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The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set 1
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Set 1
Actor: Ian Carmichael
Director: Ronald Wilson;Hugh David;Rodney Bennett
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2010     10hr 5min

As seen onMasterpiece Theatre "The cast is splendid" --The Washington Post — "Realized superbly" --The New York Times Ian Carmichael stars in the original BBC adaptations of the Dorothy L. Sayers crime thrillers. Hailed ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Ian Carmichael
Director: Ronald Wilson;Hugh David;Rodney Bennett
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 03/30/2010
Release Year: 2010
Run Time: 10hr 5min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

I say!
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 01/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Dorothy Sayers created a rather unusual sleuth in Lord Peter Wimsey -- think Bertie Wooster, except with a formidable crime-solving brain and a haunted past. And "The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries: Set 1" brings together two of the solid BBC adaptations of her works, which are hampered mainly by the fact that the cast is a bit old for their roles.

In "Clouds of Witness" Peter is on vacation when he finds out that his brother, The Duke of Denver (informally "Gerald"), is on trial for murder -- he had a blowup with his sister Mary's fiancee, Denis Cathcart, and the next morning, Cathcart was found shot through the heart by Gerald's gun, with Gerald bending over the body. The Duke stubbornly refuses to explain why he was out in the rain at three in the morning.

Peter is determined to solve the case, and quickly finds plenty of clues and odd little details, including the fact that Mary keeps lying (and changing her lies) and Gerald has some secrets that have to be unearthed. There are too many clues, and not enough motives. To save his brother, Peter must unravel plenty of lies and red herrings, and discover who wanted to do away with Denis Cathcart, and why.

"The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club" happens while Peter is lunching with his mentally fragile friend George Fentimen -- elderly General Fentiman expires in his chair. Because the exact time of death is unknown (and the general's sister died at around the same time), it's not clear who the inheritance is going to. And when the body is exhumed and examined, it's found that the old guy was actually poisoned.

Among the cash-strapped relatives are George (who's never recovered from WWI, is poverty-stricken and appears to be schizophrenic), his snotty brother Robert, and the artist Ann Dorland -- but theoretically any member of the Bellona Club could have done it. Of course, Peter is called on to unravel a snaggly mass of lies, deceptions, tricks and secret motives... and uncovers a devious plot that nobody could have guessed at.

The BBC did an excellent job preserving the spirit of Dorothy Sayers' classic mystery novels, steeped in the atmosphere of post-World War I England -- gentlemen's clubs, tweed jackets, wood-paneled manorhouses and flapper dresses. There's incisive wit in the dialogue, clever humor ("We need a new syntax! We need it now!"), and an array of characters from cutting-edge artists to fusty old gentry, from wussy socialists to flaky flappers.

Even better, these are genuine whodunnits. Both mysteries are tangles of lies, deceptions, infidelities, errors and the occasional bizarre twist such as Peter falling into a quicksand-like bog. In both cases there are only a few possible suspects and even fewer motives, but as the plot unfolds Peter wrangles out a sensible solution that explains everything (and usually without too many disasters along the way).

Perhaps the biggest problem of the story is that the cast is a bit long in the tooth: Ian Carmichael, Rachel Herbert and Anna Cropper are all at least a decade older than their characters are. It's a bit weird, especially since Carmichael is old enough to be his own character's dad.

But despite being in his mid-fifties, Ian Carmichael plays Wimsey with a light, incisive touch and a clever tongue ("I like facts... and there are remarkably few of them in this case"), and he's a likably plausible detective who can be steely when the occasion demands it. Glyn Houston is a warmly jolly Bunter, and he's sorely missed in "Unpleasantness" -- instead we get the lukewarm, forgettable Derek Newark.

"Lord Peter Wimsey Collection, Set 1" has a cast that's a bit old for their roles. But otherwise it's a solid pair of murder mysteries that stick close to the original books."
He's got the manner, he's got the monocle
Annag Chandler | Austin, TX United States | 01/17/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As a long-time Wimsey devotee [my first dog was named Wimsey, the vet's office never got it right] I confess to being of two minds about the two different portrayals of Lord Peter that are available on DVD. This set, with Ian Carmichael, I think has the better choice of actors for the character as written. Ian Carmichael does a better job of getting the casual elegance, the verbal dexterity, the airy persiflage. I also think that Glyn Houson is the better Bunter, and particularly in the back story of Lord Peter and Bunter during WWI. Richard Morant, who plays Bunter to Edward Petherbridge's Lord Peter in the Harriet Vane DVD trilogy, is too young in relation to Petherbridge to have believably been a sergeant in WWI.

However -- that's the crux of the problem in both series -- the age of the actors. The Lord Peter stories take place in the 1920s - 1930s; Lord Peter is said to have been born in 1890. So, for example, in the opening sequence of the Nine Tailors, Lord Peter was 25 and off to the war ; in the main part of the story, probably set in 1933-4, Wimsey should have been no more than mid-40s, and Ian Carmichael is clearly too long in the tooth for the part. The same thing can be said with even more vigor about Clouds of Witnesses [Lord Peter's likely age: 34], The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club [38], Five Red Herrings [41], and Murder Must Advertise (my own personal favorite of all the Lord Peter books) [43]. Ian Carmichael does a really good job with the character, but there's no getting around the fact [for dyed in the wool fans] that he's 10 to 20 years too old for the part. Against this, for anyone not so dyed in the wool, or who's coming to the series with a fresh eye, Carmichael is great and the shows are marvelous mysteries of the quintessential English unpleasantness among the upper classes type. [The supporting parts are also well done -- the Dowager Duchess, Freddy Arbuthnot, MIss Climpson, Chief Inspector Parker.]

However -- there's that two minds thing again -- don't miss the Edward Petherbridge/Harriet Walter trilogy, either. Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries (The Lord Peter Wimsey-Harriet Vane Collection - Strong Poison / Have His Carcass / Gaudy Night) Petherbridge is a favorite of mine and was closer to the true age when the programs were done in 1987, but his portrayal, for me, lacks the underlying core of mischievousness in Lord Peter. There is always in the Lord Peter of the books an element of the little boy who never quite grew up. He could as easily be Lord Peter Pan as Lord Peter Wimsey! For example, from the first paragraph of "The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question", Sayers says of Lord Peter: "THe unprofessional detective career of Lord Peter Wimsey was regulated (though the word has no particular propriety in the connexion) by a persistent and undignified inquisitiveness. The habit of asking silly questions -- natural, though irritating, in the immature male -- remained with him long after his immaculate man, Bunter, had become attached to his service to shave the bristles from his chin and see to the purchase and housing of Napoleon brandies and Villar y Villar cigars." Lord Peter : The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories Harriet Walter [niece of Christopher Lee] makes a marvelous Harriet Vane, and the interaction between them, even taking into account that Lord Peter is too serious, is really very good. Of the three, Strong Poison has the best plot and the scenes between Lord Peter and Harriet in the prison visiting room are true perfection -- two splendid actors at the top of their game. It's a shame that they didn't finish the story arc with Busman's Honeymoon.

Two last words -- very good series; and if you like these, check out the Albert Campion series with Peter Davison as well. Campion - The Complete First Season"
Good, but not as Engaging as the Petherbridge version
Happy Reader | Northern California | 02/10/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I write this knowing that I seem to be in the minority. That is, I'm one of those people who LOVE the Edward Petherbridge version of Lord Peter Wimsey, and LIKE the Ian Carmichael version. I have both full sets on DVD and have viewed them with pleasure many times.

This version, with Ian Carmichael, is pleasant, but his Wimsey doesn't have the depth of Peterbridge's version. If you're read the Wimsey mysteries (and I have them all), you know that there's a lot of angst rattling around in Wimsey's brain, which his outward flippancy belies. Ian Carmichael plays Wimsey as almost stolid, which all "good" British gentlemen of the period were expected to be, just look at Peter's brother, the Duke. The whole point of Lord Peter, however, is that he has flashes of very un-stolidness.

I will admit that Petherbridge's Wimsey is a bit more melodramatic and "romantic". But I like it that way. Plus, Edward very much more looks the part of the Wimsey in the books.

That said, this version with Ian Carmichael is good solid fun, and there's a lot more stories than you can get starring Petherbridge (he made only 3), so, as I say, I guess I'm in the minority!"
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 02/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"BY JOVE! Capitol 'LENGTHY' fun for the British mystery fans. A pair of stories taken from Dorothy L. Sayers' famous mystery series which take place in the 1920s. And a right jolly fine job they did with the period sets, costumes, and props to make it convincing. Because they are period pieces, these TV films never get outdated. It's no wonder BBCs "Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries" series inspired the PBS spin-off "Mystery!" series. These 2 book adaptations are more than full-length, or feature-length, tales. Both murder crime-investigation stories are about 3 hours long.

Lord Peter Wimsey (Ian Carmichael) is an amateur detective called in on some difficult cases. He is high-brow, debonair, of the upper-crust, top-shelf aristocracy but amusingly with a bad habit of improperly speaking with many an "ain't" for "isn't" plus "don't" when "doesn't" is proper. His butler, Bunter (Glyn Houston) assists in many ways with the sleuthing and evidence collection. The pair makes one recall Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Their accents are a delight as they constantly speak in the finest of the King's English; being proper always with their attire and manners, as the gentry should, indeed. Even more fun is the stronger, commoner, brogue-like accents of the lower classes (here the provided SUBTITLES assist).

CLOUDS OF WITNESS--221 minutes in 5 episodes--1920s Riddlesdale, England
.....Lady Mary Wimsey (Rachael Herbert), sister to Lord Peter Wimsey, is engaged until her fiance ends up dead in the garden. Lady Mary's brother, Gerald 'Jerry' Wimsey (David Langton), Jerry also officially being the Duke of Denver, is seen standing over the body (Lord Peter's future brother-in-law), is arrested, and refuses to testify or even give an accounting to his innocence or guilt. Confused? It's something of a family affair when Lord Peter Wimsey gets involved in solving the murder, in hopes of saving his family members. There is an abundance of clues, suspects, motives, and evidence to sort through. There is "Clouds of Witnesses". For those enjoying attempts at "solving" the mystery prior to the end, this one is a viewer challenge, & even for Wimsey. It was the 1st Sayers book to be filmed, and so successful several more followed.

THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELLONA CLUB--177 minutes in 4 episodes--1922
.....Lord Peter Wimsey and jolly fine side=kick, Bunter, are at it again finding enough clues and evidence, but unfortunately also a number of suspects that fit the profile. Mr. Marbles (John Welsh--Merriman in "THE DUCHESS OF DUKE STREET"; "FORSYTE SAGA"; "BRIDESHEAD REVISITED") is among those questioned as Wimsey seeks the murderer of a man found dead in a chair at the Bellona Club, maybe not really a heart attack. Dr. Penberthy (Donald Pickering--"THE PALLISERS"; Watkins in "Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson"; "DOCTOR WHO") get quite involved in trying to find a solution to the pair of family deaths, possible poisonings, that also are related to inheritance conditions, depending on which body was dead first. There's more than one unknown to solve in this one. Sayers is good at complicating a mystery.

2 splendid, devil of a spot-on job, of providing mystery entertainment in a rare double-feature-length format. Great acting, intense script. Because it is such compelling viewing--the end comes all too soon--leaving the viewer with only the hope that the rest of the Dorothy L. Sayers books adapted to film will be released in DVD. This is "SET ONE" so there is HOPE.

Extra Bonus Stuff:
Interviews with Ian Carmichael, one filmed Sep. 4, 2000.
Biography and bibliography of Dorothy L. Sayers
SUBTITLES and more"