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Edward & Mrs. Simpson
Edward Mrs Simpson
Actors: Edward Fox, Cynthia Harris, David Waller, Peggy Ashcroft, Nigel Hawthorne
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2005     5hr 50min

On the evening of December 11, 1936, England's King Edward VIII formally broadcast his farewell to a nation. Torn between duty and love, he had decided to follow his heart. A powerful fairytale made all the more compelling...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Edward Fox, Cynthia Harris, David Waller, Peggy Ashcroft, Nigel Hawthorne
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Animation, Love & Romance, Television
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/22/2005
Original Release Date: 01/23/1980
Theatrical Release Date: 01/23/1980
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 5hr 50min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Yvonne L. from CLEARFIELD, UT
Reviewed on 8/13/2009...
The only thing that would have made it better is close captioning.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Was SHE worth giving up a crown?
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 02/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The King of England and the woman for whom he gave up a throne" has nearly passed into legend, as has the much re-recorded abdication speech give by Edward VIII in which he explained in his own voice (kings by tradition had no right to express personal opinions in public) that all he wanted was to be with the woman he loved. Whether or not she was a scheming Lady Macbeth who wanted to be a queen will never really be known, but it makes an interesting challenge for an actress who plays the part of the American, twice-divorced Mrs. Simpson.

I was delighted to learn that A&E has restored the 1978 mini-series, "Edward & Mrs. Simpson" in a boxed set of two DVDs (AAE 71753). In seven episodes of 50 minutes each, it tells the tale of how Edward (Edward Fox) first runs into Wallis Simpson (Cynthia Harris), becomes obsessed with her, drives all of the higher-ups in the British government half mad seeking ways to satisfy their master and at the same time stopping a marriage which could not constitutionally exist.

As scripted, Simpson is no sympathetic character but a woman used to getting what she wants, even if it is the next King of England. Unhappily, Edward (who is called David throughout the series) is shown to be a spoiled brat who often puts his pleasures before his duties; and by the time one might really feel sorry for him, some can only say, "What did you expect?" and "You got what you thoroughly deserved."

As fine as Fox and Harris are as actors, there is none of that special "chemistry" needed to convince us that these two were (or at least that he was) so madly obsessed with each other. And while there is much talk about how fascinating Wallis was to all who met her, the viewer hardly sees anything matching that description.

But what a pleasure it is to see consummate actors do their stuff, especially supported by such British stars as Nigel Hawthorne, Peggy Ashcroft (as the outraged Queen Mary), John Shrapnel, David Waller (as the long-suffering Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin), Patricia Hodge (from the Rumpole series), and too many others to mention here.

A final irony is found in the bonus feature, "Wallis Simpson" from A&E's Biography series, when we are told that Simpson was carrying on another affair all through her stalking of Edward! It would be interesting to know how this would have changed the script if this information were known back then.

In sum, although I think that just under six hours is far too long to carry this story and keep things sparking (150 minutes would have been about right), I can still recommend this set for the acting, the period décor, and the discussions it is bound to stimulate among the viewers.

Engrossing Story, Excellent Production, Fine Acting
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 02/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This production, in my view, is one of the glories of Masterpiece Theater. The acting is excellent, from the leads to the extras. The story is fascinating, especially if you like peeking at the lives of royalty and the upper crust. Every pound Thames Television put into the show is visible; the settings are authentic or look it; the costumes appear bespoke, as they say; and everyone's manners are immaculate, even if what they do isn't.

It's the story of the affair between Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, and Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American twice-married divorcee. It starts just before he meets her and ends shortly after he abdicates the British throne to marry "the woman I love." He became the Duke of Windsor and she his Duchess. It was probably the biggest story of its time. The program runs for six 60 minute installments. Because of the style, the acting and the story of these two people, who are so self-indulgent and so obtuse (on his part) and so calculating and brittle (on her part), it never seems boring.

Edward, played by Edward Fox, is a man of great charm and handsome appearance, a man girls swoon over and men wish to be like. He's also privileged, unselfconsciously selfish and not really too bright. He's a man who seems most comfortable with older women, women who can cosset and coo over him. His mistresses have all been older and married. Edward Fox, a fine actor, is wonderful in the part. (For those who might not recognize his name, he was the Jackal in The Day of the Jackal). Wallis, played by Cynthia Harris, is a woman who can seem hard and even scheming, but who also has some vulnerability about her that makes her at least somewhat sympathetic.

Among the fine cast is Nigel Hawthorne as Walter Monckton, one of Edward's loyal but realistic counsellors; Cherie Lunghi as Lady Thelma Furness, a mistress Edward casts off by simply telling his switchboard not to accept anymore of her calls; David Waller as Stanley Baldwin, the shrewd prime minister; and Jessie Mathews as Wallis' Aunt Bessie Merryman, all pink and plump and powdered...and keen-eyed. (Mathews in the Thirties was the toast of the London stage, singing and dancing in a number of musicals. She introduced Rodgers and Hart's "Dancing on the Ceiling.")

If you like Masterpiece Theater or similar shows, I think you'll like this program very much. The DVD picture is very good. Unfortunately, there is only one extra, A&E's Biography of Wallis Simpson. Not even any cast bios."
Good, but very wordy
John D. Cofield | 10/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Edward and Mrs Simpson" is a dramatization of the Abdication Crisis of 1936. The first parts, which deal with Edward's meeting Wallis Simpson and falling in love with her, are well done, highly dramatic but staying close to the real events. Things get a bit tedious towards the end when the show focusses more on the negotiations between the King, the Prime Minister, and the other Parliament and Commonwealth leaders than on the two principal characters. Even so, "Edward and Mrs Simpson" is well worth the money."