Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set 2|
Actors: George Baker, Christopher Ravenscroft, Louie Ramsay, Ken Kitson, Diane Keen
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
The psychological crime dramas as seen on public television In six tales of suspense, award-winning writer Ruth Rendell examines the jealousies, betrayals, and resentments that lead to tragedy. A stellar cast brings each s... more »
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The Rendell Touch
Tom S. | New York City | 10/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of 6 British TV adaptations (1994-96) is a celebration of its real star: Ruth Rendell, perhaps the greatest current British mystery writer. For over 40 years, she has been producing the most surprising, dark, diabolically entertaining stories on the market, and this package does her justice. Along with Volume 1 of this series, we now have a grand total of 10 Rendell gems on DVD.
The 6 titles here are all well-produced, and they're brought to life by some of the best English actors around. Susannah York, John Castle, Edward Hardwicke, Janet Suzman, Sylvia Syms, James D'Arcy--everyone has a great time playing crazed killers, suspicious suspects and determined detectives. My favorites are the last 2 in the line-up: "May and June," the story of a deadly sibling rivalry dominated by the wonderful Phoebe Nicholls (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, MAURICE) and "The Orchard Walls," a moody portrait of a teenage girl (Honeysuckle Weeks, A DARK-ADAPTED EYE) who's been sent to the country from London during WWII to escape the Blitz, only to find that the dark passions of the adult world can be more confusing--and dangerous--than the war itself. There isn't a weak entry in this collection, and it's always a pleasure to see Rendell's genius at work. Highly recommended."
Great Collection of Standalone Mysteries
Mel Odom | Moore, OK USA | 12/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although known primarily for her mystery series character, Inspector Wexford, Ruth Rendell has often written stand-alone mysteries that leave readers guessing till the very last page. In RUTH RENDELL MYSTERIES SET 2, six of those mysteries were brought to life for the television screen and are now packaged in this attractive DVD set.
The six shows are also packaged in another interesting manner. Three of them were filmed as single episodes, and three others were filmed as double-episodes that originally left viewers hanging for a week in between. Thankfully the DVD set allows the viewer to get right back into the mystery with the next episode on the disc.
The stories are all solid British tales of mystery and suspense, where the bloodletting is kept to a minimum or off-stage. My wife prefers these kinds of mysteries, and I enjoy engaging in a battle of wits with her over these cozy puzzles. For some reason she can handle the CSI franchises pretty well, but once a filmmaker buries the needle in action and violence, her interest wanes pretty quickly. I'm a guy, so that's where my interest generally picks up.
However, we've found the BBC mystery series to be a great compromise when we want to watch television together. Fans of BBC mysteries know there are a lot of great shows out there to be watched, and Ruth Rendell's shows (this set all based on short stories) are excellent.
Interestingly enough, for someone who's known for attention to detail, Ruth Rendell has an interesting story of her younger years. In the beginning of her professional life, she worked as a reporter for Essex newspapers where she evidently reported on events she didn't care for. One night she "phoned in" a news article (meaning she didn't attend and just used notes from past coverage to write the article) about an annual and boring tennis club meeting. Unfortunately, the main speaker had a heart attack and died during the meeting. Her report didn't cover that. She was fired on the spot. Given that experience, it's no wonder that this gifted author has a taste for irony that finds its way into her work.
The stories in this set include: "Bribery & Corruption" which stars James D'Arcy as a troubled young man who has been quietly in love with a woman that his widowed father (Tim Woodward) has also had an affair with and just might have killed. It was interesting to see Ravi Kapoor as a police sergeant because the character was different than the one he played on CROSSING JORDAN. There are a lot of twists and turns in this one.
"Front Seat" is one of the short offerings of the set. Cecily Branksome pokes around in an old murder that most people think has been solved. (One of my favorite angles in the cozy mystery because it's like solving two mysteries in one, what was going on then and what's going on now.) I particularly like the use of the "adult returning to childhood hometown" theme, seeing everything from adult eyes as opposed to a child's.
"A Case of Coincidence" features two British police investigators on the trail of what is believed to be a serial killer. It's a period piece set back in the 1950s, knocking out a lot of the forensic investigation and breaking the case back down to two detectives using old-fashioned brains and shoe leather to solve the murder of a surgeon's wife, which one of them believes isn't related to the serial killer they're chasing.
"A Dark Blue Perfume" is a dark, psychological presentation that features Susannah York and John Castle. Liz has been recently widowed and finds herself smitten by a new man with a mysterious past. My wife and I were constantly hanging onto the edges of our seats as we tried to guess whether she was going to find love or murder at the end of her courtship.
"May & June" is an excellent episode based on one of Rendell's reader-favorite short stories. Of course, the enmity of sisters - especially over a man - is always going to draw immediate interest. It's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. May (Phoebe Nicholls) has never cared for her sister June (Christine Kavanaugh) and things only get worse from there.
My wife and I love FOYLE'S WAR, which means we also love Honeysuckle Weeks, who is a series regular in that show. Her talents as an actress really come to the forefront in "The Orchard Walls," a story about an innocent becoming aware of the secret and dangerous world of adults. Weeks plays Jenny, a young girl who - by coincidence - goes to live with relatives during the Blitz of World War II. This is the same time frame she explores in the FOYLE'S WAR stories.
Altogether, the DVD set is a splendid addition to the video mystery buff's collection. The choice between television episode-length and movie length shows is an unexpected bonus. The acting is all top-rate and the pacing is great.
It's better not to make an enemy of May Thrace, especially i
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 12/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Set Two we have the usual mixed bag of what are called psychological mysteries, stories that depend on inner motivations, emotional conflicts and, often, a good deal of ambiguity when it comes to the conclusions. Don't let that put you off. Set Two contains, in my opinion, two very strong dramas. They may not have happy endings - psychological mysteries seldom do - but they are coherent and engrossing. May & June leaves us with a kind satisfied and sick smile on our face; The Orchard Walls leaves us speculating about how helplessly unhappy we can make ourselves and how children manage to observe this and yet survive. And, like the other dramas in the set, some excellent and canny acting helps draw us in.
It is the quality of the performances, in fact, that carries us along despite the unsatisfactory nature of some of the programs. Susannah York and John Castle in A Dark Blue Perfume are such attractive people playing such sympathetic characters that we hope for a happy conclusion. This being a Ruth Rendell story, we doubt we'll get it. I wound up saying, "Wait a minute. This isn't great literature, it's just a mystery story...why can't we have a happy ending once in a while?" Still, it was a real pleasure watching York and Castle at work. Even more irritating was Front Seat, a sort of vicious comedy featuring the accomplished actors and scene-stealers Janet Suzman, Edward Hardwicke and Richard Johnson. Suzman and Johnson in particular offered up wonderful performances of awful people. Unfortunately, I must have blinked an eye and missed the point of the drama. Going back and reviewing the last ten minutes didn't much help. This is ambiguity with a vengeance.
I can't speak highly enough, however, for all the ingredients in May & June and The Orchard Walls. With The Orchard Walls Honeysuckle Weeks, at 19 and playing a girl about 12 or 13, is sent to the country to escape the London bombings. She will stay with an aunt at a family farm. She will encounter the mysteries of adultery, longing, repressed feelings and the strictures on behavior to avoid "what people may think." There is a death and a murder. By the time Weeks returns to her mother in London, no one in the farm family escapes unhappiness. It sounds like a downer but it's engrossing. Weeks does a fine job. Even better is Sylvia Syms as her aunt and the matriarch of the farm. Syms was one of the luscious blonds in Britain's movies of the Fifties and Sixties (Ice Cold in Alex, Expresso Bongo, Victim), but Syms could act as well. Here, at 64, she makes no attempt to disguise her age or appearance. She plays a dominating force to be reckoned with.
In May & June we observe the careful plotting of May, a bruised woman who harbors great resentments. Phoebe Nichols plays May in a wonderful performance that keeps us guessing as to just what May is up to. Hint: May looks her best in funereal black.
The plays, six on three DVDs, all have excellent picture and audio transfers. Three have run times of about l' 40" each and three of about fifty minutes each."
Great stories but poor sound quality
Sam | 06/13/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a Ruth Rendell fan for years and really enjoyed set 1. I am very disappointed by the second set because of poor sound quality and the lack of subtitles. I was looking forward to buying the third, but I think I will give it a miss."