A list of the top period films available on DVD and to stream that take place during the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and beyond Edward’s death to include the four years leading up to World War I: Edwardian era (1901 to 1914). 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. More to come!
For the lists of the best period dramas and recommended documentaries in additional eras, wander over to: What To Watch: The Period Films List
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Revealing the complex behind-closed-doors story of the final weeks before the outbreak of World War I.
This three-part political thriller follows the catastrophic chain of events leading up to World War I from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 to Britain's declaration of war on Germany 37 days later. This tense and gripping mini-series set among the corridors of power in Whitehall and Berlin tracks the unfolding crisis through the eyes of leading politicians and civil servants struggling to prevent the world's first global war. 37 Days unlocks the mystery of the war's origins, overturning assumptions about its inevitability, demonstrating that World War One was neither a chance happening nor was it a foregone conclusion.
Set in Georgian era the five weeks between the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo and the outbreak of the First World War.
Starring Ian McDiarmid, Tim Piggott-Smith, Sinead Cusack, Ludger Pistor.
Wounded Boer War veteran Paul Craddock (Nigel Havers, Chariots of Fire) arrives at Shallowford House in 1902 to establish himself as squire of Sorrell Valley. With the assistance of property manager John Rudd (Glyn Houston, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Paul learns the ropes and tries his best to balance running a successful estate and being a compassionate landowner.
Paul is immediately captivated by two of the valley's women: Grace Lovell (Fiona Gaunt, War & Peace), a suffragette with a fierce temper, and sensitive Claire Derwent (Prunella Ransome, Far from the Madding Crowd). Following the outbreak of the First World War, Paul has to work even harder to manage Shallowford.
Set in the pastoral landscape of Devon and adapted from the novel by R.F. Delderfield (To Serve Them All My Days), this gripping miniseries pays tribute to the last days of traditional English country life through almost two decades of joyous occasions, devastating losses, and enduring love.
Set in the Edwardian era and during the First World War.
Starring Nigel Havers, Glyn Houston, Fiona Gaunt, Prunella Ransome.
A teenage girl with a vivid imagination knows what she wants and fearlessly goes after it in Angel, a loving tribute to the power of desire. Angel Deverell (Romola Garai, Emma, Atonement), the daughter of a grocer, fantasizes about living in the town mansion, Paradise House. She interests a London publisher (Sam Neill, The Tudors, Jurassic Park) in her romantic novel, and he manages to turn the over-the-top melodrama into a bestseller - allowing Angel to buy Paradise House and pursue the man of her dreams, a painter (Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds) struggling for his own big break. The first English-language film from the prolific and unpredictable French director Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool, 8 Women, Under the Sand), the vibrant, sumptuous Angel also stars his frequent muse, Charlotte Rampling.
Why you may wish to watch it: The terrific cast, magnificent costumes and sumptuous visuals, set in the Edwardian period. "A film that's a total mess, but in kind of a beautiful way." - Brian Tallerico
Why you may wish to skip it: "Angel makes it clear early on that the title character, Angel Deverell, has only a micron of talent. But stripped of any irony, let alone wit, the movie ends up as empty and flowery as the literature (and person) it should be satirizing. At no point does Garai make the fame-struck, self-absorbed Angel likable or even sympathetic." - Variety
Starring Romola Garai, Michael Fassbender, Sam Neill, Charlotte Rampling, Lucy Russell.
On April 14, 1912, just before midnight, the unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg. In less than three hours, it had plunged to the bottom of the sea, taking with it more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. In his unforgettable rendering of Walter Lord’s book of the same name, A Night to Remember, the acclaimed British director Roy Ward Baker (Don’t Bother to Knock) depicts with sensitivity, awe, and a fine sense of tragedy the ship’s final hours. Featuring remarkably restrained performances, A Night to Remember is cinema’s subtlest, finest dramatization of this monumental twentieth-century catastrophe. Part of the Criterion Collection.
In black and white.
1950s British take on Titanic tragedy is a masterpiece. - Brian Costello
A restrained, nearly austere ensemble drama that manages to intertwine a dozen different stories without tripping up on any of them, it relies on real-life survivor testimony for almost every line and incident, to immensely moving and dignified effect. - Guardian
This remarkable picture is a brilliant and moving account of the behavior of the people on the Titanic on that night that should never be forgotten. It is an account of the casualness and flippancy of most of the people right after the great ship has struck (even though an ominous cascade of water is pouring into her bowels); of the slow accumulation of panic that finally mounts to a human holocaust, of shockingly ugly bits of baseness and of wonderfully brave and noble deeds. - NYT
Starring Kenneth More, Honor Blackman, Michael Goodliffe, David McCallum, Tucker McGuire.
Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables, previously filmed in 1934, was afforded a TV-movie treatment in 1985. Megan Follows stars as 13-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan girl sent to live with a foster family on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Though she has great difficulty controlling her temper, impulsiveness and vivid imagination, Anne eventually wins over her new guardians, domineering Marilla Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst) and Marilla's shy brother Matthew (Richard Farnsworth). Anne's secondary adventures concern her "bosom friend" Diana (Schuyler Grant) and her supposed enemy Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie). Offered on American television as a 3-part presentation on PBS' Wonderworks, 1986.
A startling beautiful film of style an substance. - San Francisco Chronicle
Starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farsnworth.
Note: Anne of Green Gables is followed by Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (Anne of Avonlea) which was well received and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, which was not. The BBC has their own 1975 version of Anne of Avonlea based on the books "Anne of Avonlea" and "Anne of the Island" and is a 6-episode, 5-hour mini-series. The 1972 BBC adaptation of Anne of Green Gables doesn't appear to be available on DVD but does still air on BBC. You may also wish to check out Anne of Green Gables (1934), called "magical family entertainment, manufactured with such genuine humanity and feeling and humor that it is equally fascinating for old and young". - NYT
Another Life is based on a true story. Set in Edwardian London, it is the colourful and intensely moving account of Edith Thompson, a woman involved in an affair and wrongly accused of the murder of her husband, a case which became a major 'cause celebre' of its time.
A scandalous murder case that was the talk of England in the 1920s is brought to the screen in this period drama based on fact. In 1913, Edith Graydon (Natasha Little) was a young woman living with her family -- good-natured father (Michael Bertenshaw), emotionally distant mother (Imelda Staunton), and shy younger sister (Rachael Stirling) -- in a fading middle-class neighborhood in London. While not especially bright or ambitious, Edith wanted more out of life than her family's situation would provide, and with this in mind she accepted the marriage proposal of her boyfriend Percy Thompson (Nick Moran). While Percy was a bit better off than Edith's family, he was not an especially interesting or exciting partner, and after several years Edith began to grow restless with their marriage. Long regarded as something of a flirt, in 1921 Edith renewed her friendship with Freddy Bywaters (Ioan Gruffudd), a good-looking and worldly former beau who had just returned to England after serving in the Queen's Navy. Edith and Freddy were not destined to remain just friends for long, and as they began to enter into a passionate affair, Edith began writing a series of letters to her lover in which she confided her ardor for Freddy, her fatigue with Percy -- and her belief that murdering her husband would solve a great many problems. Shot in 1999, Another Life did not receive a theatrical release until 2001, when it arrived in British theaters and earned enthusiastic reviews for Natasha Little's performance as Edith. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Ilford, October 1922: Percy Thompson is fatally stabbed by Freddy Bywaters, his wife Edith's lover and the couple's former lodger. The subsequent murder trial of both Edith and Bywaters was a media sensation and the judgment (she was hanged) so controversial that the Home Office closed the case files for 100 years. The focus here is on an independent-minded woman who didn't fit with the bourgeois mores of her time: a would-be free spirit who, as a milliner's book-keeper, earned more than her husband, and fantasised about killing him when she took a lover. Natasha Little's sterling performance combines the cowed suburbanite and the lusty daydreamer, making Edie as captivating as she needs to be for the film's emotional pay-off. There are, however, a few sticky moments. The visualisation of Edith's homicidal musings lacks the necessary subtle delineation of fantasy/reality, and writer/director Goodhew's deft way with dialogue sometimes deserts him when there's a point to prod home. Still, accomplished support from Moran's dull-stick husband and Wilkinson's mercurial milliner earn a measure of goodwill, and the rich material spurs an overriding sense of injustice. - Time Out London
Starring Natasha Little, Nick Moran, Ioan Gruffudd, Tom Wilkinson.
Note: Not suitable for children.
Germany, 1912. Friedrich (Richard Madden, Cinderella), a graduate of humble origins, takes up a clerical post in a steel factory, soon becoming the elderly owner Karl s (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter) private secretary and boarder. There he meets Lotte (Rebecca Hall, Iron Man 3), Karl's reserved and beautiful young wife. Starting an illicit romance, the two young lovers dreams are dashed when Karl announces he s sending his secretary to oversee his mines in Mexico. But Lotte makes a promise to Friedrich: when he returns in two years, she will be his no matter what. With the later outbreak of World War I prohibiting his return to Germany, Friedrich must wait eight long years before returning to Europe and finding out if the woman he pines for has kept her promise during that brutal passage of time. With lush period detail, director Patrice Leconte s A PROMISE is a sumptuous testament to the enduring power of love.
Why you may wish to watch it: Some nice visuals, including the early-1900s accouterments supplied by costume designer Pascaline Chavanne.
Why you may wish to skip it: Performances from Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall and Richard Madden called lackluster.
Set in the Edwardian era and during World War I.
Starring Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman and Richard Madden.
Merchant Ivory Productions, led by director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant (Howards End), became a household name with A Room with a View, the first of their extraordinary adaptations of E. M. Forster novels. A cherubic nineteen-year-old Helena Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, a young, independent-minded, upper-class Edwardian woman who is trying to sort out her burgeoning romantic feelings, divided between an enigmatic free spirit (Leaving Las Vegas’s Julian Sands) she meets on vacation in Florence and the priggish bookworm (Lincoln’s Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back in the more corseted Surrey. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this gargantuan art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast—including Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Judi Dench (Philomena), Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)—and remains a touchstone of intelligent romantic cinema.
This is incredibly fresh and arresting film-making: moving and amusing, swooningly romantic and socially ferocious – nothing less than a full-frontal (in every way) assault on your soul. - The Guardian
Note: The 1985 Oscar-winning Merchant Ivory production of A Room with a View is one of the best loved British films of the past few decades, and for good reasons: it is lovely to look at, the story makes us think and feel, it is brilliantly acted and an apt adaptation of the book.
A fresh and poignant adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic novel, A Room with a View tells the story of the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch in 1912 Florence, Italy. Longing to burst free from the repression of British upper class manners and mores, she must wrestle with her inner romantic longings to choose between the passionate George and the priggish but socially suitable Cecil.
"[Elaine] Cassidy gives an exceptionally natural performance as Lucy, engaging in the age-old and very Jane Austin-ish internal battle between heart and head." - Brian Lowry, Variety
"As always with these English productions, the scenery is sumptuous, the settings lavish, the acting impeccable." - Robert P. Laurence, SanDiego.com
Starring Elizabeth McGovern, Timothy Spall, Sophie Thompson, Elaine Cassidy, Laurence Fox.
Shown on Masterpiece Theatre. An IWC / WGBH Boston Co-production.
Note: The screenplay for this adaptation was written by Andrew Davies ("Without spoiling the period feel, we wanted A Room with a View to feel modern in terms of the relationships and emotions.") It was not received fantastically well, on two accounts: 1) The Merchant Ivory 1986 film was just so splendid, and this version seems pale in comparison, and 2) based on a postscript Forster wrote in 1958, imagining what might have happened to the characters, Davies has written a new ending.
"But, despite the Davies-isms, conversely, his version is more true to EM Forster's novel and its themes and it brings out the class issue more." - The Guardian
A country girl has a brief, life-shattering moment when she falls for a young lawyer. Adapted from John Galsworthy s The Apple Tree, the film tells of the relationship between a young London lawyer, Frank Ashton (James Wilby, Handful of Dust) and Megan David (Imogen Stubbs, True Colors), the innocent girl who helps him during his recovery from a twisted ankle at the farm where she lives. The attraction between the two is overpowering and vow never to be parted. But Frank goes to Torquay where he meets an old schoolfriend and his lovely sister Stella (Sophie Ward). Thus, Frank s plans become muddled and Megan comes looking for him.
Two young gentlemen from London are wandering through the Devon countryside in their walking tweeds on a summer day in 1902 when one of them twists his ankle. In search of help, he looks up to find a beautiful country lass in a simple frock, homespun apron and straw hat. She is carrying a sheaf of wheat. The girl, named Megan (Imogen Stubbs), takes the apple-cheeked Frank Ashton (James Wilby) home to a stone-walled, thatch-roofed farmhouse nestled in a breathtakingly scenic valley. He rents a room from Megan's Auntie (Susannah York) and settles in to recuperate. Frank so throws himself into the spirit of things that he attends the local sheep-shearing festivities. That same evening, on a bed of sheep cuttings, that Megan and Frank realize they have fallen in love. What happens next in ''A Summer Story" should be left undisclosed, but the film aspires to a four-hankie ending. Those hankies had better be pure linen. - NYT
Starring James Wilby, Imogen Stubbs, Susannah York, Jerome Flynn, Sophie Ward.
In A Sunday in the Country, an elderly French impressionist painter who spends a summer day with his adult children and their offspring at his country house. During the course of the day, the painter comes to grips with his children, who never really fulfill his ideals. This leisurely-paced, beautifully photographed character study may move a little slow for some tastes, yet it is a gorgeous and moving tale.
This celebrated French film explores family dynamics in a clan on the eve of World War I. Monsieur Ladmiral (Louis Ducreux) is an elderly, widowed painter who lives on a rambling estate outside Paris. During a visit from his son, Gonzague (Michel Aumont), Ladmiral hints that Gonzague is too complacent in life and wishes that his son was more like his free-spirited daughter Irene (Sabine Azéma). Ladmiral wants to be freer, too. When Irene joins them, tensions among the family members rise.
"A Sunday in the Country has a haunting, sweet, sad quality. It is about this family, and many families. It is told by Tavernier with great attention to detail, and the details add up to the way life is. To see Tavernier's work is to feel closer to life... a graceful and delicate story about the hidden currents in a family." - Roger Ebert
The story takes place during a Sunday in the late summer of 1912.
Starring Sabine Azema, Michel Aumont, Genevieve Mnich, Monique Chaumette, Louis Ducreux.
In French with English subtitles.
Set in the early 1900s, Elia Kazan's first film centers on a poor Brooklyn family struggling not only to survive, but to improve their meager existence. Young Francie (Peggy Ann Garner) worships her father, Johnny (James Dunn), despite his alcoholism. Mother Katie (Dorothy McGuire) holds the family together as an impetuous aunt (Joan Blondell) keeps everyone on their toes. Dunn and Garner each won Oscars for their performances.
Based on Betty Smith’s novel which takes place between 1900 and 1918, the film tells the story of a girl who strives for a better life, despite her family’s poverty, which is caused in part by her father’s alcoholism. Joan Blondell co-stars as free-spirited Aunt Sissy. James Dunn won an Oscar for his role as the girl’s father.
Starring Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell, James Dunn.
A classic coming-of-age tale on par with Anne of Avonlea and Little Women, Berkeley Square is worth watching over and over again. This 10-episode British miniseries will awe you with its erudite script, wonderfully believable characters, high-caliber production values, meticulous Edwardian details, and topnotch acting. In fact, you will join the growing multitudes who puzzle over why the BBC decided to stop after only 10 episodes.
In 1902 three young nannies find jobs in well-to-do London households and get to know each other. Naive farm girl Lydia finds an unfamiliar world both in city life and with the progressive-thinking family who employs her. Earnest, rule-abiding Matty is a hard-working East End girl who slowly learns to loosen up. And, after a tragic affair with the eldest son of a grand Yorkshire family, Hannah's life in London is full of chilling secrets and grave life-and-death decisions. -Tara Chace
Starring Victoria Smurfit, Clare Wilkie, Tabitha Wady, Hermione Norris, Emily Canfor-Dumas.
Note: For Willow and Thatch, discovering and watching this series felt like a splendid, long Christmas. Two teacups up!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls start your engines. You're about to take an incredible ride with one of the most wonderful family films of all time! Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has never looked or sounded better. Dick Van Dyke stars as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, who creates an extraordinary car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It not only drives but also flies and floats as it leads him, his two children and his beautiful lady friend, Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure. Set in the 1910s.
Solid family fare that retains a quaint charm while some of the songs--including the title tune--are quite hummable. A huge plus is Dick Van Dyke, who is extremely appealing as an eccentric inventor around the turn of the century. With nimble fingers and a unique way of looking at the world, he invents for his children a magic car that floats and flies. Or does he? The special effects are tame by today's standards, and the film is about 20 minutes too long--but its enthusiasm charms. The script was cowritten by Roald Dahl and based on the novel by Ian Fleming, best known for his James Bond adventures. --Rochelle O'Gorman
Starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Benny Hill, Gert Fröbe.
Parents need to know that while there are scenes in this film in which the Potts family members and others are in jeopardy, they are fantasy sequences filled with comic pratfalls, exaggerated action (Grandpa, in his outhouse-like hideaway carried away by a zeppelin; a baroness shot into the sky and retrieved by canon shots letting the air out of her billowing skirt), and arch clown-like villains with twirling mustaches, and one even wielding a hook. Only the very youngest or most apprehensive children may find the images scary; other kids will understand the intent and likely find it funny. There is an entire kingdom made up of buffoonish Germanic stereotypes who are more bumbling than menacing. - Common Sense Media
The rise and fall of the famous clown Chocolat, the first black circus performer who revolutionized the stagnant circus acts and conquered Paris of the Belle Époque with his exuberance and originality.
The life story of Rafael Padilla, a former slave in Cuba, who unexpectedly became a star clown in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Discovered in a small country circus in the North of France by George Footit, a British clown and acrobat, he formed a successful duo with him, 'Footit and Chocolat'. For two decades, and despite conflicts between the two artists, Footit as the authoritarian white clown and Chocolat as the Auguste Black drudge filled crowds with enthusiasm. But nothing lasts forever and the glory of Chocolat, despite his high ambitions, started to decline until his premature death in 1917.
Adapted from Gerard Noiriel’s biography, and set in France beginning in the late 19th century.
“The fascinating and despairing true story of France’s first famous black performer is brought to the screen in Chocolat, a lively belle-époque biopic whose noteworthy — and extremely timely — subject matter helps overcome what otherwise feels like a familiar rise-and-fall costume drama, albeit one with significant historical baggage.” - Hollywood Reporter
Starring Omar Sy, James Thierrée, Clotilde Hesme, Olivier Gourmet, Frédéric Pierrot.
In French with English subtitles.
Based on the bestseller by Catherine Marshall, Christy tells the story of an idealistic nineteen year old (Kellie Martin) who leaves the comforts of her city home to teach school in the impoverished Appalachian community of Cutter Gap, Tennessee in 1912. Strength, determination, and faith guide young Christy Huddleston through unforeseen difficulties, help her to gain understanding of the proud mountain people, and win her mentorship, friendship, and the love of two men.
Determination, faith, and optimism are powerful forces that enable individuals to positively affect the lives of themselves and others. Christy, a captivating 1994 television series based on the book by Catherine Marshall and reminiscent of the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series, is the story of an idealistic 19-year-old woman named Christy Huddleston (Kellie Martin) who sets out for the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in 1912 on a mission to educate the children of the remote community of Cutter Gap.
A well-to-do girl raised in the city, Christy is shocked and completely unprepared for the extreme poverty, ignorance, and superstitious tendencies of Cutter Gap's people, but resolves to persevere in her commitment to better the lives of her young students. Each day brings a fresh lesson for the children and a new struggle that inspires Christy to draw upon and re-examine her own faith while striving to disprove local superstitions and replace long-held animosities and prejudices with virtues like forgiveness and respect. Christy is surrounded by a handful of allies in Cutter Gap that include fellow missionary Miss Alice Henderson (Tyne Daly), whom she idolizes for her strength, resolve, and mentorship; Fairlight Spencer (Tess Harper), a local woman who offers Christy the rare gift of friendship; mission preacher Reverend David Grantland (Randall Batinkoff), a hard worker who immediately becomes smitten with Christy; and local Doctor Neil MacNeill (Stewart Finlay-McLennan) whose gruff manner and atheistic beliefs both confuse and excite Christy. Eventually, Christy finds she's fallen in love with both Reverend Grantland and Doctor MacNeill and embarks on a very personal journey toward maturity while simultaneously succeeding in her quest to educate the children of Cutter Gap and affect significant positive change throughout the entire community. (Ages 9 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Starring Tyne Daly, Randall Batinkoff, Kellie Martin, Tess Harper, Stewart Finlay-McLennan.
Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code, Amélie) shines in this intriguing portrait of the early life of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, the orphan who would build a fashion empire and be known universally by her nickname, Coco. She journeys from a mundane seamstress job to boisterous cabarets to the opulent French countryside, possessing little more than her unwavering determination, unique style and visionary talent. Also starring Benoît Poelvoorde (In His Hands) and Alessandro Nivola (Junebug). Featuring lush settings and stunning costume design, Coco Before Chanel is the gripping and dramatic story of an icon who defied convention and defined the modern woman.
Starring Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola.
Note: This "handsomely dressed and tastefully furnished drama" (The Guardian) seeks only to tell the story of Coco's life until around the end of the First World War, showing her in her mid-20s. But by Willow and Thatch's calculations, by the end of 1918 Chanel was actually about 35 years old. (Chanel claimed that her real date of birth was 1893, making her ten years younger, so perhaps for this reason the film portrayed her this way.) Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Chanel in 1883 in a charity poorhouse, and when, her mother died, Chanel was soon was placed in the orphanage, where she spent six years. This is where the film opens, in a Catholic orphanage in the late 1800s in the Victorian era, where she learned the trade of a seamstress — and then the film jumps ahead to the Edwardian era to find Chanel working as a seamstress by day and a cabaret singer by night.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the literary phenomenon that is Mills And Boon comes this triptych of tales that span three very different periods of time in the publisher's lifetime: the first set at the turn of the 20th Century; the second plays out against a backdrop of the seventies; the third in 2008.
The first thread revolves around the establishment of Mills & Boon itself, and the relationship between Charles Boon (Daniel Mays) and his wife Mary (Jodie Whittaker). Despite the youthful idealism that saw him establish the company with his friend and win his wife's love, and the nature of the stories he oversees from hopeful authors, Charles is himself ironically blind to Mary's repeated attempts to inject passion into their relationship. Set beginning in 1908.
Starring Emilia Fox, Patrick Baladi, Olivia Colman, O.T. Fagbenle, Adam James.
Set in Edwardian England where upper lips are always stiff and men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Fisk Senior has little time or affection for his son, but when the pair visit an eccentric Indian, they start a strange journey that eventually allows the old man to find his heart.
Multiple Oscar nominee Peter O'Toole adds yet another offbeat role to his long resume with the mystical comedy-drama Dean Spanley. Adapted from Lord Dunsany's popular novella My Talks with Dean Spanley and helmed by Toa Fraser, the film stars O'Toole as Horatio Fisk, an irascible, cantankerous septuagenarian living out his final days at the turn of the 20th Century. Despite his distant and slightly strained relationship with his son Henslowe (Jeremy Northam), Horatio willfully joins the young man on regular outings; the tedium and monotony of these routines eventually grow so overwhelming, however, that the two decide to attend a lecture on the Transmigration of Souls by a visiting Hindu Swami. At the meeting, their paths intersect with the eccentric Dean Spanley (Sam Neill), and a friendship blossoms between Spanley and Henslowe. When Spanley joins Henslowe for a private dinner, and accepts his invitation to sample a rare Hungarian wine known as the Imperial Tokay, Spanley instinctively brings forth reminiscences of a prior life lived out as a canine - and his recollections hold a rather bizarre connection to Horatio's familial past.
Starring Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill
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 and 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.
Though he waited nearly 60 years to become king and reigned for only nine, Edward VII changed the British monarchy forever. Derided by his mother, Queen Victoria, as frivolous and untrustworthy, Edward was in fact a skillful, determined diplomat who longed to be useful to his country. This classic 13-part British miniseries dramatizes his life from frustrated prince and inveterate philanderer to loving father and respected statesman. Firmly grounded in history, it intimately depicts the palace dynamics that reverberated in Parliament and beyond during the years preceding World War I.
Winner of an Emmy® and multiple BAFTA awards (including best drama series), this deluxe production boasts a star-studded cast, including Timothy West, Annette Crosbie, Robert Hardy, John Gielgud, Felicity Kendal, Charles Dance, and Francesca Annis. With richly detailed sets and costumes, Edward the King recreates England at the height of its empire and a monarchy on the verge of transformation.
Royal politics have rarely been given as engaging a portrait as in Edward the King. This 13-episode miniseries aspires to redeem the reputation of a British monarch often considered frivolous: Edward VII, the heir to Queen Victoria, whose lengthy reign left Edward waiting in the wings for decades. Though this was a source of frustration for the future king, it's a boon for the miniseries, as Annette Crosbie's interpretation of Victoria is a fascinating mixture of domineering will, petulance, and genuine grief. Equally fortunately, she's matched by Timothy West as Edward, who turns genial affability into a charismatic character trait. Edward the King follows Edward from his days as a young libertine (Edward had mistresses throughout his life) to his older days as a seasoned diplomat, struggling to make peace among the European heads of state--almost all of whom were relatives, thanks to the arranged marriages Victoria brokered for her children. Though his efforts led him to be known as "Peacemaker," Edward dies with the world on the brink of World War I. Thirteen hours of turn-of-the-century politics may seem daunting, but every episodes moves briskly, packed with personal detail and wily machinations, as well as a rich and thoughtful exploration of the period's social and cultural fabric. The supporting cast is packed with superb actors like John Gielgud, Francesca Annis, and Michael Holdern. Though Edward was only king for nine years, his reign was a crucial transition into the modern age, which would be marked by both democratic reform and horrific warfare. It's juicy material for a miniseries and Edward the King does it justice. --Bret Fetzer
"Engrossing and glittering" -- The Washington Post
"Superb performances" -- The New York Times
Starring Timothy West, Annette Crosbie, Robert Hardy, John Gielgud.
Swedish master Jan Troell (The Emigrants, The New Land) returns triumphantly with EVERLASTING MOMENTS, a vivid, heartrending story of a woman liberated through art at the beginning of the twentieth century. Though poor and abused by her alcoholic husband, Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen, in a beautifully nuanced portrayal) finds an outlet in photography, which opens up her world for the first time. With a burnished bronze tint that evokes faded photographs, and a broad empathetic palette, EVERLASTING MOMENTS--based on a true story--is a miraculous tribute to the power of image making. Part of the Criterion Collection.
Rarely is there a film that evokes our sympathy more deeply than "Everlasting Moments." It is a great story of love and hope, told tenderly and without any great striving for effect. It begins in Sweden in 1911, and involves a woman, her daughter, her husband, a camera and the kindness of a stranger. It has been made by Jan Troell, a filmmaker whose care for these characters is instinctive. - Roger Ebert
Fitting for a movie about a woman who finds a new life through photography, Everlasting Moments features stunning images: A streetcar looming out of a wall of fog; the shadow of a zeppelin gliding across a courtyard; a family bouncing around a bedroom, all wearing Charlie Chaplin mustaches. This rich, emotionally powerful film begins in 1907 in a Swedish port, where Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen) struggles to raise her four children with little help from her boozing, womanizing husband Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt). By accident, she rediscovers a camera that she'd won in a lottery; through its lens she reinvents her confined, unhappy world as a place of warmth, hope, and spiritual transcendence--and begins a furtive, yearning romance with an older photographer who gives her supplies from his studio. Everlasting Moments covers decades of Maria's life, capturing not only her character but the character of the times in which she lived--an era of social unrest, world war, and personal upheaval. Yet despite this dense story, the movie feels relaxed and unfolds with the easy command of writer/director Jan Troell, whose films have won dozens of awards around the world, though he is little-known in the U.S. With any luck, Everlasting Moments will bring him some much-due recognition. --Bret Fetzer
Filmed in the color scheme suggestive of the distinguished Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, never straying far from sepia tones that ignite the solitude and light of the Nordic countries, this film could probably be successful as a silent movie - that is how powerful the production is. - Amazon review
Starring Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen.
In Swedish with English subtitles.
Note: This is a wonderful, albeit dark at times, film that is well worth the difficult bits. Not suitable for most children due to adult themes (brutally honest portrayal of poverty and hardship).
Through the eyes of ten-year-old Alexander, we witness the delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family, a sprawling bourgeois clan in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Sweden. Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) intended Fanny and Alexander as his swan song, and it is the legendary director’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a four-time Academy Award–winning triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional intensity with immense joy and sensuality.
The Criterion Collection is proud to present both the theatrical release and the original five-hour television version of this great work. Also included in the box set is Bergman’s own feature-length documentary The Making of “Fanny and Alexander,” a unique glimpse into his creative process.
In 1982, Ingmar Bergman emerged with one of his most singularly acclaimed films - a work that dramatically broke away from much of the moody psychodrama that characterized such earlier motion pictures as Cries & Whispers and Hour of the Wolf. Entitled Fanny and Alexander, and originally intended as the director's "swan song," this epic plunges into the life of a theatrical family named the Ekdahls, in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Bergman filters life through the eyes of the two titular Ekdahl children (Pernilla Alwin and Bertil Guve), as they come of age, lose their father unexpectedly, and must contend with their mother's remarriage to an uncaring, dictatorial clergyman from whom there seems to be no escape. Instantly hailed as a masterpiece, Fanny won a slew of international awards, including four Oscars. Yet curiously, the three-hour theatrical version seen in the U.S. did not represent the full depth and breadth of Bergman's vision. He also prepared a five-hour version for Swedish television, one that ran locally as a miniseries in 1984, in four separate installments. The extended running time gives the director to further develop and flesh out his characters, substories and themes, and will thus strike many fans of the original film as a remarkable discovery. ~ Nathan Southern
Part of The Criterion Collection.
In Swedish with English subtitles.
Starring Borje Ahlstedt, Allan Edwall, Ewa Froling, Jarl Kulle, Bertil Guve.
Award winners Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, and Julie Christie star in this magical tale about one of the world's greatest storytellers and the people who inspired his masterwork Peter Pan. Well-known playwright James M. Barrie (Depp) finds his career at a crossroads when his latest play flops and doubters question his future. Then by chance he meets a widow (Winslet) and her four adventurous boys. Together they form a friendship that ignites the imagination needed to produce Barrie's greatest work! An enchanting big-screen treat with an acclaimed cast of stars, FINDING NEVERLAND has been hailed as one of the year's best motion pictures!
Based on the play by Allan Knee, "The Man Who Was Peter Pan," and directed by Marc Forster, the film mainly concerns the period during which Barrie met and befriended Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her brood of boys. Adrift in a marriage with a former actress (Radha Mitchell) with whom he enjoyed neither friendship nor bedroom intimacy, Barrie took to the Davies family like a famished man. - NYT
Starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman.
Note: The movie opens in 1903.
The story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an extremely determined man who intends to build an opera house in the middle of a jungle.
Iquitos is a town isolated in the middle of the jungle in Peru. One resident of the small town, "Fitzcarraldo", as the natives call him, dreams of bringing together Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt for one great celebration of Grand Opera. To finance this fantastic dream, Fitzcarraldo decides to exploit a vast area of rubber trees growing beyond the impassable Ucayala Falls. To circumvent this barrier, he literally has his huge steamboat lifted over a mountain from one branch of the river to the other. With the aid of a tribe of Indians bewitched by the voice of the greatest singer of all time, Enrico Caruso, Fitzcarraldo fights fever, mosquitos and suffocating heat to achieve the impossible....
Starring Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jose Lewgoy.
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.
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.
He went from teacher to legend in one lifetime.
Arthur Chipping, the Latin master at an English boys’ boarding school, is as awkward as he is stubborn. The eccentric schoolmaster lives a full, rich life within the cloistered school, defined by his role as the intellectual shepherd of generations of young students. Then, everything changes.
When Mr. Chipping travels through the countryside on summer holiday, he unexpectedly falls in love with the unconventional Kathie (Victoria Hamilton, Mansfield Park). The love and devotion of his new wife ignites his passion and brings him out of his shell, revealing the sensitivity lying beneath his gruff exterior. But after tragedy strikes, Chips’ true character is put to the test in the most difficult examination of his life. Ultimately, it is a lesson that will last a lifetime.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a tender, heartwarming story that spans over 50 years in one passionate life. Portraying the storied Arthur Chipping in James Hilton’s classic tale of love and transformation, Martin Clunes (Shakespeare in Love) turns in a bravura performance in a film filled with countless noteworthy turns.
In the annals of English boarding schools, few can match the renown of Brookfield, "a good school of the second rank," with its unforgettable Latin master Mr. Chipping, known to all as "Mr. Chips." Masterpiece Theatre's heartwarming new adaptation of James Hilton's beloved novella stars Martin Clunes as the amiable educator who arrives at Brookfield as a young teacher in the 1870s, and finds himself a venerated old timer in the 1920s with vivid memories of his thousands of children -- "all boys." Also appearing are Victoria Hamilton as Kathie, the fetching young feminist who most improbably becomes Mrs. Chipping; Conleth Hill as fellow teacher and friend Max Staefel; John Wood as headmaster Wetherby and Patrick Malahide as Ralston, the reforming headmaster who is determined to put the vintage Chips out to pasture.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Note: The film begins in the Victorian era, moves into the Edwardian era, and concludes in the 1920s.
Gran Hotel is about a young man during the early 1900’s, who visits a hotel investigating his missing sibling. Getting a job at the hotel he manages to fall in love with the daughter of the owner. It’s a love story as much as a mystery story. The series, filmed at the Palacio de la Magdalena in Santander, is set in an early 20th century aristocratic hotel during the reign of King Alfonso XIII and is centered on the mysteries that involve the owner family and the hotel servants.
Set in 1905.
"Grand Hotel is the Spanish version of Downton Abbey, but much, much better. It has two of the most beautiful leads and an amazing story line that draws you in. It is addictive." - Viewer review
Starring Yon Gonzalez and Amaia Salamanca.
Note: Linked here is Region 2 for those of you overseas and with multi-region players. At the time of this writing 9/15, it doesn't appear to be on didc for Region 1. However, it is on Netflix and is well subtitled in English. The show ran on Spanish TV in 70- to 80-minute episodes, but Netflix broke it down into digestible 45-minute episodes, creating "weird and super cliffhanger moments that have you jumping right into the next episode holding your breath." - Tampa Bay Times
Set in 1910, the film is a stark depiction of early homestead life in the American West. It is based on a memoir by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, titled Letters of a Woman Homesteader (1914).
Everything in this movie affirms life. Perhaps that is why Heartland can also be so unblinking in its consideration of death. The American West was not settled by people who spent all their time baking peach cobbler and knitting samplers, and this movie contains several scenes that will shock some audiences because of their forthright realism. All of Heartland is stunningly photographed on and around a Montana ranch. It contains countless small details of farming life, put in not for "atmosphere" but because they work better than dialogue to flesh out the characters. Richard Pearce's "Heartland" is a big, robust, joyous movie about people who make other movie heroes look tentative. - Roger Ebert
The film provides an honest and often jolting view of rural life in a distant era – and very sensitive viewers should be forewarned that the film includes a few graphic shots of farm animals being slaughtered. It is a harshly original and deeply moving celebration of the human spirit, and Ferrell is nothing short of phenomenal. -Examiner
Starring Rip Torn, Conchata Ferrell, Barry Primus, Megan Folsom, Lilia Skala.
The pinnacle of the decades-long collaboration between director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, Howards End is a thought-provoking, luminous vision of E. M. Forster’s cutting 1910 novel about class divisions in Edwardian England. Emma Thompson won an Academy Award for her dynamic portrayal of Margaret Schlegel, a flighty yet compassionate middle-class intellectual whose friendship with the dying wife (Vanessa Redgrave) of rich capitalist Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) commences an intricately woven tale of money, love, and death that encompasses the country’s highest and lowest social echelons. With a brilliant, layered script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (who also won an Oscar) and a roster of gripping performances, Howards End is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness, and one of cinema’s greatest literary adaptations.
Starring Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, and Samuel West.
Notes: Thompson won an Academy Award for her performance. In 1910, Forster achieved his first major literary success with Howards End, considered by many critics to be his greatest novel. A symbolic exploration of the social, economic, and philosophical forces at work in England in the years before World War I, Howards End uses three families (the Schlegels, the Wilcoxes, and the Basts) to explore the competing idealism and materialism of the upper classes, and to explore the belittling effects of poverty on the human soul. A deft treatment of a large theme, Howards End won widespread acclaim upon its original publication, and established Forster as one of England's most important writers--a reputation he would hold for the rest of his life, though after 1924 he lived for 46 years and never wrote another novel.
This is an epic story of three brothers bound by loyalty, tested by war, and torn apart by love. Brad Pitt stars as Tristan, the wildest of the Ludlow sons, whose failure to protect his brother puts his entire family on a path of betrayal and self-destruction. From the First World War battlefields of Europe to the farthest reaches of civilization, the film follows Tristan's turbulent journey from boyhood to manhood to legend.
Set beginning in the Edwardian era, the historical drama takes place largely during WWI and the Interwar era. The last scene takes place in 1963.
Starring Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas.
An intimate and emotional drama for BBC Two, Life in Squares dramatizes the extraordinary lives of the Bloomsbury Group, an influential set of artists and intellectuals. Told over 40 years, from the death of Queen Victoria to the Second World War, the story centres on the close and often fraught relationship between sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf, and Vanessa's sexually complicated alliance with gay artist Duncan Grant. Surrounded by the finest progressive minds of the day including the writer Lytton Strachey, art critic Clive Bell, and economist Maynard Keynes they are determined to shake off the shackles of Victorian England. Vanessa has settled into marriage and motherhood, and Virginia is enjoying huge public acclaim. But the emotional entanglements of their past have taken their toll can the sisters truly escape the pall cast by their repressive parents, or will they ultimately inflict the same mistakes on generations to come?
Starring Catherine McCormack, Eve Best, Ed Birch, Phoebe Fox. Lydia Leonard, James Norton.
Set in the Edwardian, First World War, Interwar, Second World War eras.
Note: In the three-part series, the sexual exploits of the famous tight-knit group may prove to be challenging to even modern-day viewers. On a lovely note, many of the scenes at the iconic Charleston residence took place at Charleston House itself, with additional interior and garden scenes filmed at the Hyde House Estate .
Alain Resnais pays tribute to three influential French filmmakers Georges Melies, Marcel L Herbier and Eric Rohmer with this lighthearted film about happiness and the power of the imagination.
Life Is a Bed of Roses is divided into three parallel narratives. The first section is set around the first decade of the twentieth century in the Ardennes, where Count Forbeck (Ruggero Raimondi) unveils his architect s designs for a utopian city. In a modern day mirroring of this story, a group of professors now inhabiting Forbeck's castle seek a new form of education through the use of the imagination, under the guidance of a guru named Guarini (Vittorio Gassman Big Deal on Madonna Street, Sharky s Machine). The third segment depicts a Wagnerian fantasy landscape of kings and dragons, which arises from the imagination of the children of some of the professors at the school.
With ingenuity and great craftsmanship, Resnais weaves together these three threads to make Life Is a Bed of Roses a compelling and entertaining mixture of drama, satire, comedy, fantasy and music.
Life Is a Bed of Roses exists on three levels, each of a deliberate - and at times quite delightful - eccentricity - Janet Maslin, NYT
In French with English subtitles.
Starring Geraldine Chaplin, Vittorio Gassman, Fanny Ardant, Sabine Azema.
Set in the heart of the East End amid horrific danger and poverty, when illnesses such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, measles, syphilis, diphtheria are rife, Whitechapel life tumbles through the emergency room doors daily in victims of violence, suicide, drink and drugs. Themes of funding crises, terrorist threats, medical advances, and deadly infections still resonate today, but in many ways this is a shocking and foreign world, in which relationships were not permitted between staff and some treatments seem fascinatingly remote. Through extreme hardship shines a spirit of forbearance and self-sacrifice that seems remarkable now.
The Casualty 1900s series is an innovative hospital drama that plunges the viewer into the Receiving Room (today's A&E) of the London hospital deep in the teeming East End. The drama is shot with the pace and action of its modern day counterpart and namesake, Casualty, but every case and character is true. Focusing on cases, characters and events taken from the actual hospital records, nurse's Ward Diaries and intimate memoirs, 'Casualty' is an unbroken experience of life with pioneering doctors and nurses a hundred years ago among the desperately poor.
Includes Casualty 1906, 1907 and 1909.
Starring Cherie Lunghi, Nicholas Farrell, Charity Wakefield.
One of the greatest intellectuals of the 20th century, a published novelist, poet, and the first female psychoanalyst, Lou Andreas-Salomé (1861-1937), recounts her life to a young German scholar. Salolmé's ideas on personal freedom and the lifestyle she chose against all conventions spurred genius and passion in others, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Rée, Sigmund Freud and the poet Rainer Rilke.
Set beginning in the late 19th Century through the 1930s.
“Engaging portrait of a charismatic and brilliant figure.” – Abbey Bender, Village Voice
Starring Katharina Lorenz, Liv Lisa Fries, Alexander Scheer.
In German, Italian and Russian, with English subtitles.
Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Visual Effects, Mary Poppins is a movie experience your family will enjoy over and over again.
“Practically Perfect In Every Way” Mary Poppins flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.” Share the music, share the magic, share the joy of Mary Poppins with a whole new generation.
The sets are luxuriant, the songs lilting, the scenario witty but impeccably sentimental, and the supporting cast only a pinfeather short of perfection. - Time
I find it irresistible. Plenty of other adults will feel the same way. And, needless to say, so will the kids. - NYT
Starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Ed Wynn, Hermione Baddeley, Karen Dotrice.
Note: The first book in the Mary Poppins book series by P. L. Travers was the main basis for the movie. The Sherman Brothers composed the music score and were also involved in the film's development, suggesting the setting be changed from the 1930s to the Edwardian era, circa 1910.
Set against the stifling conformity of pre-World War I English society, E.M. Forster’s Maurice is a story of coming to terms with one’s sexuality and identity in the face of disapproval and misunderstanding. Maurice Hall (James Wilby) and Clive Durham (Hugh Grant) find themselves in love at Cambridge. In a time when homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment, the two must keep their feelings for one another a complete secret, even though Clive refuses to allow their relationship to move beyond the boundaries of "platonic" love. After a friend is arrested and disgraced for "the unspeakable crime of the Greeks," Clive abandons his forbidden love, marries, and enters into the political arena. Maurice, however, struggles with questions of his identity and self-confidence, even seeking the help of a hypnotist to rid himself of his undeniable urges. But while staying with Clive and his shallow wife, Anne, Maurice is seduced by the affectionate and yearning servant Alec Scudder, (Rupert Graves), an event that brings about profound changes in Maurice’s life and outlook. Sparking direction by James Ivory, a distinguished performance from the ensemble cast, and a charged score by Richard Robbins all combine to create a film of undeniable power, one that is both romantic and moving, and a story of love and self-discovery for all audiences.
Merchant and Ivory tell this story in a film so handsome to look at and so intelligently acted that it is worth seeing just to regard the production. Scene after scene is perfectly created: a languorous afternoon floating on the river behind the Cambridge colleges; a desultory cricket game between masters and servants; the daily routine of college life; visits to country estates and town homes; the settings of the rooms. - Roger Ebert
Starring James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow.
Million Dollar Mermaid tells the story of Australian swimming sensation Annette Kellerman, who overcame childhood polio to go on and achieve fame as a professional swimmer and film star in the early decades of the 20th century. At the same time, she scandalized the world by wearing a one-piece bathing suit on public beaches long before the style was accepted in polite company, and made waves in other ways as well.
A musical romantic drama, this biopic tells the story of influential Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman (Esther Williams), who broke gender barriers while becoming a pioneer of synchronized swimming. Following her father (Walter Pidgeon) from Australia to London, Kellerman combines her passion for dance with her talents as a swimmer, coming of age while learning about love and show business, and working against the inherent repression of female expression in the early 20th century.
Starring Frank Ferguson, Esther Williams, Victor Mature, Walter Pidgeon, David Brian.
An exploration of the life of Beatrix Potter, the author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," the beloved and best-selling children's classic. The film tells the story of Potter's (Zellweger) love for her publisher Norman Wayne (McGregor) and her strong attempt for an independent life during a time when society expected woman of her class simply to make a good marriage.
The movie concentrates on only a few years in the life of Potter, who privately published her first book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” in 1901. It proved so popular that she took it back to a publisher who had originally rejected it; he reconsidered once she agreed to reillustrate it in color. Published in 1902, it was an enormous hit. Once Potter achieves financial independence, the movie dawdles on pleasantly as she buys Hill Top, a farm in the Lake District, in 1905. She later finds romance with a lawyer, William Heelis (Lloyd Owen), whom she would marry in 1913. - NYT
Starring Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson.