- SKU: 30260358
- Release Date: 03/15/2016
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Best known for their historical epics that examine class and social issues in British life through a thick lens of tasteful production design and good manners, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant set their sights on an American protagonist for a change with Jefferson in Paris. As the title suggests, Jefferson in Paris deals with the five years that Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) spent as U.S. ambassador to France prior to the French Revolution; while Jefferson is sympathetic to the revolutionary forces in France, he's become well enough acquainted with the ruling aristocracy that he finds himself torn between the two sides of the issue. Jefferson, a recent widower, also becomes friends with Maria Cosway (Greta Scacchi), who is married to a foppish British artist; while it's obvious the two are in love, neither is in a position to do anything about their infatuation. And while Jefferson's daughter Patsy (Gwyneth Paltrow) loves her father, she's very upset with him when he sends her to a convent school. In this midst of this personal turmoil, Jefferson's younger daughter Polly (Estelle Eonnet) arrives in Paris, with her slave Sally Hemmings (Thandie Newton) in tow. Attractive and bright (if uneducated), Sally catches Jefferson's eye, and a friendship develops that grows into something deeper; in time, Sally becomes pregnant, and her family claims that Jefferson is the father. At the time Jefferson in Paris was released, the question of Sally Hemmings' relationship with Thomas Jefferson was a matter of lively historical debate; since then, genetic evidence has shown that, while Jefferson's paternity can't be proved beyond a doubt, it is likely that he did father children with Hemmings. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Feast of July
Based on the novel by H.E. Bates, this period drama stars Embeth Davidtz as Bella Ford, a woman living in rural England during the Victorian era. Bella fell victim to Arch Wilson (Greg Wise), a unprincipled man who claimed to be from the nearby village. He seduced her only to vanish without a trace when she became pregnant. When she is outcast after her child is stillborn, a kindly villager named Ben Wainwright (Tom Bell) allows her to stay with his family in exchange for helping with the chores. However, the presence of a young and beautiful woman in the house creates a certain amount of tension between Ben, his wife (Gemma Jones), and sons Jedd (James Purefoy), a soldier; Matty (Kent Anderson), a shoemaker; and Con (Ben Chaplin), a homebody and social misfit. Con takes a shine to Bella and eventually proposes marriage; Bella accepts, but matters become complicated when she discovers that the dastardly Arch has returned to the village. Ismail Merchant served as executive producer. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel of hypocrisy among America's pilgrims was brought to the screen by director Roland Joffe in this 1995 feature. Demi Moore stars as Hester Prynne, a new arrival to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1666. Prynne, who interacts freely with slaves and Quakers and wears revealing garb, is something of a free thinker and off-putting to the uptight locals. She awaits the arrival of her husband, Roger (Robert Duvall), but he is reported killed. One person who does not find Prynne unsettling is the new preacher, Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman). A torrid encounter between them produces a child, Pearl, and Hester is condemned by the colony, forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" (for "adultery"). Roger reappears; he had been living with a native tribe -- an experience that has driven him mad. He masquerades as "Roger Chillingsworth," trying to discover the identity of Pearl's father. When Hester is about to be executed, Dimmesdale confesses, but a timely Indian raid intervenes, saving him and Hester. The Scarlet Letter was widely derided by critics for sexualizing and changing Hawthorne's novel to an absurd degree. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
This film is the second effort to bring to the screen the 1880 Henry James novel of the same title (the first was The Heiress in 1949). Set in 1850 among the aristocracy of New York, Washington Square examines the inhibitions of Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the only child of wealthy Dr. Austin Sloper (Albert Finney). Catherine is clumsy and shy and something of an embarrassment to her high-class father. Dr. Sloper still unconsciously resents the child because her birth caused the death of his wife. He also disapproves of Catherine's attraction to Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), warning her that the handsome young man is after her money. He takes Catherine to Europe and warns her to break off her relationship with Morris, but she defies him. Townsend proposes, and Catherine accepts despite her father's threats to disinherit her if she marries him. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Nick Nolte - Thomas Jefferson
- Greta Scacchi - Maria Cosway
- Jean-Pierre Aumont - D'Hancarville
- Simon Callow - Richard Cosway
- Seth Gilliam - James Hemings