Friday, May 29, 2009

Must Watch Fridays: A Bunch of Amateurs

So what to watch when you need to spend a pleasant night in? Michelle Styles has a suggestion.

Because today is my daughter's 16th birthday, I was going to review Rebecca, the 1940 version and one of her favourite films. With Lawerence Olivier as Max de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs de Winter, it was a worthy winner of the 1940 Oscar.
However, I then happen to see A Bunch of Amateurs and decided because most people must have seen Rebecca that this film was worth highlighting.

When an aging American action adventure movie star Jefferson Steele ( Burt Reynolds) decides to revive his flagging career by doing a benefit for an English playhouse, things go awry. The movie star believes he is going to play King Lear at the RSC when in fact, he is going to the Stratford Players -- Stratford St John in Suffolk's amateur dramatic society. With Samantha Bond, Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi in the cast, the result is gentle British comedy at its side splitting best.
Imelda Staunton is brilliant as the starstruck landlady of the farmhouse bed and breakfast. She tells Steele you look so much younger than your movies except in your old movies when you look younger.

Derek Jacobi plays the solicitor/ham actor who would be playing King Lear and knows all the lines and Samantha Bond is the long suffering director who is also playing the fool.
The plot loosely follows the plot of King Lear and there is a nice subplot about Reynolds and his daughter. There are reasons why inviting a big star can be a headache. Think the very old play -- The Man Who Came to Dinner.

It is the sort of film to rent if you want a pleasant night in. When you finish, the world is a better place.
The Queen apparently was so taken with it that it was shown at Sandringham last Christmas.

Michelle Styles has never taken part in am dram society but has heard tales...and has the utmost respect for those who tread the boards. Her latest Mills & Boon historical, Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife can be purchased at either as a print or ebook. She is currently hard at work on her next historical romance which features an ex-governess but no housekeeper or former sex god movie star type.


  1. This one passed my radar but sounds just my cup of tea. Thanks, Michelle - will look out for it. And happy birthday to your daughter!

  2. Yes, do see it ,Kate H. It is really funny. It is the sort of movie to put you in a good mood. Quirky with some brilliant performances from Imelda Staunton, Samantha Bond and Derek Jacobi. Derek Jacobi as the old ham whose shining moment was being praised for the Norfolk/Suffolk regional am dram competition was great, particularly as he has played Lear so wonderfully.

  3. Hi Michelle

    This sounds like a hidden gem. I always thought Burt was quite a good comedian (after he got past his hirsute stud phase in the 70s) and those clips were hilarious. Will defo check this out.

  4. I missed this when it was on the TV recently. Thanks for reminding me to look for it.