Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Movies: The Lady and the Highwayman

The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)

The plot (from The young lady Panthea Vyne (Lysette Anthony) falls in love with the handsome highwayman (Hugh Grant) who saves her from her brutal husband. He kills him in a fair duel. Later on when Charles the 2nd (Michael York) is reinstated as King of England she attends the royal court. But here she becomes the enemy of the king's former mistress (Emma Samms) and the plot against her thickens.

This was a made for TV movie back in 1989, and has all of the ingredients of a great swashbuckling romance: star power in the persons of Oliver Reed and Michael York, a dashing young hero played by Hugh Grant, Emma Samms as the beautiful and scheming villainess, and a story filled with lively sword fights and suspenseful pursuits.
All the ingredients are there. Unfortunately, the whole is far less than the sum of the parts. Hugh Grant (in a pre-Four Weddings role) is uncharacteristically stoic and emotionless. His masked hero is more Batman than Zorro, and it is really a waste of the young actor's natural wit and charisma. The script also makes this "clever" hero just a bit on the daft side. Emma Samms is more whining than scheming. Michael York is good, but sadly underused. Oliver Reed chews scenery as the Highwayman's Sheriff of Nottingham-like nemesis, but is not enough to save the silly plot. Lysette Anthony is beautiful, talented, and very watchable, but is hampered by the stupidity of her character.
The swordfights are very good, as is much of the action, but it pales next to The Princess Bride, which was in theatres two years earlier.
Oh, and did I mention that the story is stupid?
This should have been a hit but is a terrible miss instead.

No comments: