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Golden Bowl

By Tara Chance

Adultery has rarely been discussed with as much propriety as in this BBC film adaptation of Henry James's 1904 novel. The Golden Bowl has a more staid, theatrical feel than the lavish film versions of James's The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Wings of the Dove. The film's mildly disinterested and far from omniscient narrator, gentleman Bob Assingham, relies on the limited information his wife, Fanny, is able to deduce through social observation. Viewers patient enough to tackle the film's almost impenetrable narrative will experience a subtle, psychological drama centering on two couples and the suspicion of adultery.

The two couples are peculiarly interchangeable. In many respects, wealthy American widower and art collector Adam Verver and his daughter, Maggie, prefer each other's company to that of London society or even their spouses. Maggie marries Amerigo, a penniless Italian prince, and her father marries her childhood friend, Charlotte Stant. Neither Maggie nor her father is aware that Amerigo and Charlotte were once lovers and have rekindled their affair. Once they begin to suspect this, Maggie and Adam choose not to confront the matter. The reappearance of a gilded crystal bowl from a Bloomsbury antique shop brings a final resolution to the characters' unarticulated anguish.

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 

Cast: Barry Morse, Jill Townsend, Daniel Massey, Gayle Hunnicutt, Cyril Cusack, Kathleen Byron, Donald Gray

Network: BBC

Genre: Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of BBC


   
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