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A comedy of discriminating taste and dirty little secrets, the story is set in 1952 England, where Nigel, the Earl of Marshwood, woos Hollywood star Miranda Frayle, upsetting both his mother, Countess Felicity of Marshwood, and her former love, fellow Hollywood star Don Lucas. Right before the engagement party to be held at Marshwood, Moxie, the Countess's personal maid and best friend reveals that Miranda is her estranged sister. Crestwell, the Countess's butler, quickly devises a plan-but an inebriated Lucas's arrival at Marshwood to try to talk to Miranda causes all chaos to break loose.Written by
Q. Leo Rahman
Whilst filming on the Isle of Man in 1999, the cast joined members of the public to watch the eclipse. This provoked such surprise that more people ended up watching Julie Andrews than the eclipse. See more »
Dora Moxton 'Moxie':
She was always an affected little madam out for what she could get. If ever a girl needed her bottom smacked, she did.
Well, we might arrange that after dinner.
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Relative Values was never given a Broadway production during the lifetime of Noel Coward. It only made it there in 1986 thirteen years after Noel died. But in the original British production the star was the formidable Gladys Cooper. She's in the role of Duchess of Marchwood so Julie Andrews had some big shoes to fill.
I'll have to say that Andrews did it good style and a British production of even a second line Noel Coward work is better than a lot that is around. What I found interesting that with his various trips across the pond Coward felt comfortable enough to put some American characters in his work.
Andrews is the mother of Edward Atterton who is a well known jet setting playboy who always comes home to mother especially when things go spectacularly bad or good. Depending on your point of view he arrives home with American movie star Jeanne Tripplehorn in tow who is on the rebound from a breakup. They're going to be married, a fact that does not please mother.
Neither does it please William Baldwin who is an action film star of the era, late Forties when the play was written. He's who Tripplehorn is on the rebound from and he wants her back. He knows full well that Tripplehorn would be bored to tears as the lady of the manor in training in the quiet English countryside.
Add to all of that Sophia Thompson is personal maid to Andrews and she's Tripplehorn's long lost sister. It all comes to a head when Tripplehorn starts spouting off the invented studio biography where Thompson who has a fake status of her own for the occasion just explodes and these two have a cat fight to beat all.
Observing all this are butler Stephen Fry and cousin Colin Firth who seems to be a permanent house guest. They get the lion's share of the Coward wit in the dialog. This is Coward who was the pet of the English society. But Coward's third voice in the film is that of Thompson. Coward came from some pretty humble background and she also might very well be modeled on Coward's good friend from adolescence Gertrude Lawrence who also came from most modest means.
Relative Values was a pleasure to see because other than his really acclaimed work like Blithe Spirit or Private Lives, too little of Coward is played today. We could certainly use some of his wit now. I often wonder what Coward would have made of some of the events of the last forty years.
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