The Evelyn Waugh Collection
by Del Harvey
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On February 2, 2010, Acorn Media presents a two-disc collection of films based upon the classics by Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust and Scoop.
In A Handful of Dust, Kristin Scott Thomas is the beautiful but unfaithful wife whose slow slide into degradation destroys everything she has - family, home, and future. This beautifully filmed adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1930s tale of marital infidelity among the aristocracy places Ms. Scott Thomas as the society wife who escapes a stifling marriage to James Wilby and her idyllic life on a beautifully preserved gothic estate by succumbing to distraction in the form of an affair with handsome young stranger Rupert Graves. The marriage dissolves under the strain of the beautiful wife’s infidelities and by the subsequent family tragedy.
Director Charles Sturridge evokes a strong feel for the period, an era which was self-involved to the point of destraction. In keeping with that mood, the film’s beautiful cinematography is balanced by the stiff coldness far too often inherent in characters so accustomed to bearing their stiff upper lips with such pride that it took a cataclysmic event to stir even the slightest of emotions.
A Handful of Dust also features Dame Judi Dench, Anjelica Huston, and Sir Alex Guinness.
In Scoop, we are offered a light satire on modern journalism. This film is a humorous send-up of politics and the press, chronicling the misadventures of William Boot (Michael Maloney of Truly, Madly, Deeply), who portrays an innocent, wide-eyed nature columnist unceremoniously thrust into the role of war correspondent. He is sent to cover a revolution in the dusty African republic of Ishmaelia, where he encounters no actual fighting but a seemingly endless array of eccentrics, including feckless journalists, devious government ministers, and scheming ex-patriots. Perhaps most important of all, he becomes captivated by Kätchen (Renée Soutendijk of Spetters and The Fourth Man), the beautiful but fickle wife of a wayward geologist who clearly has an agenda of her own.
Scoop boasts a top supporting cast in Denholm Elliott, Donald Pleasance, Michael Hordern, and Herbert Lom.
DVD extras include:
Lovers of Evelyn Waugh’s stories will want this collection for their own. For more information, click here.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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