond Lovell ...
Leslie Dwyer ...
Fletcher
Denis O'Dea ...
Prosecuting Counsel
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Lady Melbourne
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Pietro Gamba
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Count Guiccioli
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Austrian Officer
Cyril Chamberlain ...
Defending Counsel
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Mr. Hopton
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Count Gamba
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Storyline

Seriously ill on a military campaign in Greece, Lord Byron dreams of being judged, upon his death, as either a poet and soldier or as a seducer and libertine. Amongst the witnesses called are his free-thinking mistress, Lady Caroline Lamb, and his more conventional wife, Annabella. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

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18 April 1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Kvinnorna kring Byron  »

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1.37 : 1
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Final film of Aubrey Mallalieu. See more »

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Referenced in Terence Young: Bond Vivant (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

mad, bad and dangerous to know
23 October 2001 | by See all my reviews

This Rank period drama directed by David MacDonald begins with George Byron on his deathbed, then taking us to a purgatorial courtroom where a faceless judge presides over his fate. Is he to be remembered by posterity as a poet and a liberator, or a seducer and libertine? Witnesses are brought to testify in flashbacks with prosecution clad in black and defence in white, with the set reminiscent of the stylised courtroom used in John Ford's Mary of Scotland. However the legitimacy of this treatment is undermined by the performance of Dennis Price as Byron. Price plays his womaniser like a vampirish Oscar Wilde, with an odd scene of him sharing a glass with the brother of a woman he is involved with, a mysogynistic conversation with a friend - "You're far too bright a flame to be extinguished by a woman's fan" - and a pop psychological explanation given about how his mother treated him miserably and he mistreats women as revenge. It's a pity that the only woman of the 4 associated with Byron presented here as an individual is the one the first to be disposed of. This kind of paper thin betrayal and the dialogue being a series of howlers - "She's purer than the driven snow", "Your British sense of fair play is implacable", "You can't keep an eagle in a cage" - makes the film unintentionally hilarious until tedium sets in. It's no coincidence that the testimony of the defence's witnesses reduce Price to dull sincerity. The society presented here is one which races to buy Byron's first collection of poetry which sells out the first morning it is on sale, then snubs him when his wife leaves him and he seeks overseas exile for a crime presumably on a par with Wilde. Price delivers a speech to the troops which is meant to be inspiring but we observe that it might be more effective if he could speak the troops' language or vice versa, and though Byron moans about his being lame we can't see how it has held him back any. As Lady Caroline Lamb, Joan Greenwood easily steals the movie. Her throaty voice makes her very likeable, and MacDonald gives her a good scene where she cuts her wrist to get Byron's attention, as well pulling the camera back slowly to frame she and Price in long shot for their first kiss.


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