Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Father Brown - Set 1|
Actors: Kenneth More, Dennis Burgess
Directors: Peter Jefferies, Robert Tronson
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
G.K. Chesterton?s kindly, cassocked crime-solver With a distinct twinkle behind his spectacles, Kenneth More brings G.K. Chesterton?s beloved Father Brown to the screen in a classic British television series. When it comes... more »
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Local ale and a visiting priest
Gord Wilson | Bellingham, WA USA | 01/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"G.K. Chesterton was the first president of the Detection Club. Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, was the second. As Dale Ahlquist points out in The Apostle of Common Sense, early authors of detective fiction had a problem. They couldn't out do Conan Doyle, then all the rage. Rather than take on Sherlock Holmes, Chesterton did something entirely different with Father Brown.
He drew from his friend, Father John O'Connor, for certain particulars of Father Brown, but he got the idea overhearing an aside from two Oxford undergraduates saying what a shame it was for a man to throw himself away in the priesthood, avoiding, as he must be, the various shocks of the real world. Chesterton found amusing the idea that a priest who did almost nothing but hear grisly confessions should know nothing of the dark side of human nature. Therefore, Father Brown says things like this: "You see it was I who killed all those people...I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that until I realized that I really was like that in everything but actual final consent to the action."
Father Brown stories began appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in 1910, and found their way onto TV in the states when they aired on PBS' "Mystery!" in the mid- '70s. There is one sense in which these shows differ from the books, and that is that they lack the narrator. The surprise is how well they hold up without it, and in the British TV tradition of "less is more", evoke the sense of fog surrounding the various cases and which Kenneth More as the unassuming little priest progressively cuts through. These seven episodes from ATV released through Granada run about 365 minutes and include brief bios of Chesterton and the cast. "I always like to try the local ale," says Father Brown. Quaffing that British beverage is a bit like meeting Father Brown, who begins as a stranger and ends as a friend.
The seven episodes of Series One include:
The Hammer of God, The Oracle of the Dog, The Curse of the Golden Cross, The Eye of Apollo, The Three Tools of Death, The Mirror of the Magistrate and The Dagger with Wings."
Let's bless Father Brown for giving that excellent actor Ken
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 01/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not much escapes Father Brown, a quiet Catholic priest in Twenties England. He saves souls and he catches murderers. In the stories by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown uses his theology and quite a bit of metaphysics to come to conclusions about behavior, crime and people; Chesterton uses the device of Father Brown to be the reason for these discussions as crime is being solved. It's not a bad formula and many people are passionate fans of the humble English priest.
When Lew Grade decided to make a TV mystery series out of the stories he had only one actor in mind for Father Brown, and that was Kenneth More. More wasn't so sure. It took a deal of persuading before More agreed. The result was 13 episodes of about 50 minutes each broadcast in 1974. What we have is a series of mysteries that move a little to fast for their own good; a lot gets packed into those 50 minutes. While most of the mysteries are interesting, there are a few clunkers...mysteries where the plot is simply unlikely or where only Father Brown could have possibly determined the villain. For those who enjoy philosophical disquisition on the ways of men and women, there's some of that, too. One drawback to the series is that there is no continuity except Kenneth More. Our priest simply pops up wherever a crime is being committed. He has no parish and seems to have no superiors who keep tabs on him. There is Flambeau, a former thief and good friend, who shows up now and then, but who doesn't add much to the proceedings. Occasionally we'll encounter an actor we know and like, such as Graham Crowden, Mel Martin, Oliver Ford Davis and Ronald Pickup in Set 1. For the most part, the actors are competent and anonymous. All this may sound like faint praise, but, at least in my opinion, the Father Brown mysteries don't reach the same level of interest as any number of other British TV mystery series do. Still, the series has one great plus...and that is Kenneth More.
More was 60 when he played Father Brown. He'd paid his dues in the Forties, had a career of great success in the Fifties and then in the Sixties had difficulty finding good roles. He bounced back briefly with his superb performance as Jolyon 'Jo' Forsythe in the Forsythe Saga (1967), but after that it was a series of star cameos and roles in not-so-good movies. Those qualities that made him such a vivid and charismatic actor -- energy, confidence, charm -- aren't a perfect fit for Father Brown. His skill as an actor, however, carries him through. We may not be watching Father Brown but Kenneth More as Father Brown, and that's not bad. Even though More tones it down, sometimes twinkles and gives a thoughtful and humble portrayal, I can't help but see every know and then a gleam of amusement in More's eyes.
For those who like the Father Brown stories, you may enjoy these mysteries. For those who admire Kenneth More, and I'm one of them, they're a good deal of fun. The DVD transfers are variable. The shows were produced in 1974 and have sharp interiors and poor exteriors. For the exterior scenes the picture can be a bit faded and too soft. This is not a great enough flaw to keep anyone from purchasing the set. One assumes that the second set of six episodes will become available soon.
Another take on the mystery-solving priest is provided by Alec Guinness in the 1954 movie, Father Brown (titled The Detective for the U.S. release). It's an amusing duel of wits and belief between Father Brown and that classy thief, Flambeau, played by Peter Finch, with Joan Greenwood in delectable support. The movie is not out on DVD, but the VHS tape may still be available."
senorverde | Chicago, IL USA | 07/16/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Please be warned -- the quality of these videos are so excruciatingly bad, it makes them almost impossible to sit through. A couple of the comments on here said exactly this but I bought it anyway, thinking "How bad can it be?"
I was wrong. They're terrible. They're boring. And I write as a huge Chesterton fan and an avid reader of all the Father Brown stories. This is a pale imitation of the sparkling wit and vivid descriptions of those classic tales. Now, Chesterton himself said "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly," so if this stuff works for some people and it introduces them to the Apostle of Common Sense, that's great...but be assured, in this case it has indeed been done badly. Very badly.
I was puzzled by the great variance in comments on the Amazon site for this DVD -- such gushing reviews and only one or two dissenters. Perhaps it's a generational thing? I'm not sure. But all I can say is that I suspect that most people who are used to the quality of current television shows, or who have a modicum of understanding and appreciation for the details and decisions that go into contemporary TV or film production will be dumbfounded by how truly bad this is. The video and sound quality are worse than home movies. The characterizations are overly exaggerated and the dialogue is often quite dull. Also, the pacing, editing, camera angles and movement are incredibly amateurish. It's like someone found a video camera on the street and was using it for the first time.
Don't make the same mistake I did. If you want good televised British mysteries, invest in the excellent Jeremy Brett series of Sherlock Holmes by Granada television. If you want Chesterton, sit yourself down in an overstuffed Victorian armchair with a bit of brandy, a good cigar, and your favorite pair of spectacles, and settle down with the massive set of Complete Works put out by Ignatius Press. The time you spend working through them will be infinitely better spent than any second watching these videos."
Father Brown Delights
Evan Getz | Waco, TX USA | 04/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The quality of the stories alone make this set worthwhile. Far from being just another bunch of whodunits, each tale tells of some moral or theological problem. My favorite, "The Eye of Apollo," is full of contrasts between idealist cults and orthodox Christianity. As you might expect from the title, G. K. Chesterton explores the Nietzschean substrate of the cult and their search for power.
I have found that these stories merit multiple viewings, each time revealing resonances I had previously missed. I hope set 2 will be on the way soon.