'Ooh, for a game of romps,' avows Hawthorne's Lord Ogleby, a rheumatic fop decades past his prime. Here's a splendid, sympathetic grotesque to set beside Hawthorne's King George: genteel, vain and bankrupt in most ways which count in 18th century England. Hence his sufferance of the marriage between his son, Sir John (Hollander), and the nouveau riche Betsy Sterling (Chambers). The only impediment is that Sir John has his eye on Betsy's beauteous younger sister, Fanny (Little), already secretly married to her father's clerk, Lovewell (Nicholls). Hawthorne and Joan Collins (who share associate producer credits) apparently bailed out the production after its funding collapsed - and the film was worth saving. You can sense the financial problems in the editing (there clearly wasn't enough footage for some sequences) and swathes of post-synched dialogue. Yet it's a droll, elegantly coarse entertainment, a country house farce somewhat reminiscent of La Règle de Jeu and Smiles of a Summer Night. The ingenues are comparatively bland, but who's watching them when old lechers like Hawthorne and Collins are about? (From the play by George Coleman the elder.) TCh.
Cast and crew