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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > British TV > The Henry James Collection (BBC DVD Set)

The Henry James Collection (BBC DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Main Programs: B



Following Acorn Media’s exception release of the first series of Henry James adaptations from the Affairs Of The Heart series from 1974, the BBC has issued their own Henry James Collection and most of the five shows are from that time period.  You can read more about the Acorn box at this link:





That is still my favorite adaptation of James’ work, but this set comes close in result and ambition in its impressive adaptations just he same.  The only overlap between the two are Wings Of The Dove, starring Elizabeth Spriggs, Betsy Blair, Lisa Eichhorn and John Castle in this case.  The newest adaptation is The American with Matthew Modine and Diana Rigg offering up a dark tale and interesting chemistry, with Rigg once again stealing every scene, no matter how much she tries to the contrary.


Richard Chamberlain, Edward Fox, James Maxwell and Suzanne Neve offer a version of Portrait Of A Lady that is as good as any I have seen, Daniel Massey, Gale Hunnicut, Cyril Cusack, Jill Townsend and Barry Morse in The Golden Bowl and Ian Ogilvy, Gemma Jones and Diane Fletcher in The Spoils Of Poynton.  They are formidable, not as consistent or exciting as the other TV series, but are rich enough to go out of your way for and a must for James fans.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is slightly fuzzy on The American despite being the newest and cleanest of the productions, while the 1.33 X 1 PAL analog videotaped shows (with some 16mm outdoor footage in select places) having softness and aliasing errors that make one wonder if these are the only surviving copies.  We have seen PAL video look better than this and wonder if these are older digital low def copies.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on all the discs are decent, with The American being in Stereo and the rest being solid monophonic sound, holding up better than their image counterparts.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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