The 1978 made-for-BBC TV movie Langrishe, Go Down
is getting some press
these days as a re-discovered gem. Starring Jeremy Irons and Judi Dench "before they were stars" (a description somewhat unfair to the Dame, who, in her early 40s, was an established stage actress at the time), with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, Langrishe
is certainly worth seeing. The affair between Imogen (Dench), a spinster who lives with her two sisters in a run-down mansion, and their boarder Otto (Irons), a pretentious German "scholar" and gigolo, follows a predictable arc and comes to an inevitable conclusion; but their story is distinguished by Pinter's dialogue (Otto's come-on line: "I am sound in mind and limb") and the performances by Dench and Irons. Director
David Jones (not to be confused with The Monkeys' Davy Jones or David Jones, the Welsh painter and illustrator), who's been directing episodes of "The Education of Max Bickford" lately, attempts to do some interesting thing with the sisters' parallel stories and a slightly fractured time sequence, but doesn't quite pull it off. He's not able to establish the time shifts coherently and not enough attention is paid to the other two sisters (admirably compensated for by Annette Crosbie's portrayal of Helen, but the character of Lilly is virtually a throw-away). In addition, as if one superfluous sister were not enough, he introduces a fourth sister in a flashback whose absence is never explained. On the other hand, there is a wonderful scene during Otto and Imogen's first date, after he's maneuvered her into spending the night at an artist's attic, where Otto, an aging actress and her lover (played by Pinter himself) (who live in the next room and share the kitchen) carry on a drunken non-conversation. All of them (except Imogen, for which the actress attacks her later) talk, but not really to each other, about completely unrelated things. It was very funny. Overall, Langrishe's
virtures more than outweigh its flaws.