This classic mystery just keeps getting better. A top-seller on VHS, it's now available for the first time on a feature-rich DVD. Ian Carmichael stars as Dorothy L. Sayers' aristocratic sleuth taking on his most personal c... more »ase ever. When his sister's fianci is murdered during a family gathering, Wimsey's brother, the Duke of Denver, is charged with the crime. Wimsey must race the clock and risk his own life to exonerate him.« less
At last! I have waited over two decades for this series!!
meiringen | 07/16/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When the Lord Peter Wimsey series first aired on Masterpiece Theater in about 1975 the host, Alister Cook, commented that generally there are two types of mystery novel readers: those who have never read Dorothy Sayers (who authored the Wimsey series) and those who read ONLY Dorothy Sayers! Sayers was a contemporary of Agatha Christie, but for my money Lord Peter could take Miss Marple with one hand tied behind his back and the other clutching his monocle! He has all of the panache of Poirot and twice as many little grey cells. Sort of like Jeeves and Wooster with a mystery plot and an intelligent Bertie Wooster! Ian Carmichael (rest his soul - he died several years ago) is wonderful as Wimsey, although he does not fit the physical description that Sayers had in mind. Actually, Sayers was a very serious writer and wrote the Wimsey series for the money. Unfortunately, it overshadowed her "legitimate" career and she grew to hate Wimsey and eventually married him off and retired him. I have been badgering PBS for years to release this series - this is the first official release to the video market I am aware of, although some people were intelligent enough (unlike myself) to make copies when they originally aired. I would assume that the 4 vidoes are of the books, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, and The Five Red Herrings. The stories, although set in post-World War 1 England, deal with timeless subjects: murder for profit and revenge, drug addiction, post-traumatic stress syndrome, social climbers, sleazy businessmen, organized crime, the ineptitude of the police officials, class distinction, etc. All in all, the series was very well done, the solutions clever but plausible and the acting and scenery was first rate."
meiringen | the Midwest | 01/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am so glad to see this on DVD, and those who have it on VHS will be surprised--it looks fantastic! You'd never know this was done in 1972.The picture is crisp and clear, even when switching from video to film (a common practice in those days--film outdoors, and videotape indoors). The sound level is a bit low, but it is not a problem--turning up the volume does not distort the sound in any way.Lord Peter Wimsey (Ian Carmichael) must find the evidence to clear his older brother, Gerald, the Duke of Denver (David Langton) from the charge of murder. The victim is the fiancé of Gerald and Peter's sister, Lady Mary Wimsey (Rachel Herbert).There is much conflicting testimony amongst the witnesses, and Lord Peter, ably assisted by his faithful manservant Bunter (Glyn Houston) and Inspector Parker (Mark Eden), does his best to save his brother.The script is well written, and well paced. We get to see a trial in the House of Lords, something most viewers have perhaps heard of, but never have witnessed. We see the Wimsey family (Lord Peter, the Dowager Duchess, Lady Mary, and the Duke of Denver), and their friends (the Arbuthnots and others), in an excellent adaptation of what life was life in the upper-crust families after World War I.The cast is first rate, as is the story and the quality of the DVD. There are extras (an interview with Ian Carmichael from September of 2000, information on Dorothy L.Sayers, a trivia quiz, and filmographies of the principal players) that make a nice addition to this slipcovered two-DVD set. Acorn Media has done a splendid job--highly recommended!"
Stephen Prescott | Minnesota | 10/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this and other Lord Peter Whimsey episodes when they first appeared on "Masterpiece Theatre" back in the '70s (the golden years). Some time ago, BBC produced another version of the Whimsey stories which were good but not nearly as good as the earlier ones with Ian Charmichael. This and the other Charmichael renditions of the Lord Peter Whimsey mystery stories are on a par with the likes of "Upstairs Downstairs" and "I Claudius". And they are better than the best of what has been seen on PBS's "Mystery" ( which is saying a lot -- I love "Mystery"). So if you are a "Masterpiece Theatre" lover but your viewing experience does not extend back to this era, I can assure you that these tapes will be a great treat."
At long last!
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 08/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are several ways for a writer to startle the reader at the end of a mystery. The most overused is "the least likely suspect" solution, a variant being found in an early Ellery Queen novel when a character already proven to be innocent turned out to be the guilty party. Agatha Christie broke all the rules when she made the first-person narrator the killer and again when she made all the suspects the collaborating killers and most outrageously of all when she made the Master Detective the killer. (Contact me if you want the titles of these books.) With Dorothy Sayers we have far better written novels--though not necessarily better mysteries than those solved by Poirot and Marple--with characters far more human and therefore interesting. So when the BBC decided back in 1972 to film several of her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, mostly at the urging of comedian Ian Carmichael, that actor was not even on the short list of candidates for the part since he was too closely associated with Bertie Wooster, whom he had shortly before that played on British telly. But he got the part and the rest is history. Five of the Wimsey mysteries were filmed and shown a year later on "Masterpiece Theatre": and . They were a smash with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and showed up later with a new series title, "Murder Most British," which included only three of them. The Lord Peter Wimsey website was filled with inquiries from fans panting to get copies of any or all of the fabulous five, but the BBC retained a stony silence. The good news is, as you might have guessed by now, that Acorn Media is releasing four of them and is now available as a boxed set of five tapes and it is a stunner. My only quibble is that more than one of the 45 minute episodes could easily have been accommodated on a tape; but I am so delighted to have it at all that any such monetary objections must fall by the wayside. Without revealing the ending, let me say it is of a type not already mentioned in my opening! Lord Peter's brother Gerald is accused of murdering a man he had just argued with that evening and steadfastly refuses to say where he was at the time of the killing, although he was found bending over the body and his own gun was the means of death. So with too many clues to help him and a certain major character making up lies all the way, Lord Peter is chased by a vicious dog, nearly drowns in a bog, barely makes a stormy trans-Atlantic flight to save his brother, and unlike the more cerebral Poirot, bumbles now and then in his conclusions in a very human way. In fact, all the characters are quite human. When the well-read Wimsey tosses a reference to "Manon Lescaut" to his Scotland Yard companion and brother-in-law-to-be (played beautifully by Mark Eden), the impatient detective retorts, "I never read Manon Lescaut," drawing an apology from the somewhat abashed Lord. Even the Duchess avoids stereotype with her upperclass-cool remarks concerning the proceedings, suggesting in a deep contralto a "nice cup of tea" at a crisis during her son's trial. As with the BBC Poirot series, the 1920s décor is impeccable and adds greatly to the amusement. Indeed it is for the acting and the art design that I will return many times to view this and the other tapes. I can only hope that will find its way into the series once the other four are out for sale. Acorn Media, who has already given us "Mapp and Lucia," "Disraeli," and the Canadian Gilbert and Sullivans already reviewed on these pages, is to be thanked for making this new series available to seekers of the finer style of mystery recreation."
Clouds of Witness is an apt title for this mystery.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 08/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lord Peter Wimsey's brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver, has got himself into "a spot of bother." He is accused of killing Lady Mary Wimsey's fiance, a card cheat named Cathcart. All the evidence points to the Duke, but Lord Peter knows his brother is innocent and begins the slow process of gathering evidence to find the truth. In this complicated case Lord Peter must fly to America to interview a beautiful woman once involved with Cathcart. Lord Peter returns just in the nick of time to give evidence at the trial of his brother in the House of Lords. Several other adventures and narrow escapes from death or serious injury make this installment in the Lord Peter series more action oriented than the companion pieces now available in their entirety to the public.Clouds of Witness and all the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries are wonderfully entertaining. The production values are consistently high and the acting is excellent, particularly Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. For an adult, literate audience, this is entertainment at its best."