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Customer Review

1,126 of 1,144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LOVELY PERIOD PIECE..., March 27, 2005
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This review is from: The Inheritance (DVD)
Those who like period pieces will very much enjoy this made for television movie, which is loosely based upon Louisa May Alcott's novella of the same name, which novella she wrote when she was all of seventeen. With an excellent cast and deft direction, this Cinderella-ish, happily-ever-after story is one that the whole family can enjoy.

The film, which takes place in nineteenth century America, focuses upon a wealthy family, the Hamiltons. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton (Tom Conti and Meredith Baxter) live in elegant splendor on a vast estate with their bookish teenage daughter, Amy (Brigitta Dau), and her slightly older companion, Edith Adelon (Cari Shayne), whom Amy adores, along with a large retinue of servants. Edith has a place in the household that is somewhere between upstairs and downstairs, as she is more than a servant but not quite family.

It appears that Edith, an orphan, has been raised in the household since infancy, when the Hamiltons went to Italy to settle the estate of Mr. Hamilton's estranged older brother. The Hamiltons found the infant Edith abandoned on the Italian estate of Mr. Hamilton's brother and believed her to be the daughter of a servant who died in childbirth. The Hamiltons were so smitten with her that they took her back to America with them and proceeded to raise her.

Now a young woman, Edith's life is thrown into a tailspin when the Hamilton's beautiful cousin, Ida (Bridget Conley Walsh), comes to visit and be introduced to some eligible bachelors. The Hamiltons arrange for a very eligible and wealthy bachelor, James Percy (Thomas Gibson), to stay with them with an eye towards his making a love match with Ida. While shopping, Edith, however, briefly meets a handsome young man by the blacksmith's shop, and when their eyes lock, it is love at first sight. She later discovers when James Percy arrives that he is the young man with whom she has fallen in love and realizes that he is beyond her reach.

The Hamiltons, however, include Edith in their social plans for Amy, Ida, and James, primarily as a companion for Amy so that Ida and James can have some time to get to know each other. When disaster strikes, however, and Edith saves the day, the Hamiltons reward her by inviting her to a ball. There, the host takes offense that the Hamiltons should presume to insult him by appearing with the hired help, and Ida makes sure that Edith knows this, ruining Edith's evening in the process.

This pomposity gets Mr. Hamilton's dander up, and he will brook no insult to Edith. Meanwhile, James has been smitten by Edith, who draws away from him because they inhabit two different worlds, a point that the mean-spirited and jealous Ida wastes no time in driving home. Edith also draws away from him because she believes that there is a budding romance between James and her beloved Amy, whom she would not hurt for all the love and money in the world. Meanwhile, Ida continues creating mischief.

When Edith saves Mr. Hamilton's honor by winning a horserace against the pompous host of the ball that she attended, all is well, more so because she defied convention, riding astride rather than sidesaddle. Then, Mr. Hamilton makes a discovery that shakes him to the core. A deathbed confession to Edith will bring tears to even the most hardened of viewers. This in turn causes Edith to make an unprecedented and noble decision. Unfortunately, on the heels of her potential sacrifice, a mysterious theft crops up, and Ida points the figure at Edith. At this juncture, a deus ex machina appears in the unlikely guise of a servant. Suffice it to say that all is well that ends well.

I absolutely loved this film, despite the fact that it was somewhat predictable. It is just a lovely period film with fine performances by the entire cast. I still cannot understand why Thomas Gibson has not yet become a major star, given his exceeding good looks and talent. Tom Conti is especially endearing as the somewhat liberal blue blood who champions Edith. Cari Shayne gives a luminous performance as the noble Edith, while Meredith Baxter is excellent in the role of the somewhat thoughtless Mrs. Hamilton. Bridgitta Dau shines as the bookish but irrepressible Amy, and Bridget Conley Walsh is well cast as the beautiful but soulless Ida.

This film is well worth having in one's personal collection, if one is a devotee of period pieces or simply a fan of Louisa May Alcott. Moreover, at the price for which it is selling, this DVD has got to be one of the best bargains around.
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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 16, 2006 6:56:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2006 7:00:37 PM PST
J. Roth says:
This is absolutely one of the best reviews about a movie that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It is highly informative, yet doesn't give away the ending. Well done!!

Posted on Jan 18, 2007 5:18:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2007 5:18:46 PM PST
vessie@oz says:
Wonderful Review!!
However it is Meredith Baxter who plays the part of Mrs Hamilton not Bridget Birney.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2007 8:21:54 AM PST
Sam D says:
Good review, yes. But missing was the fact that the movie contained language (swearing) that some parents might find objectionable for children.

Posted on Aug 6, 2007 6:26:04 PM PDT
There is no deus ex machina in this film. This event was well prepared for.

There are credibility problems at the end, but this was not one of them.

Posted on Nov 12, 2007 4:36:15 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 13, 2008 5:17:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2008 5:18:31 PM PST
S. Burton says:
Thanks for posting about the swearing. It's hard to avoid swearing in anything these days, but I appreciate that you said it was there.

Yeah, I was wondering about the Bridget Birney thing . . . Perhaps the reviewer was remembering that Meredith Baxter used to be Baxter-Birney and was in a TV show long ago with her now-former husband, David Birney. The TV show was called Bridget Loves Bernie. (BTW, Meredith Baxter has the cutest little smile!)

Thanks for the great review.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2008 3:00:46 AM PDT
Eric Edwards says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2009 11:04:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2009 11:06:13 AM PST
Dear Eric Edwards:
It would seem that in your college lit class you learned how to write neither a correct paragraph nor a correct sentence. Your paragraph is one long run-on sentence, and even this run-on sentence is a tangled, ungrammatical, poorly puctuated mess. The art of writing a good English sentence and a decent English paragraph is usually taught in elementary school and perfected in high school. I wonder what kind of papers you submitted in your college lit class. It seems to me that you would have done better to concentrate on how to write correct English than to learn the exact formula for writing romance. Perhaps it is these kinds of reviews rather than "these kind[s] of movies" that should be banned.

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 9:37:41 AM PDT
fonts says:
Too much information!!!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2009 6:41:35 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 30, 2009 6:45:37 PM PDT]
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