A list of the best period dramas available to stream and on DVD that take place during the Interwar Era (1918 – 1939), the years between the First World War and the Second World War. Costume period dramas filmed in England, UK and other countries set in that time period. Television mini-series, PBS, BBC, Masterpiece Theatre productions, historical dramas, heritage films. Includes movies about the Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, 1930s, the Great Depression in America, British Colonialism, romantic British movies, changing social classes, and about people lives at the brink of war. More to come!
For the lists of the top period dramas and recommended documentaries in additional eras, wander over to: What To Watch: The Period Films List
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An upper-crust British marriage comes undone in this dark comedy, starring Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) in her breakthrough role. Brenda and Tony Last (James Wilby, Maurice) spend their days flitting between social engagements and renovating their monstrous mansion in the country. But when Brenda begins an affair with an idle young rake (Rupert Graves, The Forsyte Saga), their apparent life of ease takes a tragic turn.
The year is 1932 and Tony and Brenda Last (James Wilby and Kristin Scott Thomas), a devoted and attractive couple with one son, John Andrew, appear to live an idyllic life in the huge Victorian Gothic house which is the symbol of Tony's family pride. One weekend they inadvertently play host to John Beaver (Rupert Graves), an idle young socialite. It is the chance arrival of this penniless scrounger which irrevocably shatters the gentle balance of their lives.
Adapted from Evelyn Waugh's Jazz Age satire, A Handful of Dust is a brutal story of a failed marriage with shattering consquences. James Wilby stars as a country gentleman, Tony Last, who loves rattling around his expansive estate, Hetton Abbey. Tony's wife, Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas), however, pines for London's excitement and commences an affair in the city with penniless aristocrat John Beaver (Rupert Graves). The fallout of Brenda's betrayal includes a family tragedy and creative divorce settlement ultimately undone when fed-up Tony goes on a naturalist trek through Brazil and becomes the hostage of a mad, illiterate explorer (Alec Guinness). One might wonder whether it's more appropriate to laugh or tremble at these events, and director Charles Sturridge's handsome, graceful production ingeniously accomodates the story's streaks of dark comedy and horror. With brief, memorable supporting roles for Anjelica Huston and Stephen Fry. --Tom Keogh
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Anjelica Huston, Judi Dench, Alec Guinness.
In this period comedy, a British spinster (Vanessa Redgrave) eyes a factory owner (Edward Fox) who is infatuated with a young American nanny (Uma Thurman) at a resort in 1937 Italy.
"A Month by the Lake" is a sly romantic comedy about a collision of sex, ego, will and pride, all peeping out from beneath great thick layers of British reticence. Its delights are wrapped in a lavish production in a beautiful time and place - Italy's Lake Como, in the spring of 1937; it's another one of those movies, like "Enchanted April" and "Only You," about perfect places for a holiday. - Roger Ebert
Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Edward Fox, Uma Thurman, Alida Valli, Carlo Cartier.
Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh star as two young war-weary veterans who spend a summer month in a peaceful Yorkshire town in order to escape the horrors of war.
Whilst Tom Birken (Firth) spends his month in the country uncovering and restoring a historical war painting in the local church, another veteran, Charles Moon (Branagh), is looking for the grave of an ancestor of the patroness of the church who fought in the Crusades. But their work at the church takes an explosive turn as one ignites long-denied passion within the Reverand's young wife, which forces the other veteran to face his own dark desires.
Pat O'Connor directs this tranquil version of the J. L. Carr novel, adapted for the screen by Simon Gray. The film concerns two emotionally scarred men recovering from the horrors of World War I during an idyllic summer in the English countryside. It is 1919, and war veteran Tom Birkin (Colin Firth) travels to the small English village of Oxgodly to restore a medieval church mural that is hidden under coats of plaster. At the same time, another war veteran, archaeologist John Moon (Kenneth Branagh) is exploring the nearby fields trying to uncover an ancient church grave. As they toil away in this placid environment, their emotional war wounds are gradually healed, and they come to terms with their problems. Birkin finds himself falling in love with Alice Keach (Natasha Richardson), the wife of the local vicar, while Moon finds himself learning to deal with his homosexuality.
Starring Colin Firth; Kenneth Branagh; Natasha Richardson; Jim Carter; Patrick Malahide.
An expatriate White Russian general sets in motion a grand hoax after he meets a destitute woman on the banks of the Seine River in Paris. He is amazed at her resemblance to Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas of Russia, rumored to have somehow survived the Bolsheviks' execution of the Romanoff family in 1918. He trains her to impersonate the missing princess but soon begins to feel she may be the real Anastasia. Ultimately, the truth can only be decided by one person Anastasia's grandmother, the Dowager Empress.
Anastasia is adapted from the popular stage play by Marcelle Maurette. The scene is Paris in the 1920s.
"Ingrid Bergman won a second Oscar for this Hollywood-style melodrama of mystery and romance, playing an amnesiac refugee who may or may not be the real survivor of the Russian royal clan." - Emmanuel Levy
Starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes, Akim Tamiroff, Martita Hunt.
As the world teeters on the brink of World War II, 10 strangers are invited to isolated Soldier Island. Among them are young secretary Vera Claythorne (Maeve Dermody, Serangoon Road), soldier Philip Lombard (Aidan Turner, Poldark), General John MacArther (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park), spinster Emily Brent (Miranda Richardson, Parade’s End), and Judge Lawrence Wargrave (Charles Dance, Game of Thrones). With seemingly nothing in common, the guests wonder who their mysterious host may be. But the ominous reason for their visit soon becomes clear…and by the end of the night, the first of them is dead.
Based on the bestselling crime novel of all time by Agatha Christie, this “TV event of the year” (The Guardian, UK) boasts an all-star cast also including Anna Maxwell Martin (The Bletchley Circle), Toby Stephens (Black Sails), Burn Gorman (TURN: Washington’s Spies), Noah Taylor (Peaky Blinders), and Douglas Booth (Great Expectations).
Starring Aidan Turner, Maeve Dermody, Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens.
Note: This stylish dark thriller is not suitable for young children.
In the 1930s, upper-class Tommy Judd and Guy Bennett are both nearing the end of their careers at their public school. Vlassmates and fellow outcasts Guy Bennett (Rupert Everett) and Tommy Judd (Colin Firth) find comfort in friendship during the 1930s, at an elite British public school where conformity is the norm. Openly gay Bennett must deal with bullying and homophobia, while Judd struggles to reconcile the expectations of the establishment with his own Marxist beliefs when he is given the opportunity to become head boy.
Another Country, Colin Firth’s feature film debut is a screen adaptation of the 1983 London stage production by the same name. Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies.
Starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Michael Jenn, Robert Addie, Rupert Wainwright, Tristan Oliver, Cary Elwes, Frederick Alexander, Adrian Ross Magenty.
Rated PG but contains mature themes.
Every life is ordinary and extraordinary. Logan Mountstuart's - lived in every decade of the twentieth century - is a rich tapestry of both. Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice), Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter), and newcomer Sam Claflin all take a turn as Logan at different points in his life in this provocative glimpse at one man's quest for glory and bliss.
An aspiring young writer in London and Paris, a spy during WWII, Logan's was a life touched by everything, and everyone, from the Spanish Civil War, Joan Miró, and Ian Fleming to Earnest Hemingway, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. But despite his many brushes with history, it is the women of his life who ultimately define Logan - his ill-matched first wife, Lottie; the wives of his best friend, Peter; Freya, the love of his life; or anyone else on the long list of women who've shared his days and nights.
Featuring Hayley Attwell, Kim Catrall, Gillian Anderson, Tom Hollander, Natasha Little, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and Richard Schiff, Any Human Heart is the story of a full life, lived with passion - expansive, rich, unsentimental, comic, and profoundly moving.
Cultural mistrust and false accusations doom a friendship in British colonial India between an Indian doctor, an Englishwoman engaged to marry a city magistrate, and an English educator.
Set in 1928, this film portrays an indelibly sardonic picture of British life in territorial India.The story concerns Adela Quested, who is a free-spirited British woman, played by (Judy Davis), whohas settled in India and is to marry Ronny Heaslop (Nigel Havers), a town magistrate. She is befriended by the charming Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee), but it's a friendship that ultimately leads to tragedy.
Before Merchant Ivory took on "A Room with a View" and "Howards End," David Lean (1908-1991) adapted E.M. Forster's more difficult 1924 novel "A Passage to India" (actor/director Richard Wilson describes it as "almost un-filmable"). Nominated for 11 Academy Awards--composer Maurice Jarre and actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft won Oscars for their work--Forster's final book provides the material for Lean's last movie. This two-disc set grants the intimate epic the context it deserves. The seven featurettes on the second disc, which play collectively as one documentary, cover cultural and artistic matters. Participants include James Fox (Fielding), Nigel Havers (Ronny), Art Malik (Ali), and producer Richard Goodwin, who offers the erudite commentary on disc one. (About the six-month shoot, Havers exults, "The whole of India will just blow your socks off." Apparently, no one wanted to return to Shepperton Studios afterwards.) At the time this collector's edition was in production, Lean, Ashcroft, and Sir Alec Guinness had passed on. Nonetheless, Oscar nominee Judy Davis (Adela) is notable by her absence--and the same could be said of Jarre and Victor Banerjee (Dr. Aziz). Otherwise, Columbia has done an admirable job in lining up the principal cast and crew, and fans of the director are sure to find archival interview "Reflections of David Lean" particularly interesting, since he discusses other films and actors, like 1957 best picture winner The Bridge on the River Kwai with Guinness and William Holden. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Starring Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers, Richard Wilson, Antonia Pemberton, Michael Culver, Art Malik, Saeed Jaffrey, Clive Swift, Ann Firbank, Roshan Seth, Sandra Hotz, Rashid Karapiet, H.S. Krishnamurthy, Ishaq Bux, Moti Makan, Mohammed Ashiq.
The Maclean brothers, Paul (Brad Pitt) and Norman (Craig Sheffer), live a relatively idyllic life in rural Montana, spending much of their time fly fishing. The sons of a minister (Tom Skerritt), the boys eventually part company when Norman moves east to attend college, leaving his rebellious brother to find trouble back home. When Norman finally returns, the siblings resume their fishing outings, and assess both where they've been and where they're going.
Set during a span of time from roughly World War I to the early days of the Great Depression, including part of the Prohibition era.
"Based on writer Norman Maclean's autobiographical story of growing up in Montana, this is a moving, powerful drama that combines gorgeous cinematography with earnest, heartfelt performances." - Common Sense Media
Starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Lloyd.
Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this stunning epic love story stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy and is hailed by critics as "a ravishing romance." This sweeping English drama, based on the book by Ian McEwan, follows the lives of young lovers Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner. When the couple are torn apart by a lie constructed by Cecilia's jealous younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), all three of them must deal with the consequences.
From the award-winning director of Pride and Prejudice comes a stunning, critically acclaimed epic story of love. When a young girl catches her sister in a passionate embrace with a childhood friend, her jealousy drives her to tell a lie that will irrevocably change the course of all their lives forever. The film critics hailed "the year's best picture" (Thelma Adams, US Weekly).
Set during the Interwar era and during the Second World War.
Starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Saoirse Ronan, Vanessa Redgrave.
AUSTRALIA is an epic and romantic action adventure, set in that country on the explosive brink of World War II. In it, an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) travels to the faraway continent, where she meets a rough-hewn local (Hugh Jackman) and reluctantly agrees to join forces with him to save the land she inherited. Together, they embark upon a transforming journey across hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful yet unforgiving terrain, only to still face the bombing of the city of Darwin by the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor. With his new film, Baz Luhrmann is painting on a vast canvas, creating a cinematic experience that brings together romance, drama, adventure and spectacle.
Baz Luhrmann dreamed of making the Australian "Gone With the Wind," and so he has, with much of that film's lush epic beauty and some of the same awkwardness with a national legacy of racism. This is the sort of film described as a "sweeping romantic melodrama," a broad family entertainment that would never have been made without the burning obsession of its producers. Coming from a director known for his punk-rock "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" and the visual pyrotechnics of "Moulin Rouge," it is exuberantly old-fashioned, and I mean that as a compliment. - Roger Ebert
Starring Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, David Wenham.
Ballet Shoes, the movie adaptation of Noel Streatfield's classic story, traces the travails of a refreshingly functional if hardly traditional English family. There's Sylvia, the financially strapped lady of the house; her three benevolent boarders; Nana, the housekeeper; and, most important, the three orphaned girls in Sylvia's charge. When the household pulls together to secure the penniless but loaded-with-potential girls (Paulina, Petrova, and Posy) a scholarship at a rigorous, no-wimps-allowed arts academy, the girls' natural proclivities fast emerge: Posy's a gifted dancer, Paulina's a precocious actress, and Petrova has a way with engines. All three share boundless ambition and, early on, vow "to get our names in the history books without the help of relatives." Close to two hours of triumphs, tough knocks, and tantrums follow; Petrova gets discouraged, Paulina gets too big for her britches, and Posy gets the rug pulled out from under her when her masterful teacher is hospitalized. Through it all, Sylvia, Nana, and the others unselfishly cheerlead, but then the girls' road to greatness comes dangerously close to unraveling. Sylvia, no longer able to afford school necessities, may need to sell the house. Naturally, she doesn't--just in time, a plum deal plops in the girls' laps. This tidy, overlong movie ought to be sewn up then, but instead, true to the tale, it tacks on a happy, hopeful ending for all. Ballet Shoes is best suited to starry-eyed 9-year-olds and parents who wish to keep their kids' pulses low. --Tammy La Gorce
This older version of the film was made in 1975 and in my opinion is a much truer tribute to Streatfeild's classic novel. While the style is old-fashioned with long explanatory dialogues not really seen in movies nowadays, the parts are all portrayed with honesty and innocence. I especially enjoyed the performance of Mary Morris as Madame Fidolia, the classical Russian ballet teacher that features in all ballet stories of the era, played just as I feel Streatfield would have intended. - Viewer
In 1977 Ballet Shoes was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Special.
Starring Angela Thorne, Jane Slaughter, Elizabeth Morgan, Sarah Prince, Barbara Lott.
Dreams do come true…Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter) stars in Ballet Shoes, a heartwarming and uplifting film based on the beloved, best-selling novel by Noel Streatfeild and featuring an award-winning cast that includes Emilia Fox, Victoria Wood, Richard Griffiths and Eileen Atkins.
"We three Fossils vow to put our name in the history book, because it is ours, and ours alone…" With these words, three orphans, raised as sisters, leave their sheltered lives and embark on an exhilarating journey that takes them to the heights of the stage, screen and sky!
Based on the Noel Streatfeild novel Ballet Shoes, this is a 2007 BBC Northern Ireland production starring Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Richard Griffiths, Gemma Jones, and Harriet Walter. The Fossils are an unconventional British family living in 1930's London. Orphans Pauline (Emma Watson), Petrova (Yasmin Paige), and Posy (Lucy Boynton) are being raised by an elder sister Sylvia (Emilia Fox) and her Nana (Victoria Wood) in the absence of their eccentric great uncle Matthew (Richard Griffiths). As Sylvia struggles to educate and support her three charges on very limited funds, she is forced to let rooms and enroll the girls in the Academy of Dance and Stage Training in hopes of furthering their education and preparing them to earn a comfortable living. While at the academy, each of the three ambitious girls discovers her own personal calling and labors intensively to achieve her dreams: Pauline studies to become a star on the stage, Petrova gravitates toward a career in aviation, and Posy trains to become a great classical ballerina. Their paths are difficult and full of adversity, but the sisters' steadfast support of one another and common resolve to earn a place in the history books based on their own merits propels each of them toward individual success. A compelling and inspirational film that encourages young women to strive for their dreams, Ballet Shoes is most appealing to ages 9 and older. --Tami Horiuchi
Starring Emma Watson, Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Richard Griffiths, Gemma Jones.
Parents need to know that for children interested in the performing arts, this family-friendly movie and its emphasis on a rigid training regimen as a road to sure success will be appealing. A loving family comprising three girls adopted from around the world and their guardian and nanny is depicted, working together to overcome tough economic times in Britain in the 1930s. One child runs away but returns without harm. Expect plenty of era-appropriate smoking as well. - Common Sense Media
Julia Lambert (Annette Bening) is a popular but aging stage actress who is losing passion for her career. Her husband and director, Michael Gosselyn (Jeremy Irons), introduces her to a young American actor, Tom (Shaun Evans), who professes admiration for her. Julia and Tom start an affair, but soon she realizes that Tom is just using her to advance his own career and that of his other girlfriend, actress Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch). Julia befriends Avice, all the while plotting her revenge.
The film is based on Theatre, a 1937 novel by W. Somerset Maugham.
Set in London in 1938.
Starring Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, Maury Chaykin, Jeremy Irons, Leigh Lawson.
This enchanting feature-length portrayal of the life of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, focuses on her courtship by the shy, future George VI (known as Bertie), the love story that followed, and the birth of their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. The period drama opens in 1920.
James Wilby (Gosford Park) and Juliet Aubrey (Middlemarch) portray the reluctant royals who became king and queen of England when Edward VIII gave up the throne for the woman he loved, on Bertie & Elizabeth. Albert, Duke of York, called Bertie, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 after a storybook courtship. Expecting a life of genteel obscurity, they were thrust into the limelight in 1936 when Bertie’s older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Shy, modest, and a habitual stutterer, Bertie was crowned King George VI just as his country faced the onslaught of World War II. With the help of his devoted Elizabeth, he rose magnificently to the challenge.
Bertie & Elizabeth also stars Alan Bates (Love in a Cold Climate) as Bertie’s father, King George V, Eileen Atkins (Gosford Park) as his mother, Queen Mary; Charles Edwards as Edward VIII; Amber Rose Sealey as Wallis Simpson; David Ryall as Winston Churchill; Robert Hardy as President Franklin Roosevelt; and Corin Redgrave (Persuasion) as General Bernard Montgomery.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece.
Starring James Wilby, Juliet Aubrey, Alan Bates, Eileen Atkins, Charles Edwards (VI).
Atlantic City, 1920. When alcohol was outlawed, outlaws became kings. HBO presents Season One of this epic new drama series that follows the birth and rise of organized crime in ‘the world’s playground’ at the dawn of Prohibition. Steve Buscemi stars.
Set in the Interwar era in America, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s.
Starring Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Michael Kenneth Williams, Paul Sparks, Gretchen Mol, Michael Stuhlbarg, Anthony Laciura, Jack Huston, Anatol Yusef, Brady Noon, Connor Noon, Lucy Gallina, Josie Gallina, Declan McTigue, Rory McTigue, Michael Pitt.
Mature themes, including sex, violence. Contains full-frontal nudity.
Evelyn Waugh's classic novel of romantic yearning and loss became the universally acclaimed television series that viewers on both sides of the Atlantic wished would never end. Set between the wars amid the fading glory of the British Empire and great family fortunes, Brideshead is a story of youthful illusions, of exquisite earthly beauty and of divine grace. Takes place between 1922 and 1944.
“Perhaps no other television program or film has captured the experience of a place over time with such lyricism and sophistication. This lyricism is, however, tempered with a sense that the beauty fetishized by the protagonist, Charles Ryder, is a facade. The historical, cultural and personal forces that wear away at Ryder are unveiled at the same time as his self-deception becomes apparent.” - Mark Broughton
“Flawless performances”—The New York Times
“One of the most remarkable adaptations from literature ever produced for television” —The Associated Press
The British costume drama was originally shown on television in 11 episodes.
Starring Jeremy Irons, Kenneth Cranham, Diana Quick, Roger Milner.
Note: There is also a movie version of Brideshead Revisited (2008), but it pales in comparison to the original.
An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies," is a look into the lives of a young novelist, his would-be lover, and a host of young people who beautified London in the 1930s.
During the 1930s in England, a group of young socialites dominate the national gossip with extravagant and outlandish antics. Among the group is the aspiring novelist Adam Fenwick-Symes, who is attempting to raise enough money to marry fellow member Nina Blount. However, after customs officials confiscate his first manuscript, Fenwick-Symes must recover from the financial setback and figure out new ways to earn money for a wedding.
Starring Dan Aykroyd, Emily Mortimer, Stephen McHattie, Stockard Channing, Peter O'Toole, Stephen Campbell Moore
Jodie Foster stars in British musical gangster movie with only kid actors. Set in New York, the film is loosely based on events from the early 1920s to 1931 during Prohibition, specifically the exploits of real-life gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran, as dramatized in cinema. Parker lightened the subject matter considerably for the children's market. Instead of real bullets they use "splurge guns" that cover the victim in cream.
As a spoof of serious mobster movies like The Godfather, Bugsy Malone is a delight, with some excellent performances by child actors. Sure, the plot is silly, but it's meant to be. After all, what could be less scary and threatening than a gun that shoots what looks like spit balls? And it's fun to watch the whole cast degenerate into the equivalent of a food fight at the end. These are just kids, the film makes clear.
This is a very cute and enjoyable movie, quite possibly the only one in a very small sub-genre in the genre of gangster films-a musical gangster movie cast entirely with children. The cast is notable principally by the presence of Jodie Foster (as a side note, this was released the same year as was Taxi Driver!) and Scott Baio, the musical score was done by Paul Wiliams (who was nominated for an Oscar for his efforts here) and the costumes are quite nice. - Robert Reynolds
Starring Scott Baio, Jodie Foster.
Note: "Where the film seems less clear about the age of its stars is in its treatment of the tween girls in the film. Girls who have yet to develop any curves say they're "watching their weight," chorus girls perform slightly sexy dance moves, and Tallulah sings to the men that they "don't have to be lonely." Yikes. Kids watching it may not be aware of what that means, but parents may want to talk to their young children about it." - Common Sense Media
Rated G. Common Sense Media recommends it for kids 8 and up.
Clint Eastwood directs Oscar winner Angelina Jolie and Oscar nominee John Malkovich in a riveting and unforgettable true story. Los Angeles, 1928. When single mother Christine Collins (Jolie) leaves for work, her son vanishes without a trace. Five months later, the police reunite mother and son; but he isn’t her boy. Driven by one woman’s relentless quest for the truth, the case exposes a world of corruption, captivates the public and changes Los Angeles forever. This emotionally gripping story illustrates the profound power of a mother’s love in “a mesmerizing film that burns in the memory” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).
Changeling is a powerful film, with a realistic period feel, a wonderfully muted vibe and color palette, and an understated score by Eastwood himself. --Sam Graham
Rich in authentic-looking period detail and punctuated with powerful acting, Eastwood's tale holds you in its firm, grim grip. - America Profile
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, Colm Feore.
Note: There are some disturbing scenes in the telling of this true tragic story.
In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics.
In this Academy Award winner for Best Picture, two very different men on the same team vie to win Olympic gold to demonstrate to the world the worth of their deeply held--and strongly opposing--convictions. Yet a friendship builds between the two in this true story that is as strong as their desire to win in Chariots of Fire. Paris Olympics, 1924. Scotsman Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson--Gandhi) competes to prove the superiority of this Christian faith, while his teammate, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross--Exorcist: The Beginning), a Jewish Englishman, is driven to win to show the world that Jews are not inferior people. But as different as they two competitors are, the bond that develops between them reveals to both how complex their true motives are . . . and how much they really have in common.
"Like many great films, “Chariots of Fire” takes its nominal subjects as occasions for much larger statements about human nature. “Chariots of Fire” is one of the best films of recent years, a memory of a time when men still believed you could win a race if only you wanted to badly enough." - Roger Ebert
Starring Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll.
England, 1932. Today is Dolly Thatchum's wedding day, and her family is arriving at the manor house with all the cheerfulness, chaos and grievances that accompany such gatherings. Trouble soon appears in the shape of Joseph, Dolly s lover from the previous summer, who throws her feelings into turmoil. But Dolly s mother (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey) will not allow her carefully laid plans for her daughter s future to be threatened. As the clock ticks and the guests grow more and more restless, the bride-to-be must decide whether to run away with Joseph or settle into the humdrum security of married life.
Starring Felicity Jones, Elizabeth McGovern, Eva Traynor, Luke Treadaway.
Note: This "refined comedy" won't be for everyone, but there are some nice period details and fans of Elizabeth McGovern will be pleased.
Juliet Stevenson heads the cast in this prestigious film adaptation of Laurie Lee's classic novel Cider With Rosie. Set in 1918 in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside, Cider With Rosie conjures up a world of earthy warmth and beauty as it follows Laurie Lee's renowned tale from childhood to adolescence and the awakening of manhood. Cider with Rosie is not only a classic tale of childhood, but also an elegy to a passing era. Faithful to the book.
The film features narration by Laurie Lee himself taken from an unabridged recording of the book. Set in the years immediately after World War I, Cider with Rosie captures a vanished era. "I belonged to that generation which saw, by chance, the end of a thousand years' life," wrote Lee of his upbringing with eight siblings and a single mother in a semi-feudal world of candlelight, horse carts, and profound solitude.
"With a script by the talented John Mortimer ("Rumpole of the Bailey"), a superbly chosen cast and Charles Beeson's supple, sensitive direction, this 90-minute evocation of vanished pastoralism makes for compelling -- albeit unapologetically sentimental -- television." - Variety
Shown on PBS Masterpiece.
Starring Juliet Stevenson, Dashiell Reece, Joe Roberts, David Troughton, Emily Mortimer.
A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in the Cotswolds during and immediately after the First World War. A poetic journey through the idyll of his early years and into the intensity of adolescent experiences, Cider With Rosie is the quintessential coming-of-age story. Based on the novel by Laurie Lee.
"A lyrical, languid and poetic adaptation... a worthy and gently intoxicating addition." - Telegraph
Starring Archie Cox, June Whitfield, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, Timothy Spall, Samantha Morton, Georgie Smith.
Note: The BBC also produced the 94 minute long Cider with Rosie (1971) starring Rosemary Leach, Stephen Grendon, Philip Hawkes.
One of the most widely acclaimed drama series television has ever produced, these adaptations of short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates present provocative and heartwarming tales set against the vast English countryside during the post-World War I period. Featuring stunning locations and star-studded casts, these eight lavish dramas reveal the timeless and constant qualities of the British landscape and its people.
Based on short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates, this Country Matters collection includes eight of the 50-minute episodes that helped form Masterpiece Theater's hybrid theater/television identity as go-to programming for understanding Great Britain. Country Matters portrays mostly tragic romance, set in rural England just after the first World War. Each episode provides accurate and fascinating costume and set design to illustrate the class differences, living habits, and manners of Brits in various regions, giving viewers a deeper knowledge of the culture clash that has occurred within this tradition-bound society. "Craven Arms" stars Ian McKellen as David, a figure-drawing teacher in love with three of his beauteous students, Kate, Nancy, and Julia. Suffering from what he calls his lack of "constancy," David's inability to commit takes him nowhere except on a lonely journey. Alice in "The Mill," a 17-year-old ditched by her parents to earn her keep on a nearby farm, also suffers through lonely sexual exploration. The first disc, also including "The Sullen Sisters" about two sisters, Lindy and Rachel, feuding over Tommy, an extremely young boy, offers little in the way of cheerful love. "The Little Farm" on disc two provides the first glimpse of short-term romantic success, as Edna Johnson (Barbara Ewing) moves onto Tom Richards' (Brian Marshall) farm, transforming his veritable pigsty with her woman's touch. "The Higgler" also hints at fleeting emotional uplift as higgler, Harvey (Keith Krinkel) is invited to befriend an educated lady, Mary (Sheila Rusgrove). Each story unravels slowly, quietly, and in dark rooms oft lit by lantern to show what life's pace used to be. While some episodes are more riveting than others, slight action is well compensated for by meticulous script and acting. Like the best in British drama, these short story adaptations rely on dialogue to enliven characters rather than showy special effects or bawdy sex. Country Matters certainly opens a window into the past, which feels like respite from today's cinematic overload. --Trinie Dalton
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Starring Ian McKellan, Peter Firth, Joss Ackland, Pauline Collins, Trevor Bannister.
Kate Mundy (Meryl Streep) is the eldest of five sisters living together in a small house in Ireland in 1936. The only one with a steady job, Kate oversees the various conflicting personalities. Though none of the women is married, Christina (Catherine McCormack) has a young son named Michael. The household works well in its fashion, but after the sisters' addle-minded brother, Jack (Michael Gambon), shows up, then Michael's father, Gerry, things are unlikely to stay the same.
This affecting, bittersweet tale--adapted from Brian Friel's semi-autobiographical Tony Award-winning play--examines the emotional lives of the five unmarried Mundy sisters in 1936 rural Ireland. In their mutual care is 8-year-old Michael (sweetly understated Darrell Johnston), the illegitimate son of youngest sister Christina (Braveheart's Catherine McCormack). A voice-over from the adult Michael recalls that significant summer, in the month of August, during the feast of Lughnasa. The bolder townfolk dance around a fire to Lugh, an ancient god of light. Yes, this is fiercely Roman Catholic Ireland and Lugh a pagan god, but that irony is at the core of the film, the hypocrisy of tradition. The dramatic change in the richly metaphoric movie comes with the arrival of two men: eldest sibling--and only Mundy brother--Jack (Michael Gambon), a priest returning from many years in Africa, now addled, and Christine's long-absent lover and Michael's father, the charmingly flighty Gerry (Rhys Ifans). Beautiful music and excellent performances highlight the film, which also features gorgeous cinematography of the Irish countryside. Meryl Streep is stern eldest sister Kate; Kathy Burke is lively Maggie; Brid Brennan (who appeared in the stage play) is thoughtful caretaker Agnes; and Sophie Thompson is simple sweet Rose. It's a quiet film, but one filled with ironic and haunting meaning. Directed by Pat O'Connor (Circle of Friends). --N.F. Mendoza
Starring Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Catherine McCormack, Kathy Burke, Brid Brennan, Rhys Ifans.
Biography of the life of composer and songwriter Cole Porter, a kid from Indiana who became a household name. The focus is how Porter, a gay man, found his inspiration from the woman he married, socialite Linda Lee Porter.
Set beginning in 1919 in the Interwar era.
"In voice, manner, patrician charm and private torment, Kevin Kline is perfection as legendary composer Cole Porter." – Rolling Stone
Starring Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Alan Corduner, Sandra Nelson, Keith Allen, James Wilby, Kevin McKidd.
While studying to be a doctor in Moscow, Yuri Zhivago meets the beautiful Lara, setting in train a fateful romance that spans the early years of the Russian Revolution, during which Zhivago and Lara's lives are turned upside down. This epic, sweeping romance, told in flashback, captures the lushness of Moscow before the war and the violent social upheaval that followed.
Winner of five Academy Awards (and nominated for ten, including "Best Picture") David Lean's Doctor Zhivago is an exploration of the Russian Revolution as seen from the point of view of the intellectual, introspective title character (Omar Sharif).
Based on Boris Pasternak's 1957 largely autobiographical Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Set between the years prior to World War I and the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922.
Starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay.
A a young Russian doctor named Yury falls deeply in love with Lara, a nurse who cares for him after he is wounded in World War I. But the outbreak of the Russian Revolution forces them to part. Yury returns home to his wife, Tonya, and Lara, convinced that her own husband, Pasha, has been killed, returns to her daughter.
Scottish actor Hans Matheson (Mists of Avalon) stars as the dreamy poet-physician Yury Zhivago, with Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice) as the love of his life, Lara Antipova and Sam Neill (The Piano) as Victor Komarovsky, Lara's seducer and stalker -- a political chameleon who comes out on top no matter who is in power.
The story begins in Tsarist Russia in the early 1900s and is set primarily against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Russian Civil War of 1918–1921.
The 2 episode mini-series was adapted by Andrew Davies and is based on the 1957 novel of the same title by Boris Pasternak.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Starring Sam Neill, Kiera Knightley, Alexandra Maria Lara, Hans Matheson.
Written and created by Academy Award-winner Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey has garnered a plethora of praise from critics and fans worldwide. The acclaimed ensemble cast brings to life all the drama and intrigue of the inhabitants of Downton Abbey, the lavish English country manor, home to the Earls of Grantham since 1772. A Golden Globe and multi-Emmy Award-winning series, following the Crawley family and their servants from pre-war England through the storms of World War I, and into the social upheaval of England in the Roaring 1920s as the lives of its inhabitants are shaped by romance, heartbreak, scandals, rumors, blackmail, and betrayal.
"Compulsively watchable from the get-go." - Variety
"An instant classic." - The New York Times
Starring Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery.
Set between 1912 and 1925, Downton Abbey spans the Edwardian Era, World War I, and the Interwar era.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Note: The first series of seven episodes explores the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their servants beginning the day after the historic sinking of the RMS Titanic, April 1912. The second series comprised eight episodes and ran from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the 1918 flu pandemic. Series Three of Downton Abbey is composed of eight episodes in addition to a Christmas special. It spans through the year 1920, and ends in 1921. Series four continued the story of the Crawley family and their servants and covers February 1922 into the spring/summer of 1923. Series five covers the months from February to December 1924. Series six picks up six months after the end of Series 5, in 1925. The final episode ends on New Year's Eve, 1925.
Highclere Castle in north Hampshire is used for exterior shots of Downton Abbey and most of the interior filming. Outdoor scenes are filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire. First World War trench warfare scenes in France were filmed in a specially constructed replica battlefield for period war scenes near the village of Akenham in rural Suffolk. Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland, was the filming location used for Brancaster Castle in the 2014 Christmas special, which included filming in Alnwick Castle's State Rooms, as well as on the castle's grounds, and at the nearby semi-ruined Hulne Abbey on the Duke of Northumberland's parklands in Alnwick.
A 'tremendous amount of research' went into recreating the servants quarters at Ealing Studios because Highclere Castle, where many of the 'upstairs' scenes are filmed, 'was not adequate for representing the "downstairs" life at the fictional abbey'. Researchers visited 'nearly 40 English country houses' to help 'inform what the kitchen should look like', and production designer Donal Woods said of the kitchen equipment that 'Probably about 60 to 70 percent of the stuff in there is from that period'. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management is an 'important guide' to the food served in the series', but Highclere owner, and author of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, Lady Carnarvon, states that dinner parties in the era 'would have been even more over the top' than those shown. However, she understands the compromises that must be made for television, and adds, "It’s a fun costume drama. It’s not a social documentary.
A fictionalised account of Alice Liddell, the child who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the story is told from the point of view of the elderly Alice (now the widowed Mrs Hargreaves) as she travels to the United States from England to receive an honorary degree from Columbia University celebrating the centenary of Lewis Carroll's birth. The film evolves from the factual to the hallucinatory as Alice revisits her memories of the Reverend Charles Dodgson (Holm), in Victorian-era Oxford to her immediate present in Depression-era New York. Accompanied by a shy young orphan named Lucy (Cowper), old Alice must make her way through the modern world of tabloid journalism and commercial exploitation while attempting to come to peace with her conflicted childhood with the Oxford don.
"Dreamchild" is a remarkable film in many ways, not least because it gives itself such freedom of style and subject matter. For example, all of the creatures in Alice's fantasies appear as muppetlike creations done by Jim Henson and his Creature Shop, but they are not Muppets. The movie has some subtle points to make with them. At the same time, "Dreamchild" is not unremittingly grim, and it is not just a case study. The newspaper world of New York in the 1930s is re-created with style and humor, and the love story between the two young people is handled with a lot of cheerful energy. "Dreamchild" is an ambitious movie that tries to do a lot of things, and does most of them surprisingly well. - Roger Ebert
Starring Coral Browne, Ian Holm, Peter Gallagher.
Note: This is not a film for children. The Depression-era setting of the film is in 1932, when Alice turned 80, and the flashbacks take place about 70 years prior, in Victorian England.
After she wins an auto race in Monaco, vivacious American Larita (Jessica Biel) impulsively marries John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), the son of British aristocrats. Though John's father (Colin Firth) welcomes Larita, Mrs. Whittaker (Kristin Scott Thomas) and her daughters make it their mission to drive her away from the family fold.
"A winning, witty fox trot through the Roaring 20s, when men were men, women were liberating themselves and the 'to the manner born' were losing their grip on their manners -- and manors." - Orlando Sentinel
Starring Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Kimberley Nixon.
Note: This got mixed reviews but it is another chance at watching Colin Firth.
On the evening of December 11, 1936, England's King Edward VIII formally broadcast his farewell to a nation. Torn between duty and love, he had decided to follow his heart. A powerful fairytale made all the more compelling because it actually happened, Edward & Mrs. Simpson captures the unforgettable romance that develops between the Prince of Wales and an extraordinary American woman named Wallis Simpson. That she is already married and believed to have had previous affairs ruffles more than a few feathers. The scandal heats up when the Prince becomes King and declares his intention to marry his mistress, who has since divorced and become quite available.
Features seven episodes shot in sumptuous period detail.
Starring Edward Fox, Cynthia Harris, David Waller, Peggy Ashcroft, Nigel Hawthorne.
Two proper Englishwomen, determined to get away from their drab lives and inattentive husbands, find paradise among the serene countryside of the Italian Riviera in this enchanting adventure starring Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire). When the pair rents a magnificent villa for a month, they share expenses with two unlikely companions an austere widow and a bored socialite. At first, personalities clash, but the hideaway holds a special magic that soon sparks friendships and reminds the women of ways to live and love that have long eluded them. Stellar performances and breathtaking scenery make the Academy Award nominated Enchanted April (1992: Best Supporting Actress, Joan Plowright; Best Costume Design; Best Adapted Screenplay) a captivating delight for everyone who s ever dreamed of taking the perfect holiday.
This lovely, 1991 adaptation of Elizabeth Von Arnim's novel has a superb cast and a tone so mellow you can feel your pulse get slower. Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson play a pair of unhappily married women who rent an Italian villa for a month, sharing the rent with a crusty Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) and a lonely aristocrat (Polly Walker). Sun, rest, sinking into the green grass for long naps--they all have a soulful effect on the quartet, and then on the men in their lives who make a surprise visit. Mike Newell (Into the West) directs with seeming effortlessness, and it is impossible not to be swayed by the promise of restoration for these burdened characters--or for anyone alive. Wonderful performances all around, including a particularly sensitive one by Alfred Molina and a very funny one by Jim Broadbent. --Tom Keogh
Starring Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Alfred Molina, Neville Phillips, Jim Broadbent.
Note: Enchanted April was previously adapted for the screen from the novel by "Elisabeth" and play by Kane Campbell. Enchanted April (1935) stars Reginald Owen, Ann Harding, Frank Morgan, Katharine Alexander, Jane Baxter.
Although Marius (Horst Buchholz) loves his beautiful girlfriend, Fanny (Leslie Caron), he nonetheless chooses to leave her for a life of adventure on the high seas. Pregnant with Marius's child, Fanny finds comfort in the arms of elderly suitor Panisse (Maurice Chevalier). Renowned stage and screen director Joshua Logan helms this romantic drama, which was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Charles Boyer. The story takes place in 1920's Marseille, France and is based on the play which is in turn based on the Marseille trilogy by M Pagnol.
Starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer, Lionel Jeffries.
Can a spirited young orphan find love and fulfillment in an unhappy, decaying mansion? Perky heroine Christina transforms life at Flambards in this series, based on the popular trilogy of novels by K. M. Peyton. Her arrival throws off the class-conscious pattern of life in her uncle's male-dominated household, and nothing will ever be quite the same again, for any of them. Set in England in the early 1900s. 660 minutes
Shown on PBS.
This pre-post WW1 period piece follows development of aviation, wartime trials and tribulations of landed gentry and post war social changes in charming, exciting, and occasionally sad history of young British with lovely musical score throughout. Outstanding social commentaries of German POWs in England during the war and changes of social structure during and following the conflict. Dashing young aviators, wonderful flying scenes, romances, tragedies and generational progression.
Set in the Edwardian era, and during and after the First World War.
Starring Christine McKenna, Rosalie Williams, Steven Grives.
In a small German town in the immediate aftermath of WWI, Anna (Paula Beer) grieves for her late fiancé, Frantz. When she encounters a mysterious young Frenchman (Pierre Niney) laying flowers at Frantz's grave, Anna welcomes him into her life and their shared connection to Frantz propels a haunting and romantic tale of guilt and forgiveness in the shadow of war.
Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, (1914-1918), Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war s lost generation : Anna (21 year-old Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney, Yves Saint Laurent), a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz s grave. Adrien's presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks. What follows is a surprising exploration of how Ozon's characters wrestle with their conflicting feelings - survivor s guilt, anger at one s losses, the overriding desire for happiness despite everything that has come before, and the longing for sexual, romantic and familial attachments. Ozon drew his inspiration from Ernst Lubitsch s 1932 drama Broken Lullaby, with stunning visual references to painter Caspar David Friedrich.
"Astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive. it s impossible to deny the sheer narrative sophistication." --Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Starring Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber.
On one of trapped housewife Evelyn Couch's (Kathy Bates) Wednesday nursing home visits, she encounters Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy), a colorful old woman who brightens Evelyn's outlook by sharing tales from her past. As Ninny recounts the exploits of her free-spirited sister-in-law Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson), owner of a small Alabama café in the 1920s, and the bond Idgie shared with her friend Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker), Evelyn gains the confidence to change her own life for the better.
Based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, the book and the movie tell the story of two friendships between women - one in the Depression era and one in the 1980s.
Starring Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, Jessica Tandy, Cicely Tyson, Chris O'Donnell, Stan Shaw, Gailard Sartain, Timothy Scott.
Sir Ben Kingsley stars as Mohandas Gandhi in Lord Richard Attenborough's riveting biography of the man who rose from simple lawyer to worldwide symbol of peace and understanding. A critical masterpiece, GANDHI is an intriguing story about activism, politics, religious tolerance and freedom. But at the center of it all is an extraordinary man who fought for a nonviolent, peaceful existence, and set an entire nation free.
Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 multiple-Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley) is an engrossing, reverential look at the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who introduced the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to the colonized people of India and who ultimately gained the nation its independence. Kingsley is magnificent as Gandhi as he changes over the course of the three-hour film from an insignificant lawyer to an international leader and symbol. Strong on history (the historic division between India and Pakistan, still a huge problem today, can be seen in its formative stages here) as well as character and ideas, this is a fine film. --Tom Keogh
Set beginning in the 1890s in the Victorian era, and spanning the Edwardian, First World War, Interwar, Second World War and Postwar eras until 1948.
Starring Edward Fox, Trevor Howard, Candice Bergen, Ben Kingsley, John Mills.
Ann, an inexperienced governess, looks after two young orphans in a seemingly quaint country home. But brother and sister Miles and Flora carry secrets. Soon, the home is filled with supernatural apparitions. In a haunting tale of suspense and murder, the ghosts relentlessly pursue those who believe in them — and curse those who do not. Anyone who says there’s nothing to fear has never lived here.
Downton Abbey stars Michelle Dockery, Sue Johnston, and Dan Stevens lead the cast in this sinister tale of unspoken horror and psychological terrors. Henry James’s gripping ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, is vividly brought to life in this ethereal adaptation from the BBC.
Set in London in 1921.
Starring Michelle Dockery, Sue Johnston, Dan Stevens, Mark Umbers, Nicola Walker.