Before creating the beloved courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey (1978), writer John Mortimer found inspiration in his own life for this portrait of a difficult but enduring love between father and son in mid twentieth century Britain. Screen legend Sir Laurence Olivier stars as the eccentric patriarch, a blind barrister so stubborn and cantankerous that he refuses to acknowledge his sightlessness. Sir Alan Bates (Gosford Park (2001)) portrays his devoted son, who follows his father's footsteps in the law while longing to become a writer, with Jane Asher (Brideshead Revisited (1981)) as his wife. Adapted for the screen by Mortimer and filmed largely on-location at his family estate in bucolic Oxfordshire, this production garnered multiple awards, including an International Emmy for best drama. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, it captures the special bond between father and son, which at times seems unbearable, but ultimately unbreakable.
Did You Know?
There had been an attempt to make a theatrical version with Sir Rex Harrison
in 1973 or 1974, but after just a few weeks filming, it ran out of money. Edward Fox
also starred, and he mentioned that none of the scenes filmed involved Harrison, apparently his agent was dubious that the producers had sufficient funds in place. See more
You think of how people tell you it's meant to feel: sudden freedom, the end of dependance. You walk into the sun and no-one is taller than you, and you are in no-one else's shadow. But I know how I felt. Lonely.