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God Rot Tunbridge Wells! (1985)

At death's door, George Frederic Handel reflects, rages, and narrates his life. From his womanizing youthful days, to his rise in fame as a composer, God Rot Tunbridge Wells! pulls no punches in this wild romp of a biopic.


Tony Palmer (as Mr Tony Palmer)


John Osborne




Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Howard ... Georg Friedrich Handel
Dave Griffiths Dave Griffiths ... Middle-aged Handel
Christopher Bramwell Christopher Bramwell ... Young Handel
Ranald Neilson Ranald Neilson ... The Boy Handel
Tracey Spence Tracey Spence ... Mary Granville
Anne Downie Anne Downie ... Vittoria Turquini
Simon Donald ... Prince Ruspoll
Peter Stanger Peter Stanger ... Domenico Scarlatti
Beth Robens Beth Robens ... Handel's Mother
Mitzi Mueller Mitzi Mueller ... Francesca Cuzzoni
Elizabeth Lax Elizabeth Lax ... The Second Soprano
Chris Young Chris Young ... Buxtehude
Caroline Woolley Caroline Woolley ... Marie Sallé
Shona Drummond Shona Drummond ... The Handmaiden
Isabella Connell Isabella Connell ... The Princess of Wales


Shortly before death, George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759), old, blind, portly, sometimes raging and usually reflective, narrates a look back over his life. As he tells his story, his music plays as background or is performed on screen. As a youth, he is Buck, a prodigy, attractive to women and to patrons. He travels from Halle to Italy then to London, where he finds himself completely at home. He composes constantly. He pleases princes and dukes; he displeases prelates and critics. He's in court to defend his copyright. He makes and loses money; he engenders a cat fight between two divas. At the end of his life, he observes that he helped the English with their religion. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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composer | See All (1) »


Biography | Drama | Music


Did You Know?


Georg Friedrich Handel: I do not think that I have been truly corruptible. I may have, yes, have been... pagan ...in spirit, but I have always known there is more sincerity in religion than politics. More truth also.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits are written as if they were a comment on the action, and they paraphrase Shakespeare: "Flatbroke Films presents A Tragic Historical Comedy, or A Comic historical Tragedy Or What You Will". The names of the actors and creative staff are all written with a "Mr." or "Mrs." preceding the name, just as they would have been in the eighteenth century. See more »


Awake the ardour of the breast
Music by George Frideric Handel (as G.F. Händel)
Performed by John Shirley-Quirk
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User Reviews

"Almost" the Life of G. F. Handel
14 July 2011 | by Hoagy27See all my reviews

OK presentation of George F. Handel's personal memoirs ("almost"). With Trevor Howard doing a fine job prancing about in his nightshirt and chewing through a script by playwright John Osborne. Summed up nicely by the phrase "It was always my policy, even as a small boy, never to willingly fart in front of ladies." The visuals are fine, with nice attention to period detail (smoke filled rooms due to poorly working chimneys, for example) but it was clearly shot without sound with everything added later in the indubitable BBC manner. On the whole it may have been better as a radio play without the images distracting us from the music and words.

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Release Date:

6 April 1985 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Georg Friedric Händel See more »

Filming Locations:

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland See more »

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