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Drama - Family

Gosford Park (2001)

Duration2h 11m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: PG, Denmark 
Source of storyBased on an idea by Bob Balaban and Robert Altman
DirectorRobert Altman
Writers/ScriptJulian Fellowes
StarringMaggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristen Scott-Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Charlea Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Jeremy Northam, Tom Hollander, Bob Balaban, James Wilby, Lawrence Fox, Ryan Phillipe, Stephen Fry, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Emily Watson, Alan Bates, Derek Jacobi, Alan Bates, Richard E. Grant, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.2 by 83,000 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 86% by 160 critics.

Elevator Pitch: In November 1932 wealthy industrialist, Sir William McCordle, holds a shooting weekend attended by many upper crust toffs. As well as the guests, their servants are found accommodation within the servant’s quarters. Amongst the guests is an American film director and Ivor Novello the composer and singer, and sort of amongst the servants is Henry an actor pretending to be the director’s valet. The servants interact with their temporary assistants, the guests interact and during dinner Sir William’s affair with Elsie, the lady’s maid is accidentally, revealed. Quite soon afterwards Sir Henry is stabbed by an unknown assailant, but he is already dead from poisoning.  Inspector Thompson investigates, badly. 

Content.  Henry attempts to have sex with Mary, one of the lady’s maids. She also snoggs Robert, one of the visiting valets. The toffs sit about discussing things, at one point Sir William refuses to support a project by Anthony Meredith, resulting in his possible ruin. Henry successfully makes as assignment with Sir William’s wife.  Below stairs a lot of time is spent preparing for the big dinner. The shooting party takes place, with a lot of pheasants being killed. Sir William is hit in the ear. A number of delightful Rollers are seen at the beginning and the end. The bumbling police inspector bumbles.

A View: The scene is wonderfully set when the Countess of Trentham requires that her Rolls stop so that her maid can get out from the front passenger seat  to release the cap of her thermos flask. There-after the film progresses, both above and below stairs, secrets gradually being revealed. It is a  film full of the British great and good, all of them apparently prepared to work for nothing to be directed by Robert Altman. They all do wonderfully well It was nominated in six categories of the Oscars, and won Best Original Screenplay.  If you have not seen it give it a go.

Additional Info: The director always used two cameras, so the actors never actually knew if they were in the frame.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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