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Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries - Strong Poison (The Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane Collection) (1987)

Harriet Walter , Edward Petherbridge , Michael A. Simpson , Christopher Hodson  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Harriet Walter, Edward Petherbridge, Richard Morant, Paul Hastings, Derek Royle
  • Directors: Michael A. Simpson, Christopher Hodson
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 14, 2002
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000062XDY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,938 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries - Strong Poison (The Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Amateur sleuth extraordinaire Lord Peter Wimsey first meets the lovely Harriet Vane in this clever mystery. At the start of Strong Poison Harriet (Harriet Walter) is on trial for murder. Lord Peter (Edward Petherbridge) becomes enchanted by her and decides she cannot possibly be guilty. What follows are the twin stories of Lord Peter's search to find the real killer and his romantic pursuit of Harriet. Both are charming. As always, Sayers has plotted her story brilliantly, with a satisfying mystery and a sly comic touch (a gentle poke at the spiritualist movement is particularly fun). The period atmosphere is pulled off naturally and with close attention to detail, and the adaptation has a careful reverence for Sayers's novel. The performances are all remarkably strong. Both leads capture the peculiar romance of sharp minds quite well, and Richard Morant is quietly fantastic as the remarkable Bunting. --Ali Davis

Product Description

In the first of Dorothy L. Sayers's famous Harriet Vane mystery series, amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey falls in love with mystery writer Harriet Vane as she stands in the dock of Old Bailey. Ms. Vane is on trial for the diabolically clever murder of her fiance. Not only does Wimsey believe in her innocence, he falls in love with her at first sight. Can he save her from the gallows and will he win her hand?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Oh that was strong poison, Lord Rendal, my son" June 28, 2002
I have been rereading Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey novels of late. A friend drew my attention to the availability of the Edward Petherbridge BBC performances of three of the novels that turn on Lord Peter's relationship with Harriet Vane, and I decided to purchase them. I never quite liked Ian Carmichael's styling of Wimsey on Masterpiece Theater, which always felt a bit out of character to me. Thus, I thought this would be an interesting change.
And a good change it is. Petherbridge's Wimsey is much more like Sayer's character, right down to the irritating bits as well as the admirable one's. And Harriet Walters playing of Harriet Vane is spot on. She is exactly as I imagined her. As we watch the tale of Wimsey's intense efforts to save Harriet from being found guilty of poisoning her ex-lover unfold, it is easy to imagine them eventual lovers. Despite shortness of the screenplay some of the brittle, the bits of sparkling dialogue which makes them a success on paper come through.
I am less comfortable with Richard Morant's version of Bunter, Wimsey's man. He acts well, but is too young by a decade or so. As the result, some of the books camaraderie between the two feels more like borderline insolence, which the real Bunter would never have done. Shirley Cain's Miss Climpson is spectacular, however, the perfect agent for Lord Peter's schemes. In addition, the comic relief scene at Blindfold Bill Rumm's is done to perfection. The old safecracker reborn as a hymn singing lay minister is another of Sayer's tiny masterpieces of caricature.
It is unfortunate that the screenwriters, having managed to navigate the plot until almost the very end with nothing to quibble about, should suddenly decide to deviate entirely from Sayer's own ending.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of THE BEST TV series ever made!! June 18, 2003
By Jeeves
Edward Petherbridge is brilliant!!
I recently acquired these DVD's (Strong Poison/Have His Carcass/Gaudy Night) and they are now my most treasured set. The performances by Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter are flawless!
This series is a MUST HAVE for all mystery buffs (especially Dorothy Sayer's fans!) For those who were disappointed in the Ian Carmichael series produced 10 years earlier, take heart--you have now found the answer to your prayers!
My only criticism is that there were no more titles produced in this series. I can't understand why they did not continue to make more of these wonderful productions. And furthermore, I can't understand why the BBC took so long to release this series onto Video/DVD. If I had known of the existance of this series sooner, I would have launched a campaign to demand that they make more episodes. Oh well...I guess we will just have to make do with the three gems that were made. (In fact you should probably buy two sets of these, as you may wear out your original DVD's from watching them over and over and over and ...ahem...oh yes back to the review...)
The first two films, Strong Poison and Have His Carcass, are faithful to the books and each is truly a pleasure to watch. The third, Gaudy Night (or "Gaudy Lite" as I have seen it referred to) skimps a bit in comparison to the novel. However, the extraordinary acting on the part of Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter more than makes up for this, ensuring that this version of Gaudy Night is a highly entertaining one. This series should have segued into "Busman's Honeymoon." However BBC dropped the ball on obtaining the rites and left us all hanging.
Perhaps it isn't too late for a continuation of this series after all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lord Peter Wimsey, better than ever! February 17, 2006
Verified Purchase
In this series, starring Edward Petherbridge, we are introduced to the supremely aristocratic Lord Peter Wimsey, the talented and strongminded Harriet Vane and the fascinatingly resourceful Bunter.

In my mind's eye, these characters are brought to life with a degree of affection and charm, with a sharp eye to authenticity and mannerisms of the class and time.

Having watched this series the first time round, it was well worth the wait to finally purchase this series (and Amazon was cheaper than Powell's, PBS, and Barnes & Noble).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As My Whimsy Takes Me May 27, 2002
I never thought I'd see this series again, but miracle of miracles, The Powers That Be have released it and on DVD, no less! I first saw these episodes on PBS in the late eighties when I was entering junior high school. I've been watching those Friday night mystery programs on PBS for as long as I can remember, and no one can top these three adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayer's three most popular Wimsey novels: Strong Poison, Have His Carcass, and Gaudy Night. Absolutely brilliant performances by Edward Petherbridge as my quintessential Lord Peter and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. I hope that now this much-loved series will receive the long-awaited praise and recognition it richly deserves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong stuff February 14, 2007
A lot of women want to poison their ex-boyfriends. Only a few actually DO.

But the suspicion is enough to land a woman in the dock in "Strong Poison," the first of a trilogy of mysteries about eccentric detective Lord Peter Wimsey and his romantic interest, crime writer Harriet Vane. While this episode spends a little too little time on the interesting side characters, it's a compelling mystery that seems hopeless at first.

Lord Peter Wimsey (Edward Petherbridge) becomes interested in the trial of Harriet Vane (Harriet Walter), a mystery writer who lived with her boyfriend until he proposed marriage (it had all been a test). Six months later, after a visit, her ex dropped dead of arsenic. But Peter is sure that Harriet didn't do the crime -- and he's fallen in love -- and so becomes determined to break this watertight case against her.

And so he turns his attention to suicide, since there was plenty of motive for that. But the most promising lead turns out to be the dead man's cousin, a successful lawyer whose motives and opportunity remain unknown -- as the court tells us, the only food that the deceased ate was also eaten by the suspect. But the brilliant Wimsey knows he can find the answer, before Harriet's retrial.

"Strong Poison" probably had a special signficance for Dorothy Sayers. First, it introduced her alter-ego, Harriet. Secondly, some of the events that happened to Harriet -- living with a boyfriend, the "test" -- really happened in real life, although presumably Sayers didn't come under suspicion of having murdered her ex.

The murder itself is very intriguing, if very slow-moving and roundabout.
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