7 October 1999 | ericl-2
A fine, quick ride through a very long memoir
I caught this on TV one night by chance, and was cheerfully drawn in. Only later did I find out why it was so much fun.
George MacDonald Fraser, author of the "Flashman" novels, should have been signed up by Hollywood a long time ago and put to work reworking classics of the swashbuckling and devil-may-care varieties into entertaining and literate movies. As it is, he's only had a handful of chances to do so, principally "Octopussy,", Richard Lester's "Musketeers" movies and Lester's (regrettably lackluster) adaption of Fraser's own "Royal Flash."
So we're lucky to have this TV film, a quick and highly entertaining run through some of the highlights of the rascally Venetian's memoirs. Chamberlain is fine in the title role, Faye Dunaway is fine too as one of his lady friends, and everybody clearly has a great time. For a "prestige" TV production, the direction is surprisingly zippy, although it could have shown a bit more visual wit to match the writing -- but that's a minor problem. Enjoy the work of a great parodist. Now, if they'd just let Fraser adapt his wonderful satirical novel "The Pyrates" for the big screen (Oops! "Cutthroat Island" seems to have sunk any chance of that happening...)