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The Golden Bowl (1972) (3pc) [VHS]

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In his last great novel, Henry James crafted perhaps his richest study of manners and morals. A wealthy American collector and his daughter innocently marry a pair of former lovers who are disposed to continue their intrigue. The fate of the four turns on a beautiful but flawed object-the golden bowl.
This classic BBC adaptation takes viewers into the great dwellings of turn-of-the-century England and the lives of Henry James' richly drawn characters. Cyril Cusack (My Left Foot) performs the role of narrator to droll perfection. Also starring Daniel Massey (In the Name of the Father), Gayle Hunnicutt (A Woman of Substance), and Jill Townsend (Poldark).

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Adultery has rarely been discussed with as much propriety as in this BBC film adaptation of Henry James's 1904 novel. The Golden Bowl has a more staid, theatrical feel than the lavish film versions of James's The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Wings of the Dove. The film's mildly disinterested and far from omniscient narrator, gentleman Bob Assingham, relies on the limited information his wife, Fanny, is able to deduce through social observation. Viewers patient enough to tackle the film's almost impenetrable narrative will experience a subtle, psychological drama centering on two couples and the suspicion of adultery.

The two couples are peculiarly interchangeable. In many respects, wealthy American widower and art collector Adam Verver and his daughter, Maggie, prefer each other's company to that of London society or even their spouses. Maggie marries Amerigo, a penniless Italian prince, and her father marries her childhood friend, Charlotte Stant. Neither Maggie nor her father is aware that Amerigo and Charlotte were once lovers and have rekindled their affair. Once they begin to suspect this, Maggie and Adam choose not to confront the matter. The reappearance of a gilded crystal bowl from a Bloomsbury antique shop brings a final resolution to the characters' unarticulated anguish. --Tara Chace


Product Details

  • Actors: Barry Morse, Jill Townsend, Daniel Massey, Gayle Hunnicutt, Cyril Cusack
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: September 11, 1999
  • Run Time: 270 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1569383251
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,481 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Golden Bowl (1972) (3pc) [VHS]" on IMDb

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By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on January 2, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Henry James' last novel, "The Golden Bowl," is a long work in which very little overt action occurs. The plot is basically as follows. After a long and intense love affair is over between a penniless Prince Amerigo and the beautiful Charlotte, they meet again just as he is ready to marry the American millionairess Maggie Verver. Maggie and her father Adam are very close knit; and as marriage will not seem to separate them for long, Charlotte gets Adam to propose. And so begins one of the most interesting menage a quatre in fiction. Published in 1904, the theme of adultery had to be handled with kid gloves; and this is where James is a master. When in 1972 it was dramatized and taped for the BBC (and then over here as a "Masterpiece Theater" presentation), the subtlety and ambiguity of the original had to be retained. So now that it has been made available by Acorn Media as a boxed set, we do not get to see as much as bare leg, let alone what some of the recent film versions would have offered by way of nudity. Indeed by never showing any of the amorous goings on between Amerigo and Charlotte, one can even begin to wonder if Maggie's suspicions--so long in being aroused--are actually justified. To replace the omniscient narrator of the novel, this adaptation gives us the urbane Bob Assingham (Cyril Cusack) who starts and ends each episode looking into the camera and telling us the story as he knows it. But what he knows is only what his wife Fanny (Kathleen Byron) tells him has happened. Of course, one might wonder, then, how he could know every word of dialogue that took place in Fanny's absence--but let us not quibble over technicalities. As the narrator tells us right off, this is a story not of what was said but of what was not said.Read more ›
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This is a riveting and brilliant production on all levels, for those who enjoy good drama, eloquent dialogue and the great acting skills found in British theater.
By contrast, the recent Merchant Ivory film is revealed as banal, vulgar, and dumbed down. The BBC's Charlotte is a great heroine. Uma Thurman's is a boring, neurotic wretch. She makes you wonder what all the fuss is about.
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Cyril Cusack is narrator of the story and a minor actor within it. It is a complex tale of relationships and adultery that has none of the modern obscene offensiveness. A knowledge of British society in the early 20th century is necessary to fully appreciate the subtlety of Henry James' stories. Subtlety is something lacking in most of the younger generation, and so James is opaque to most progressive modernists. It takes a well developed mind to appreciate the interpersonal dealings with husbands, wives, daughters, and lovers. Cusack's narration helps the slower minds get the point, but many people are likely to find it too slow and not sufficiently active. The actors are superb, far better than what one can find in contemporary productions.

For a look at how people used to be, you need to see this 6-part TV series -- but only if you have an open mind capable of absorbing fine points, body language, subtle comments, and facial expressions. If you like modern action movies, this is not for you.
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THIS IS A GREAT BRITISH DRAMA

I WAS VERY HAPPY WITH MY SELLER'S QUICK ACTIONS IN GETTING IT TO ME ALSO.
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