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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > British TV > The Good Soldier (1981/Acorn Media)

The Good Soldier (1981/Acorn Media)


Picture: C†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C-†††† Telefilm: B-



Two couples from high society (one English, the other from the U.S.) meet at an upper class spa in Germany and seem to confirm that life could not get any better in Kevin Billingtonís telefilm of Ford Madox Fordís book The Good Soldier (1981), with an unflinching teleplay adaptation by John Mitchell.The couples come together to have a great time each season, but their spa is often a gilded cage for their dysfunctional behavior and denial of personal problems.


Shot on location, the story shows human nature just boiling to the top, with this film being an interesting look at the various facets of suppression, but this is not a mere psychological trip.Instead, it is a well-acted drama about those who have much and seem surprisingly unhappy about it.Robin Ellis (who narrates in past tense) and Vickery Turner are John & Florence Dowell, while Jeremy Brett (in one of his better performances) and Susan Fleetwood are Edward & Leonora Ashburnham.The big casting surprise is that John Ratzenberger turns up in any role at all, but he is here too.


Running 104 minutes, it is to the point, effective, intelligent, well paced and compelling.Once again, another great British telefilm from U.K. TVís last golden period.It also is very adept at capturing the last turn of the century, which was a calm before many storms.This one is definitely worth a look.


The 1.33 X 1 image shows its age and is from the Granada vault, whose contents did not always hold up sadly, but this is nicely shot by the great Tony Pierce-Roberts, best known for great films like the Merchant Ivory classic The Remains Of The Day and thrillers like The Client.If film elements are ever found, an HD upgrade would yield amazing results.The Dolby Digital 2.0 is the original mono with a slight boost.The only extras are text on the cast and author Ford.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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