The women of Yvonne's Perfume:
The women of Berlin Calling:
Cruz in Non ti muovere
Gagnon in the timeless cinema classic, The Skulls II
The women of Road House in full 1080p. Oh, I'm in heaven.
Zylberstein in Un Ange
Pearce in White Mischief. Brush up on your Spanish! This
is hard to find in English. It was issued in Region 2, but
is now discontinued, so used discs are selling for
Scoop's notes on White Mischief:
I just love the
characterizations in movies about the British ruling class
in Africa and India. You have to understand that I don't
know how these people actually lived, but I've seen a number
of movies which portray them consistently as vainglorious,
greedy, shallow, condescending, and racist twits with no
respect for the native cultures of their colonies.
"The diamond is cursed,
Sahib/Bwana, if you remove it from the eye of Shiva/n'botu,
we all die ... !"
"I say, Jeeves, bring me
another gin and quinine, and do shoot that frightful
beggar, if you would."
This film has all the classic elements.
While the people of Africa starved and the people back in
England faced German rockets and fought the Battle of
Britain, the British expats in Kenya worried about where to
get a good drink, who had the best centerpieces at last
month's round of parties, whose wife had the most elegant
pearls, and who was sleeping with whom.
The frivolity of the expat colony was interrupted by the
murder of one of their own. A middle aged man, Lord
Broughton, brought a carefree, gold-digging young bride to
the colony, and the gorgeous young Lady Broughton took about
an hour to find a studly young lover with a fancy title (the
Earl of Erroll). The old husband seemed to accept her
inevitable desire to dissolve their marriage, and the old
coot even toasted the young lovers with a celebratory dinner
... after which the young Earl was found pushing up the
daisies in the front seat of his car, shot to death.
These events are based on a true story, and the names
have not been changed for the film. In both the film and in
reality, the old husband was charged with the murder, but
acquitted. The crime remains officially unsolved. The
screenplay and the eponymous book both assume Lord Broughton
was guilty, and the film reinforces that conclusion with a
rather bizarrely incriminating finale.
Not everyone finds that a reasonable conclusion.
Here is an historical account of the trial by a lawyer
involved peripherally. (He was almost chosen to be the
defense counsel). Although another member of the colony,
Lady Carberry, claimed to the author of White Mischief that
Lord Broughton confessed his guilt to her personally, the
author of the historical article linked above poo-poos this
revelation. In fact, he says that the government's
accusations against the husband were ludicrous, presuming
the old boy to have shimmied up and down a drainpipe and to
have hiked five miles on foot in order to commit the crime.
Furthermore, the prosecutors tried to prove that Lord
Broughton's Colt was the murder weapon, a contention that
was utterly destroyed by the defense in the trial. The
murder weapon was later shown to have been a five groove gun
which was never linked to Lord Broughton or any other member
of the colony. The lawyer/observer speculates that the crime
probably had to have been committed by one or more of the
dozens of female lovers of the Earl of Erroll, very possibly
by Lady Broughton herself.
Whatever the true story may be, the case continues to
fascinate new generations of Englishmen because it exposed
the decadent excesses of people who were living a shallow
life of luxury while their countrymen endured the hardships
I don't know about the rest of you, but I
find that scripted versions of gripping real-life crimes and
trials rarely make for interesting films. If the author
stays too close to real-life court procedure, the film gets
tedious. If the author strays into symbolism and speculation
(ala Nick Roeg's Eureka), he tends to substitute lunatic
imaginings for those elements that made the crime
interesting in the first place. The aforementioned Eureka,
however, for all of its mad faults, is a far more
interesting interpretation of a sensational crime than White
Mischief, which just slogs along. The Earl's murder must
obviously have been a crime of passion, but I had a hard
time imagining any of these characters being passionate
about anything. Even their sexual couplings were
perfunctory, as if they were performing obligatory social
rituals, like dancing with one's cousin at a family wedding.
The director of the film is Il Postino's
Michael Radford, and nobody will ever accuse this guy of
getting into a rut. He has only worked on a handful of major
projects over the past two decades, and his major films have
virtually nothing in common.
I think that all of his films offer
splendid sights to behold, including this one, but this is
by far the least interesting of the five. Even the
improvisational Dancing at the Blue Iguana allows some
involvement with the characters, but this one stays aloof
from the people who populate it. I suppose that's just as
well, because they are not very nice people to begin with.
The problem is that I had to spend two hours with them.
Greta Scacchi was young and gorgeous as
Lady Diana Broughton, however. She wore about three dozen
designer outfits, and female audiences seemed to find this
and other elements of the film somewhat engaging, scoring it
a most respectable 7.2 at IMDb. Men, however, score it only
5.8, so it is definitely a certified chick-flick, with 1.4
estrogen points. The IMDb scores also increase with the age
of the voters, so it's officially a granny chick-flick, with
approximately the same demographic appeal as that favorite
of grannies everywhere, Beaches. If you guys get stuck
watching it, don't despair. Greta also showed off her
designer chest a lot, so there is plenty of eye candy for
you, if little else.
Fair warning: the film is not entirely a
Hugh Grant-free zone, although our hero has only a tiny,
albeit suitably floppy-haired part. (Right)