Graham Weir is an alcoholic schoolteacher whose criminal record for refusing to fight during World War II has prevented him from progressing further in his teaching career. He is looked ... See full summary »
A bank robber is sentenced to prison for committing a murder during the robbery. His brother comes up with a plan to break him out of prison--but on the condition that his brother's girlfriend "date" him first.
Robert Walker Jr.
This movie's critical and commercial failure dissuaded Robert Bolt from ever directing again and, some say, also led to the break-up of his marriage to Sarah Miles. (Bolt and Miles remarried in 1988, the union lasting up until Bolt's death in 1995.) See more »
ADC to Wellington:
[Caroline has just slashed her wrists]
Good God, your Grace! She just tried to kill herself!
Duke of Wellington:
Nonsense, me boy. No difficulty about killing yourself, if you really mean to.
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This was one of four high-profile yet maligned films, all dating from the same year, which were slapped with the dreaded BOMB rating by the "Leonard Maltin Movie Guide"; conversely, the more conservative Leslie Halliwell was generally more receptive to their old-fashioned qualities! Anyway, two of these (including the one under review) had been very hard to come by, though both were quite recently shown on Italian TV – and, in fact, came across my copy of LADY CAROLINE LAMB off "You Tube" which I looked for on a whim on the occasion of co-star Richard Chamberlain's birthday! For the record, the other titles I am referring to are THE GREAT WALTZ (which still eludes me), MAN OF LA MANCHA and POPE JOAN (which has only been made available in a trimmed version and which I will be getting to presently in my Easter Epic marathon)
I have always enjoyed pictures dealing with historical figures but, around the time this came out, these had acquired a Revisionist outlook which often exposed the less-than-pleasant details of their private lives. Perhaps the first to do this had been Ken Russell via a number of irreverent made-for-TV musical biopics throughout the 1960s but, by the end of the decade, his movie career had taken off in earnest – with THE MUSIC LOVERS, starring the afore-mentioned Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky, hitting the screens in 1971. Here, then, he is libertine poet Lord George Byron – first seen challenging a black man to a boxing match – who became the lover of the titular figure (played by Sarah Miles) while she was married to politician Sir William Lamb (Jon Finch). While we are told that such affairs were common practice, sometimes involving even royalty, they were mostly kept "discreet" – a term which certainly cannot be applied to the one depicted in the film.
Indeed, the movie's low estimation in some critics' minds has much to do with its definite camp value: Miles, sporting short-cropped hair, is tomboyish – never more so than, when uninvited to a dinner honouring the Duke of Wellington (Laurence Olivier) due to her scandalous behaviour (with Byron opting to escort another lady), she adopts the garments of the torch-carrying lads ostentatiously accompanying his carriage around at night!; worst of all, however, she attends a costume ball half-naked and in blackface (purporting to be Byron's negro slave!) – it is here that the cracks in their relationship start to show, as she is ignored by her partner and laughed at by her peers! Having mentioned Wellington, it is also unbecoming to watch either the famed general or the celebrated thespian indulge in a one-night stand with Miles; incidentally, things would come to a head between Caroline (often referred to merely as "Caro"!) and Byron at the Duke's party, where she attempts suicide!
Finch, an able orator in Parliament (a protégé of George Canning, played by John Mills, even if he stands on the opposite side in the House of Representatives), obviously suffers on account of his wife's indiscretions; indeed, he is asked to choose between her and his career by none other than King George IV (Ralph Richardson) – who had once been his own mother's (Margaret Leighton) lover! The elder woman had always resented Miles and, in fact, her coldness results in Caroline going mad at the end. Notable bit players here include Peter Bull, Pamela Brown and Michael Wilding; the production values were certainly the best that money could buy: the late cinematographer Oswald Morris, art director Carmen Dillon and composer Richard Rodney Bennett (who supplies the expected lush score).
Incidentally, this was award-winning playwright/scriptwriter Bolt's sole directorial foray – which he created and personally nurtured, so to speak, as a vehicle for his real-life wife Miles. A co-production between the U.K. and Italy, it incorporated an irrelevant and fairly embarrassing scene set in the latter country as Miles and Finch go on a trip and decide to take a nightly stroll in a former gladiatorial arena – which is soon infested with wretched souls clamouring for money and grub; what makes it so bad, however, is the fact that the extras were not locals since they speak in broken Italian (even rendering "impiccati" – meaning "hanged" – as "impiegati" – workers)! As I said, then, the print I watched – interrupted every once in a while by the wording "PLAY" and related video information – was not in the best of shape but the film was nowhere near as unwatchable as I was led to believe; if anything, back in the day, it had managed to score BAFTA nominations for Richardson, Bennett and Dillon!
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