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4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Oliver Goldsmith’s classic comedy of errors

Boisterous and brimming with energy, Oliver Goldsmith’s funniest and most famous play finds new life in this scrupulously faithful screen adaptation. The plot centers on Kate--a well-bred, whip-smart lass who passes herself off as a barmaid to win the heart of her stuffy suitor. Full of mistaken identities and multiple deceptions, the play pokes fun at the various masks we all wear in social situations and proves as relevant now as it did when it debuted in 1773. Along the way, Goldsmith’s conniving characters learn much about the nature of true love.

Filmed entirely at a 17th-century English manor house, this production escapes the confines of the stage and enlivens Goldsmith’s witty text in every scene. The stellar cast includes Mark Dexter (The Bill, From Hell), Roy Marsden (Devices and Desires), acclaimed newcomer Susannah Fielding, and veteran stage actors Polly Hemingway and Ian Redford.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURE INCLUDES A Gooseberry Fool: Oliver Goldsmith Stoops to Conquer, a lively 50-minute documentary on the writer’s life, work, and humor.

Americans who aren’t familiar with Irish dramatist Oliver Goldsmith’s work may do well to begin with the hourlong extra on this DVD, "A Gooseberry Fool: Oliver Goldsmith Stoops to Conquer," as it contextualizes his humor and summarizes what was happening in the 18th century theater world. However, diving straight in, one will get plenty of the jokes and enjoy the ironic twists that this comedy of errors from 1773 is packed with. She Stoops to Conquer adapts well to a filmed series broken into five hour-long episodes, and may even be more exciting off-stage, in outdoor and countryside settings. The story weaves together tales of three couples who fall in and out of love, who quibble and make up, and who are confounded by the opposite sex to varying degrees. Mr. Hardcastle (Ian Redford) and his wife, Dorothy (Polly Hemingway), are the elder characters reflecting on changing times. While Hardcastle clings to tradition, his wife supports modernization, and welcomes the increasing numbers of visitors from London who come through their small town. One of these visitors, the intelligent but shy Charles Marlow (Mark Dexter), comes in pursuit of the Hardcastle’s daughter, Kate (Susannah Fielding). From the moment Marlow and his suave friend, George Hastings (Joseph Thompson), arrive in town, their bumbling efforts to win Kate and her girlfriend, Constance (Holly Gilbert), become the main thrust of the plot. Episode two, for example, focuses on George and Charles’ mistaking Liberty Hall, the Hardcastle residence, for an inn, thanks to Kate’s spoiled, troublemaking brother, Tony Lumpkin (Miles Rupp). The ways in which they insult Mr. Hardcastle are hilarious. By episodes four and five, though, Kate is having all the fun, tricking Marlow into thinking she is a barmaid. Part tease and part sincere effort to test their compatibility, Kate’s antics confound the couple’s parents, as well as their friends, to humorous effect. In viewing She Stoops to Conquer, one wonders if Kate isn’t slightly nodding to William Shakespeare’s shrew by the same name. In the biopic, the narrator claims that Goldsmith did aim for "boisterous" humor, as backlash against what he called "bland, sentimental" comedy. Perhaps this playwright’s way of allowing bawdier moments to exist without "refinement" is what has helped this story survive into contemporary times, with great success..--Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Roy Marsden, Ian Redford, Mark Dexter, Polly Hemingway, Simon Butteriss
  • Directors: Tony Britten
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001JXPC00
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,426 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on January 8, 2009
Format: DVD
You will laugh through all 5 episodes of this English countryside and its gentry-quirks and British-befuddles (boobys). It could be renamed the Beauties and the Misfits.

The Hardcastle manor is home to the Squire (Ian Redford) and his lovely daughter, Kate (Susannah Fielding). Current wife to the Squire, Mrs. Hardcastle (Polly Hemingway) is mother to Tony Lumpkin (Miles Rupp) who is believed to be something of an idiot. He is quite good at practical jokes, especially when filled with the grog at Three Pigeons tavern.

The Mrs. H. plans for Constance (Holly Gilbert) to wed her dumb-cousin Tony. Both loathe each other. Mr. H. has Kate promised to Charles Marlow (Mark Dexter) who is to arrive this day for the engagement with Kate. He travels with friend, George Hastings (Joseph Thompson) who really wants to elope with Constance. Confused yet? Wait till you see how disoriented Marlow and Hastings become.

The pair arrive at the alehouse, where Lumpkin sings to the local low-life, and he realized the two are completely lost. Lumpkin, as a joke, convinces them they will need to stay the night at the Hardcastle INN, claiming Mr. H. only to be the keeper, not the owner. Since Mr. H. is unknowing of the practical joke, thissets up quite a humorous conflict between the men and ladies as to who is gentry and who are low-class.

The eccentric characters, interact in numerous sub-plots of ludicrous purpose. Perhaps this is the funniest duel-romance story ever written and it has lasted 2 1/4 centuries. This DVD set is a fantastic adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's play of 1773, & is filmed at Wiveton Hall, Norfolk, creating action and a set incapable on a stage. The scenery is as beautiful as the story is comical.
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A five-episode television mini-series, "She Stoops To Conquer" is a 2008 production of an Oliver Goldsmith play. Superbly costumed with scrupulous attention to set design (it was shot in an impressive 17th century Jacobean manor house), this whimsical, farcical, delightfully humorous and highly entertaining production is the story of Kate, a well-bred, intelligent young lady who poses as a barmaid in order to win the affections of Charles Marlow. A play rife with mistaken identities, multiple deceptions, and the convolutions of English societal expectations, "She Stoops To Conquer" is a brilliantly acted play that originally debuted in 1773 and a welcome, enthusiastically recommended addition to personal and community library DVD collections.
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Oliver Goldsmith is remembered for three works in three different genres: his beautifully bucolic narrative poem The Deserted Village, his early manifestation of the English novel The Vicar of Wakefield and this 1773 comic farce She Stoops to Conquer. It is interesting to note that Goldsmith's play, Sheridan's The School for Scandal and The Rivals and John Gay's The Beggar's Opera are the only 18th century/early 19th century English dramatic works to have consistently remained in the repertory. Considering the vast number of Elizabethan and Restoration dramas to have graced the stage with some regularity, the pitifully short supply of 18th century works is glaring to the theater aficionado and requires some explanation.

The English Augustan age produced three poets in Dryden, Pope and Swift who successfully filled the dull and repetitive regularity of the heroic couplet with observations of genius and a fierce timeless wit. They overcame stylistic limitations by remaining utterly sui generis. English stage works of the era were similarly structurally hobbled by the contemporary theatrical precept known as The Sentimental Style. During Greece's comparable Augustan Age it produced Menander (Ca. 341-290 B.C.), a writer of romantic comedies filled with ordinary folk doing ordinary things. Menander's plays merit serious consideration as the precursors of the sit-com. His sentimental works encapsulated a complacent age by entertaining a complacent, non-adventurous audience. 18th century England seems to have had a similarly mild-mannered theater audience to whom the strictly formulaic sentimental romantic comedy manifested all of their meager artistic aspirations. Comparisons to Hollywood as it is presently configured are unavoidable.
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Ugh! might best describe this pitiful attempt to present what should have been a delightful farce of romantic comedy, but what a failure! Had I not seen this production back in the 1970's, on a PBS (BBC) production, I would not have been so disappointed; but having seen that, I was sorely forced to sit through what seemed like endless moments waiting for the hilarious parts to appear, but which never did materialize, much to my chagrin. The dialogue is stilted, the plot mostly forced and unrealistic, and the characters not at all convincing. Perhaps this might appeal to a British audience, but as an American who has seen an ever so much better production of it in days past, I must say it was a total waste of almost 3 hours. Caveat emptor!!
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It's been remarked that in TV situation comedy there are only about six stock characters and about as many basic plots - all else is merely updated slang and set dressing. Oliver Goldsmith's comedy of mistaken identities (some mistaken and some deliberate) and manners might rightfully be viewed as the source and fountainhead for just about every Brit-com since, save for Monty Python.

Here's the local, country-loving lord of the manor, Mr. Hardcastle of Liberty Hall, with his pretty daughter Kate, his grasping and snobbish wife, a sort of Georgian Hyacinth Bucket less the Doulton with hand-painted-periwinkles and her crude and prank-loving son Tony (by a previous marriage), whom she aims to marry off to cousin Constance Neville, and thereby keep Miss Neville's family jewelry firmly in the Hardcastle family. Coming to visit, with Mr. Hardcastle's approval, is the son of an old friend, one Charles Marlow - the plan is for him to court Kate, and if they like each other - to marry. Alas for good intentions; Charles Marlow is all assurance when with women of lower social standing, but timid and tongue-tied when in company of women of his own class. And he has a friend with him, George Hastings - who is madly in love with Constance, and plotting to elope with her. Double alas, for Constance refuses to run away without her inheritance - the jewelry which Mrs. Hardcastle will not give up. Or at least, not without a fight. All of this sets the plot into sprightly motion, beautifully shot on location in and around Wiveton Hall, in Norfolk. This DVD version is broken up into six approximately half-hour episodes, which heightens the resemblance to a situation comedy, as the two visiting gentlemen mistake Liberty Hall for an inn, and Kate for a barmaid - among other twists.
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