24 October 2017 | Red-125
The real stars are the miniature paintings
Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978) (TV) was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and directed by James Ivory. It was a Merchant Ivory production. The Merchant Ivory movies were extremely popular in the 1970's and 1980's, and for good cause. The films earned six Oscars.
Unfortunately, this particular movie was not among the best Merchant Ivory productions. The basic plot was interesting enough. Two collectors of Indian art miniatures arrive at the castle of a maharaja. The maharaja owns some of the best art in India, but he neither protects the miniature or displays them.
Larry Pine portrays wealthy collector Clark Haven. Dame Peggy Ashcroft plays Lady Gee, who is not wealthy herself, but who collects for "The Museum." I suppose that would be The British Museum, although I don't think the museum name was ever mentioned.
Victor Banerjee plays the Maharaja "Georgie" while Aparna Sen portrays his sister, "Bonnie." (The nicknames were given to them by their English governess.) Saeed Jaffrey is Sri Narain, an art dealer, and Jane Booker is Lady G's young companion.
Everyone performs in a skilled, professional manner. (Well, Jane Booker's role is to have long legs and blonde hair. She doesn't really act.)
The problem is that there's never any real chemistry in the movie. It's as if someone wound up the actors, and then they all just marched through their parts like automatons. This is amazing, when you realize that many in the cast are true superstars. However, even Dame Peggy appears to just go through the motions in a role that was made for her talents.
What saves the movie is the few glimpses we get of the miniature paintings. They truly are exquisite. (We've seen some Indian miniature paintings at the Victoria and Albert museum, and they are wonderful.) Also, the set is a real maharajah's palace, the antique cars are his cars, and the music and dancing add to the exotic (to us) reality of upper class life in India.
We saw this movie when it was released, and I remember liking it. Maybe I've changed, or maybe the movie just didn't stand the test of time. It has a dreadful IMDb rating of 5.9. It's not a great movie, but it's better than that.
Hullabaloo was made for TV, and we saw it on the small screen. Still, I think it would work better in a theater. I can't recommend that you start searching for it today. However, if it comes your way, you might really enjoy it.