British Cinema Collection: 8 Acclaimed Films [2 Discs] [DVD]
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In this Disney version of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, Nell Trent is well cared for by her kind and gentle grandfather (Peter Ustinov) at his London curiosity shop. She, in turn, looks after him, cooking meals and keeping him company with her angelic smile and loving nature, vowing never to leave him. All is well, or so it seems. But unknown to 13-year-old Nell, Grandfather Trent has a dark and dangerous obsession: gambling. Having lost his savings to the spendthrift ways of demanding relatives, he now pins his hopes for financial solvency -- and Nell's future -- on the luck of the draw. Every night, as Nell sleeps safely and soundly, he puts on his top hat, takes his cane in hand, and makes his way through narrow alleyways to a wooden door. After knocking, he enters and sits down to a card game by candlelight. When he leaves hours later, his pockets are empty -- always empty. To pay his gambling debts and stake himself to new games, he borrows heavily from a predatory moneylender, Daniel Quilp (Tom Courtenay). One day, after Quilp discovers what's been happening to the loans, he lays claim to the curiosity shop and takes steps to imprison Grandfather Trent. Nell and the now penniless old man think Nell's best friend, Kit Nubbles (William Mannering), betrayed them to Quilp, which is untrue. To escape the wrath of the vicious Quilp, they run off, going from town to town and meeting an odd and colorful assortment of characters along the way. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovi
Love & Rage
A drama of romantic obsession turned violent, Love and Rage was inspired by a true story and partially filmed in the home where the actual events occurred. James Lynchahaun (Daniel Craig) works at the estate of Agnes MacDonnell (Greta Scacchi), a wealthy woman who considers her privacy important but shows flashes of a high-spirited nature among those she trusts. When James discovers that a local land agent has been cheating Agnes, he shares the information with her. She's grateful to him and they get to know each other a bit better, leading in time to a romantic relationship. James soon begins displaying a rather unusual bent, appearing at the estate in disguise and meeting Agnes dressed as a priest. Agnes doesn't appear to mind this -- at times, she actively welcomes it -- yet what starts as erotic play-acting grows into something more sinister, and in time James's actions become less amusing and more threatening. In addition to drawing from real-life events, director Cathal Black and screenwriter Brian Lynch adapted their story from the novel The Playboy and the Yellow Lady by James Carney. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Jekyll and Hyde
In assembling the 1990 TV-movie version of Jekyll and Hyde, writer/director David Wickes recycled many of the elements of his 1988 adaptation of Jack the Ripper--including props, costumes, sets, and star Michael Caine. Caine goes through the standard motions as kindly Henry Jekyll, who dabbles where Men Must Not and unleashes his beastly alter ego Mr. Hyde. Anything new here? Well, the character of Dr. Lanyon, Jekyll's best friend in the original Robert Louis Stevenson story, has been rewritten as his worst enemy. Joss Ackland plays the vitriolic Lanyon, while Cheryl Ladd shows up as a newly fabricated love interest. Jekyll and Hyde has some neat makeup transformations, but otherwise is just the same old cloak 'n' fang jazz seen in so many earlier incarnations of the venerable Stevenson yarn. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Starring Seymour Hicks as the title character, Scrooge is a faithful adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol about a heartless miser who discovers the true meaning of Christmas when three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve. Hicks co-wrote the screenplay to this film, which is a thoroughly entertaining and effective retelling of a familiar story ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
This light romantic comedy follows the amorous backstage shenanigans of the cast and crew as they prepare to stage "The Hit Man," noted playwright Felix Webb's latest play. The trouble begins when director Humphrey Beal hires Felix's extramarital lover Hilary Rule as his leading lady. Working in such close proximity does nothing to help an already tense relationship made more shaky by Hilary's insistence that Felix leave his insecure wife Elena. When Humphrey hires hot, young movie star Robin Grange to play opposite Hilary, matters really heat up, especially after the handsome and perceptive young stud offers to seduce Elena so that Felix can have grounds to dump her. Unfortunately for Felix, this dreamy solution soon turns to a nightmare when Robin proves too irresistible. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
This lackluster 1970 version of Charles Dickens' classic novel, David Copperfield (made as a film twice before) turns Dickens' picaresque tale into an extended flashback, with David Copperfield (Robin Phillips) as a young man, brooding on a deserted beach, recalling his youth. The characters are all trotted out in choppy flashbacks as David remembers his life as a young orphan, brought to London and passed around from relatives, to guardians, to boarding school. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
The Serpent's Kiss
Haughty and vain British industrialist Thomas Smithers (Pete Postlethwaite) dearly loves his wife Juliana (Greta Sacchi). Since they only have a daughter (Carmen Chaplin), and a strange one at that, Smithers decides that rather than leaving his fortune to his wife and child, he will build a fabulous garden to honor Julianna, who unfortunately, cares little for such things. Hearing of Smithers's plans, Julianna's conniving cousin Fitzmaurice (Richard E. Grant), who has secretly wanted her for himself, suggests that Smithers hire hot young Dutch garden architect Meneer Chrome (Ewan McGregor) to do the work. Chrome's work does not come cheap, but that is fine with Fitzmaurice who is hoping that the project will bankrupt Smithers and cause Julianna to return to him. Unfortunately for Fitzmaurice, Julianna finds herself falling in love with Chrome. Unfortunately for Julianna, Chrome has fallen in love with her daughter Thea. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi