Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Vacillations of Poppy Carew (1995)

For the past few months during my downtime, such as it is, I have been ploughing through a 14-disc collection of 'Romances' which entered the house surreptitiously courtesy of a daily newspaper and which have been glaring at me for the last two years. They are all made-for-television films and mini-series based on books by the likes of Catherine Cookson, Rosalind Pilcher, Sidney Sheldon, and Barbara Bradford. I have never read any of these authors and had only seen one of the collection previously, Anita Brookner's "Hotel du Lac" (1986), which held up well because of the brilliant pairing of Anna Massey and the late lamented Denholm Elliot supported by a fine cast. As for the rest, it has been something of a mindless plod, occasionally enlivened by some star turns by familiar faces.
The above title proved jollier than the norm and thereby serves as the hook for this entry. It stars Tara Fitzgerald as the eponymous heroine who has just been dumped by her boyfriend of seven years for a wealthier mealticket. Briefly reconnected with her gambler father -- a sweet cameo from Daniel Massey -- who literally dies laughing in hospital, she finds he has left her better off than she could have dreamed. His last wish was for a "fun" funeral and she plans this with the young and feckless firm run by Edward Atterton and Samuel West and is amazed at how many mourners appear. Amongst them are old flame Sian Phillips and her pig-farmer nephew Joseph Fiennes who falls in love with Fitzgerald at first sight. Meanwhile she is whisked off to North Africa by her chancer ex-beau for a series of horrendous encounters before Fiennes rescues her and ultimately wins her. It was all played with a light touch and allowed the viewer a hissable villain in her ex.

Now there are only two more to go but I doubt I'll be reporting further details.
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