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The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set 2

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The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set 2 + The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set 3 + The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Set 1
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Product Details

  • Actors: George Baker, Christopher Ravenscroft, Louie Ramsay, Ken Kitson, Diane Keen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 466 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000R349J8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,765 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set 2" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Ruth Rendell biography
  • Cast filmographies

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The psychological crime dramas as seen on public television

In six tales of suspense, award-winning writer Ruth Rendell examines the jealousies, betrayals, and resentments that lead to tragedy. A stellar cast brings each story off the page and onto the screen with all of the author's delicious irony and intrigue intact.

Bribery & Corruption - Young Nicholas Hawthorne (James D'Arcy) has a crush on a married woman with whom his widowed father has begun a secret affair. Then she winds up murdered. Approx. 104 min.

Front Seat - Cecily Branksome (Janice Suzman) opens old wounds by nosing into a long - resolved murder in her childhood hometown - to the growing annoyance of her husband Hugh (Edward Hardwicke). Approx. 52 min.

A Case of Coincidence - When a surgeon's wife turns up murdered in the fens, Inspector Masters (Keith Barron) and Chief Inspector Moore (Ronald Pickup) face increased pressure to bring a serial killer to justice. Approx. 105 min.

A Dark Blue Perfume - Newly widowed Liz (Susannah York) rediscovers life and love with a troubled man who has a mysterious past. Approx. 52 min.

May & June - Since childhood, May Thrace (Phoebe Nicholls) has resented her sister June (Christine Kavanaugh) - especially when they compete for the same man's affections. Approx. 102 min.

The Orchard Walls - Sent to the country to escape war-ravaged London, a young girl (Honeysuckle Weeks) discovers the adult world's dark secrets. Approx. 51 min.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE Ruth Rendell biography and cast filmographies.


The Ruth Rendell Mysteries: Set 2 includes six more, engrossing television adaptations of Rendell's brand of psychological mystery-thrillers, featuring fine casts of familiar British actors in tense, provocative tales of obsession, guilt, revenge, and murder. The suspenseful anthology includes the terrific "May & June," starring Phoebe Nicholls as the estranged sister of new widow June (Christine Kavanagh), whose late husband was originally engaged to Nicholls’ character. Seeking a way to make amends years after the fact, June invites May to move into the spacious manor that once might have belonged to the latter. Though May accepts, her sneaky behavior and the hint of madness in her eyes suggest she might have something more sinister than sisterly companionship in mind. "The Orchard Walls" co-stars veteran actress Sylvia Syms and young Honeysuckle Weeks in the tense story of an adolescent girl from London sent to live with prickly, taciturn relatives in the countryside during the dangerous days of the blitz. Though charming and vivacious, Weeks’ character seems to bother every adult in sight, preoccupied as each one is by various secrets involving the affair of a married woman whose military husband is serving overseas.

"A Dark Blue Perfume" is an eerie tale of barely-repressed, murderous madness. The still-luminous Susannah York stars as a widow whose attraction to an enigmatic neighbor (John Castle)--who might still be contemplating the murder of a woman he failed to kill years before--causes her to shake off the constrictions of small-town gossip and morality. "Front Seat" is a somewhat comical mystery starring Edward Hardwicke (Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes in the Granada Television series) as the henpecked husband of a bullying wife (Janet Suzman) who enlists a boozy old flame (Richard Johnson) to solve a decades-old murder. Hardwicke’s character, knowing the decadent pair will trample anyone in their path, sets out to resolve the unsolved case first--and possibly employ criminal means to put an end to his own, personal miseries. "A Case of Coincidence" is a head-scratcher starring Keith Barron, Pip Torrens, and Kate Buffery in the tale of a surgeon’s wife apparently murdered by a serial killer who was actually under police surveillance when the crime took place. Finally, "Bribery and Corruption" includes James D’Arcy, Paul Freeman, Tim Woodward and Abigail Cruttenden in a complicated mystery about a fellow who looks into the death of a married woman he once loved, only to learn her life was more troubled than he could have known. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 27, 2007
This collection of 6 British TV adaptations (1994-96) is a celebration of its real star: Ruth Rendell, perhaps the greatest current British mystery writer. For over 40 years, she has been producing the most surprising, dark, diabolically entertaining stories on the market, and this package does her justice. Along with Volume 1 of this series, we now have a grand total of 10 Rendell gems on DVD.

The 6 titles here are all well-produced, and they're brought to life by some of the best English actors around. Susannah York, John Castle, Edward Hardwicke, Janet Suzman, Sylvia Syms, James D'Arcy--everyone has a great time playing crazed killers, suspicious suspects and determined detectives. My favorites are the last 2 in the line-up: "May and June," the story of a deadly sibling rivalry dominated by the wonderful Phoebe Nicholls (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, MAURICE) and "The Orchard Walls," a moody portrait of a teenage girl (Honeysuckle Weeks, A DARK-ADAPTED EYE) who's been sent to the country from London during WWII to escape the Blitz, only to find that the dark passions of the adult world can be more confusing--and dangerous--than the war itself. There isn't a weak entry in this collection, and it's always a pleasure to see Rendell's genius at work. Highly recommended.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on December 17, 2007
Although known primarily for her mystery series character, Inspector Wexford, Ruth Rendell has often written stand-alone mysteries that leave readers guessing till the very last page. In RUTH RENDELL MYSTERIES SET 2, six of those mysteries were brought to life for the television screen and are now packaged in this attractive DVD set.

The six shows are also packaged in another interesting manner. Three of them were filmed as single episodes, and three others were filmed as double-episodes that originally left viewers hanging for a week in between. Thankfully the DVD set allows the viewer to get right back into the mystery with the next episode on the disc.

The stories are all solid British tales of mystery and suspense, where the bloodletting is kept to a minimum or off-stage. My wife prefers these kinds of mysteries, and I enjoy engaging in a battle of wits with her over these cozy puzzles. For some reason she can handle the CSI franchises pretty well, but once a filmmaker buries the needle in action and violence, her interest wanes pretty quickly. I'm a guy, so that's where my interest generally picks up.

However, we've found the BBC mystery series to be a great compromise when we want to watch television together. Fans of BBC mysteries know there are a lot of great shows out there to be watched, and Ruth Rendell's shows (this set all based on short stories) are excellent.

Interestingly enough, for someone who's known for attention to detail, Ruth Rendell has an interesting story of her younger years. In the beginning of her professional life, she worked as a reporter for Essex newspapers where she evidently reported on events she didn't care for.
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With The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set Two we have the usual mixed bag of what are called psychological mysteries, stories that depend on inner motivations, emotional conflicts and, often, a good deal of ambiguity when it comes to the conclusions. Don't let that put you off. Set Two contains, in my opinion, two very strong dramas. They may not have happy endings - psychological mysteries seldom do - but they are coherent and engrossing. May & June leaves us with a kind satisfied and sick smile on our face; The Orchard Walls leaves us speculating about how helplessly unhappy we can make ourselves and how children manage to observe this and yet survive. And, like the other dramas in the set, some excellent and canny acting helps draw us in.

It is the quality of the performances, in fact, that carries us along despite the unsatisfactory nature of some of the programs. Susannah York and John Castle in A Dark Blue Perfume are such attractive people playing such sympathetic characters that we hope for a happy conclusion. This being a Ruth Rendell story, we doubt we'll get it. I wound up saying, "Wait a minute. This isn't great literature, it's just a mystery story...why can't we have a happy ending once in a while?" Still, it was a real pleasure watching York and Castle at work. Even more irritating was Front Seat, a sort of vicious comedy featuring the accomplished actors and scene-stealers Janet Suzman, Edward Hardwicke and Richard Johnson. Suzman and Johnson in particular offered up wonderful performances of awful people. Unfortunately, I must have blinked an eye and missed the point of the drama. Going back and reviewing the last ten minutes didn't much help. This is ambiguity with a vengeance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue VINE VOICE on November 29, 2008
"The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Set 2," comprising several episodes of the popular television series based on the best-selling fiction of modern crime queen Ruth Rendell, consists of a boxed set of three DVD's. The British mysteries were made in the 1990's by Blue Heaven Productions for Britain's privately-held television stations (ITV). They have been shown in syndication here on Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations. DVD special features include a substantial biography of the award-winning writer, who specializes in suspense thrillers, and psychologically-oriented crime dramas. We also get cast filmographies, but, unfortunately, not subtitles.

The set contains six tense, strongly written and strongly cast memorable episodes: in fact, I remember most of them from broadcast TV. They are:
1."Bribery and Corruption." Handsome young Nicholas Hawthorne (James D'Arcy, now also starring on the big screen) has always had a bit of a crush on the free-spirited heiress wife of his father's employer: and his father's been having an affair with her as well. When she turns up murdered, investigation reveals all. Paul Freeman, Tim Woodward, and Abigail Cruttenden also contribute hard-charging performances.
2. "Front Seat." Hugh Branksome (well-known comic actor Edward Hardwicke), unexpectedly finds himself dragged back to live in his wife Cecily's seaside home town after retirement. Cecily, given a powerhouse performance by highly-acclaimed South African actress Janet Suzman, is one irritating woman. Particularly when she takes up a destructive, drunken quest to solve a decades-old local murder with a local cadger and alcoholic old flame, played by Richard Johnson.
3. "A Case of Coincidence.
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