Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Guilty pleasure?

Well, I noticed that Kelli blogged about a favorite "guilty pleasure" movie of hers (see http://kelliblogs.blogspot.com), so, since I have no idea what to write about tonight on my own, I'll share some of my favorites, too. They are 3 absolutely wonderfully, gloriously cheesy movies made years ago for TNT, based on Barbara Cartland novels. See--just the concept is wonderful for those of us who cherish fine kitsch. They are: A Hazard of Hearts, A Duel of Hearts, and A Ghost in Monte Carlo. (There is also one that stars Hugh Grant--!!!--as a Restoration-era highwayman, but sadly I never saw it and don't know the title. It sounds fabulous).

I'll start with Duel of Hearts, since it's the only one available on VHS (or any format) right now. (The other two I have on terrible recordings I made myself from the TV when I was in high school). The no-funski reviewer on Amazon calls it "A rather jarring mix of period drama, trashy romance, and all-star blockbuster, Duel of Hearts is a swashbuckling, bodice-ripping tale of slightly dubious quality." Well--yeah. That's the beauty of it all. In this story, Lady Caroline Faye (wish that was MY name) is in love with the also fabulously-named Lord Vane Brecon, but he doesn't know who she is, because they meet in the woods when she was fleeing from a pushy suitor and he's running from--oh, never mind. She finds out he's in danger from a murderous, jealous cousin (Michael York, chewing the scenery like no one's business), and comes up with a harebrained scheme to get a job as his mother's companion so she can live in his castle and, I dunno, protect him or warn him or whatever. But she still wears her fashionable gowns and hats, and her jewels, too. And no one suspects she (gasp!) might not be who she says she is. Even all his party guests in from London don't recognize her, even though she's supposedly the Diamond of the Season. Whatever. Anyway, there is scheming, madness, lots of Gothic goings-on during storms, a circus troupe, sinister servants, a masked ball, and absolutely beautiful, slightly accurate costumes. She has one white silk ball gown I lust for. That's one thing all the movies have in common--top-notch production values, and great settings in real English country houses.

I also am dying to tell you all about Hazard of Hearts and Ghost in Monte Carlo (which has perhaps the most labyrinthine plot of the 3), but I've already rambled on too long. Tomorrow--Hazard of Hearts. :)

3 comments:

Cara King said...

I saw A Hazard of Hearts a long time ago, Amanda -- but I must admit I didn't like it, even as a guilty pleasure! :-)

And the one with Hugh Grant is The Lady and the Highwayman -- painfully bad. I bet you'd like it! Once upon a time I had it on video tape, but I bet the tape is in storage . . .

Cara

Kelli McBride said...

Hazard of Hearts is the story of Lady Caroline Faye's parents. Cartland wrote this book and then the sequel, Duel of Hearts. Caroline gets in trouble because her parents have had to go abroad because Mummy is recovering from a cold and needs warmer climes.

I love both of these movies (Ghost in Monte Carlo is my fav, though). I adore Caroline's dress in the costume party scene - what a hat!

Alas, though there are many sinister characters, there is no half-mad dwarf doing the bidding of his insanely vain mistress. Oh, for a Frivolo!!

Amanda McCabe said...

I think maybe they didn't follow that "sequel" idea in the movies because HoH and DoH are set in the EXACT same time period. :) Plus Caroline has a widowed father who tells her that if surely she gets into so much trouble because her mother died young! And any story can be made better by a crazy dwarf...