White Mischief

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Just in case you miss the point that one's betters are scum, Radford's version of the James Fox book opens on the decadent rich drinking champers in a London underground shelter during an air-raid. They took the party to Kenya, where one adultery too many led to the shooting of Josslyn Hay, twenty-second Earl of Erroll. Since we are never in much doubt that murder is inevitable, know the murderer's identity, and have no sympathy for any of the Happy Valley set, all that's on offer are hopefully scandalous tableaux of rude goings-on. Diana (Scacchi) hooks rich old Sir Jock (Ackland), but falls for the rogering Earl (Dance). Sir Jock bumps him off, gets acquitted, but tops himself anyway. So much for the story. On the sociological side, there's wife-swapping, Trevor Howard peering through a peephole at Scacchi in the bath, lots of drugs and drink, transvestite parties, Sarah Miles smearing her vaginal secretions on the lips of her dead lover in the morgue, and roomy shorts. Irising out on a cocktail party in a cemetery, we say farewell or toodle-pip to the most stunningly boring crew this side of the Ralph Reader show.

Release details

Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Radford
Screenwriter: Michael Radford, Jonathan Gems
Cast: Charles Dance
Greta Scacchi
Joss Ackland
Sarah Miles
John Hurt
Geraldine Chaplin
Ray McAnally
Trevor Howard
Susan Fleetwood
Alan Dobie
Jacqueline Pearce
Hugh Grant

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Mostly a showpiece for Greta Saachi who, absurdly, had perfectly painted red nails and lips during her 'distraught' scenes after her lover's murder. Also, when she failed to go home for dinner and Jock found her at the club in full evening dress and flash jewellry - how did she change into all that if she didn't go home first? Sarah Miles was even more unattractive than usual - silly portrayal of a junkie who wasn't convincing. The fanciful scenes added nothing to an otherwise good and dramatic film.