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Edward MacFell is a prosperous Northumberland farmer with a sadistic bent. He routinely hurts and humiliates family members and workers alike. When he goes too far, he becomes the victim of a murder made to appear an accident. His mild-mannered son Charlie witnesses the crime and protects the killer in the name of friendship and justice. But there is still another witness, Ginger Slater, an embittered farm hand with blackmail on his mind. Charlie is inveigled into a disastrous marriage with Victoria Chapman, the promiscuous county belle, unaware that her sister Nellie is in love with him. Then comes the war. When Charlie tires of his sister's carping and his wife's infidelities, he signs up--as an enlisted man, and finds himself in the charge of a sergeant with an axe to grind: Sgt. Ginger Slater. Written by
I am a big fan of Catherine Cookson adaptations, but I believe 'The Cinder Path' is one of the most disappointing.
The tale begins in the years just before the Second World War and follows Charlie MacFell who witnesses the murder of his brutish farm-owner father and helps to cover it up. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous character named Ginger Slater sees what happens and uses this knowledge to blackmail him through the years that follow.
There are solid performances from Lloyd Owen as MacFell and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the beautiful but cold heiress he marries, but the production is let down by the terrible acting from Maria Miles as Zeta-Jones's sister.
On top of this, the plot is weakened by the character of MacFell who makes implausible decisions and is difficult to feel any sympathy towards as the story works its way to a very dull conclusion.
One to avoid, in my opinion.
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