Ian Carmichael stars in this BBC adaption of Dorothy L. Sayers classic detective novel. Wimsey's fishing holiday in Scotland becomes a sport of a different nature when he is called to catch more than trout after a local ar... more »tist is found dead. With six likely suspects, Wimsey must use his prize skills to determine the five red herrings and expose the murderer.« less
"I was delighted to see Acorn Media re-release Five Red Herrings. This is one of the best British mysteries ever by the greatest British mystery writer ever (in my opinion). While the DVD version is excellent, the print quality, as other reviewers have said, is not the greatest. BBC, in the mid 70s, used videotape for a lot of their productions instead of film with the result the picture quality suffered. But, this is a small point. The Wimsey series, first broadcast between 1974-77 in America and Canada on PBS Masterpiece Theatre, has been too long unavailable. Ian Carmichael is a perfect Wimsey and the Scottish countryside around Kirkcudbright makes this period piece a real charmer. In most of Sayers novels, the villain rarely gets served up justice by the police as he/she/they do in Agatha Christie. Five Red Herrings is an exception, but suicide or some tragic cicumstance usually settles the score as it does in the other three released Wimsey series (to date). Not the hangman's noose for Dorothy's villains. Wimsey is a remarkable creation, very similar to Wodehouse's Wooster, but Sayers put Wimsey (and Bunter) through the hell of the Great War with the result there is a deeper side to the appearance of the "foppish Lord Peter". Five Red Herrings is a finely crafted story brought to the screen to perfection in this DVDTop marks to Amazon and Acorn and I hope the creme de la creme of the 5 productions, The Nine Tailors, is soon to be released. The Nine Tailors is Sayers' finest work and, I think, the finest mystery novel ever written. The BBC production is outstanding and of five star quality. My recommendation to fellow viewers is to ask Amazon to complete the set and if you think the videos/DVDs are great, the novels are even better. Sayers was a classical scholar of international reputation who translated Dante's Inferno (still in print) and one of the finest writers of the early 20th century and nowhere is this talent better illustrated in The Nine Tailors and the other novels represented by this outstanding BBC series. "I say, well done Bunter!!""
Red Herrings Readily Enjoyable
Matthew Gladney | Champaign-Urbana, IL USA | 05/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having recently become enamored with the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers, I started noticing the Acorn Media television adaptations lining the local bookshelves, and decided to purchase one. I picked the "Five Red Herring", as it was the book which had been the most fun to read. I was not disappointed with the adaptation. The "Five Red Herrings" is an enjoyable, yet complex story, set in Scotland during a holiday of Wimsey and his man, Bunter. A painter with nearly no friends and mostly nothing but enemies is found by the two holiday-seekers at the foot of a stream, and their enquiries into his death begin. While the novel delved deeply into the five other painters populating the area (the five red herrings, as it were), scoping out their movements and establishing (or crumbling) their alibis, the adaptation trims things down a bit, and makes the story much more crisp and tight. While the book used flashbacks at times, in order to relay certain events, the television version moves everything along in linear time, making it much more easy to follow (I often find too many flashbacks jarring to the flow of a storyline). The plot is revealed in four parts, making for convenient viewing, and the end of one part is especially harrowing. The portrayal of Wimsey by Ian Carmichael is superb. He manages to balance Wimsey's jovial nature with the realization that there is a cunning and highly superior mind at work. In many ways it is reminiscent of Patrick Macnee's John Steed character - often outwardly foppish and foolish, whilst all the time keen and aware. The actor who portrays Bunter (the other lead role) does a very good job, as well, showcasing the servant side while also betraying the very evident hint of insightful talent which can sometimes prove invaluable. The other actors in this production all do a great job, hitting exactly the right notes with each of their characters. The setting used is very nice, with rolling hills and streams and little cottages. Wimsey's vintage car adds yet more to evoking the 1930's mystique. The sets are cozy and convincing, and it is quite obvious that everyone involved with the production had nothing but straightforward respect for the material. True, some things from the book are trimmed-down or left out, but in many ways that makes the adaption work better. Novels are novels, and television is television. Luckily, in the case of the "Five Red Herrings", we have wonderful examples of both."
Four down, one to go, in the Wimsey series
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 01/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fourth of five entries in the Acorn Media releases of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, takes us out of the mostly claustrophobic sets of the other three and into the Highlands of Scotland where Lord Peter (Ian Carmichael) and the Jeevesian Bunter (Glyn Houston) are out, respectively, for a holiday of fishing and painting. But their chances of not running up against a murder are as small as those of Jessica Fletcher or Miss Marple, and the two are forced into a busman's holiday when the Meanest Man in Town, Sandy Campbell (Ian Ireland) is found dead in a stream many feet below the place where his still-wet painting stands on an easel. The absence of a tube of Flake White prompts Wimsey into suspecting foul play, and we are all launched into what he himself describes as a Wilkie Collins plot. In fact, as other reviewers have pointed out, this plot is not quite as satisfactory as the three that preceded: "Clouds of Witness," "The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club," and "Murder Must Advertise." There are six suspects--one murderer and five red herrings--all of whom were someplace else at the time of the murder; and even on my fifth viewing, I found myself confused as to which name matched which actor. As always in this series, the acting in general is superior. Here we have standout performances from John Junkin as Bunter's fellow butler and Susan Macready as Gilda Farren, the somewhat too-perfect wife of one of the suspects. The long shots of the Scottish scenery alone are worth the price of the video. But it is Carmichael's Wimsey that keeps us fascinated. Far less comical than David Suchet's Poirot, his Wimsey can quote Shakespeare along with Rumpole of the Bailey at his best and yet can become deadly serious in an eye-blink. Also those who are interested in how the smallest role can steal a scene, watch the young girl who witnessed a fight between the victim and one of the suspects as she laconically gives evidence. So for an only slightly overcomplicated whodunit with superb acting and production values (despite a low budget), you will want to add this set to the three already released by Acorn Media."
Outstanding Dorothy Sayers mystery.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 02/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lord Peter Wimsey and his faithful manservant Bunter travel to Scotland for a holiday. On a fishing outing they discover a dead artist who appears to have fallen to his death. Lord Peter suspects foul play and helps the local police sort through clues in a baffling case. The attention to detail in this fine mystery is superb as is the acting. Ian Carmichael is the perfect choice to play Lord Peter. In the DVD version we have a chance to listen to him discuss the making of the Lord Peter mysteries as part of the extra features offered to the viewer."
Excellent story and acting; not so good print....
Dianne Foster | USA | 03/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE FIVE RED HERRINGS by Dorothy Sayers is "must" reading for mystery lovers. In her 1920s novels about the exploits of Lord Peter Wimsey, Sayers devised many plot elements contained in mystery tales written afterword. HERRINGS is no exception. In fact, one of the plot elements in HERRINGS was used recently in the opening episode of HEAT OF THE SUN the BBC drama set in Kenya. I read HERRINGS before I saw the BBC dramatization and you may want to do so too. This is a complicated plot with six suspects, five of whom are red herrings. Each of Sayers tales is fresh and original, and I am amazed after all this time that her stories still retain a sense of newness. Of course for Anglophiles, the BBC dramas based on Sayers tales also retain a sense of the "good old days" beteen the wars before Britain became so Americanized (drugs, crimes etc.)--or is it the other way round?? But British murderers are generally genteel. While Americans whack peole and dump their bodies at sea (first puncture the lungs so the body doesn't float says Grandma Mazur in TWO FOR THE DOUGH). But the British murderers in Sayers tales stage phoney accidents that involve a palette knife and a tumble down a bank (supposedly the artist stepped back to admire his handywork). And best of all, British murderers are talented. They can duplicate other artists works and baffle the police.I am really pleased ACORN Media put THE FIVE RED HERRINGS on DVD. I've bought the other Wimsey tales on VHS tape and I know the DVD will last longer. Unfortunately, the transfer copy used for this process was not the best. I realize it would have cost a bit more to make this a "Criterion 'Lady Vanishes'" -- with which it has much in common-- but I sure wish had been feasible. The plot is clever and original, the acting superb, and the backgrounds and settings are filled with verismilitude. Unfortunately, the outdoor scenes are a bit faded--the light you know. Otherwise HERRINGS is a work of art. I'd still buy it flaws and all."