Review

  • An almost word-for-word remake of the hugely popular film of 1945, and not a very memorable one. Faye Dunaway was hardly an obvious choice to step into Margaret Lockwood's shoes and, like her co-stars Alan Bates and Denholm Elliott, was just too old. Elliott in fact was sixty and looked it and though he did give one of the better performances, his affair with Glynis Barber who was an excellent choice as Caroline appeared incongruous. Dunaway's pantomime dame performance invited ridicule, but given that Winner insisted on her using dialogue that may have worked in the original but now came over as incredibly arch, she probably couldn't have played it any other way. The camera frequently focuses on John Gielgud, hanging around like a lost soul, whether he's relevant to the scene in question or not. The brief sex scenes might have caused a stir a decade earlier, but by 1983 everyone had seen it all before and the picture was released to widespread public indifference. Ironically, the one scene that captured something of the flavour of the original was the notorious whip-fight between Dunaway and Marina Sirtis, though lifted from another Leslie Arliss film, The Idol Of Paris. (There was usually an undercurrent of sadism in Gainsborough melodramas). Jack Cardiff's ravishing photography and an excellent score from Tony Banks do ensure that the film is not a total travesty. Now that 1983 is as far removed as 1945 was then, perhaps it's time for another portrayal of the life and times of the wicked Lady Skelton. Or perhaps not.