The Englishman's Boy
- TV Mini Series
A movie producer in 1920s Hollywood tries to track down an elusive Western star for his next picture.A movie producer in 1920s Hollywood tries to track down an elusive Western star for his next picture.A movie producer in 1920s Hollywood tries to track down an elusive Western star for his next picture.
De-glamourizing Hollywood's Wild West.
How fitting that Guy Vanderhaeghe's novel about Hollywood's misguided love affair with Cowboys and Indians has finally made it to the screen, even if it is the small screen. The two part TV movie has many great strengths. One strength is its glimpse into Tinseltown's treatment of First Nations people. The Louis B. Mayerish producer (played by Oscar nominee Bob Hoskins) is determined to have his way to show a realistic Cowboy movie. When an underling suggests rounding up some Mexicans to play the Indians (which was what happened in those days), Mr. Chance insists they get real "Indians". This is a huge irony as the movie mogul is not concerned with the real truth. He wants Tom Hardwick to be the hero in his film, when in fact the real Mr. Hardwick is shown, through Shorty McAdoo's flashbacks, to be the villain in the actual story. The real hero is Shorty McAdoo, a wrangler and stunt man who is already upset with the movie mogul after a young co-worker is seriously injured by Mr. Chance's hazardous practices. He is the one who's life history is the background for Mr. Chance's Western called "The Besieged". Another of the film's strengths is the casting. Besides Bob Hoskins, we have ubiquitous Canadian TV man R.H. Thompson. Thompson, who usually plays the Canadian hero, plays the villain here. The hero is played with unusual restraint by Nicholas Campbell, who will be a familiar face to many viewers. Harry Vincent, the man who tries to convince the movie mogul to tell the real story, is played by Michael Therriault. Therriault is a relative newcomer to the screen although he has previously starred as Tommy Douglas in the last great Canadian prairie TVM. Anyone keen on Prairie history will appreciate a film that depicts the Cypress Hills massacre. Unfortunately, great First Nations performers like Tyrone Tootoosis (BIG BEAR) and Tantoo Cardinal (DANCES WITH WOLVES) do not have much to work with here. One other great strength of this movie is the parallels made between Shorty's witness to the insensitivity of his cowboy boss Mr. Hardwick during the 1870s scenes and the insensitivity of the movie boss Mr. Chance in the 1920s. The drama weaves effortlessly in and out from flashback to present history (in this case, the Silent Film era) . Some may dismiss this film as an attempt to cash in on the recent popularity of Westerns like 3:10 TO YUMA on the big screen and successful small screen efforts like Spielberg's "Into the West" and AMC's "Broken Trail". Truthfully, the novel was written a decade ago and was in the works for years. I just call it good timing... and good entertainment.
- Mar 9, 2008
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