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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The House of Eliott: Series One (review)

From actresses Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain) and Jean Marsh (The Mayor of Casterbridge), the gals who gave us Upstairs, Downstairs, comes a story of two women who go from upstairs to down (sort of), sisters Evie and Beatrice Eliott (Louise Lombard: Hidalgo, and Stella Gonet: Nicholas Nickleby) left destitute by the death of their rich but foolish father who go in to business as fashion designers. Oh, and it’s London in the 1920s, which means fabulous clothes and wonderful parties and wild abandon and men with delicious accents. This splendidly lavish 1991 BBC production — which aired in the U.S. on PBS and BBC America — spreads over 12 languid hour-long episodes the thoroughly engrossing soap opera of the Eliott sisters, an elegantly told tale of constrained and sheltered women coming into their own just as society was starting to let them. As a celebration of suffragettes and flappers and uppity women, this is delightful. As a dramatic example of women grabbing life by the horns, it’s magnificent… and an example that it wouldn’t hurt more than a few women today to follow. Extras include a 1920s fashion photo gallery and production notes.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

posted in:
tv on dvd

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