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P.D. James: Devices and Desires
PD James Devices and Desires
Actors: Roy Marsden, Susannah York, Gemma Jones, James Faulkner, Tony Haygarth
Director: John Davies
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2008     5hr 10min

A serial killer known as "the Whistler" has been terrorizing the women of London and Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh (Roy Marsden) gets caught up in the search in this adaptation of P.D. James? best-selling mystery....  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Roy Marsden, Susannah York, Gemma Jones, James Faulkner, Tony Haygarth
Director: John Davies
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 08/05/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 5hr 10min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"Devices and Desires (1991) ... Roy Marsden ... Koch Vision
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 07/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Koch Vision presents "DEVICES AND DESIRES" (4 January 1991) (310 mins/Color) -- the 1989 detective novel in the Adam Dalgliesh (Roy Marsden) series by P. D. James --- It takes place on Larksoken, an isolated headland in Norfolk --- Commander Adam Dalgliesh, having published his second volume of poetry, retreats to the remote Larksoken headland where his recently deceased aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, left him a converted windmill --- However, a psychopathic mass murderer, known as the Norfolk Whistler, is on the loose and seems to have arrived at Larksoken when Dalgliesh finds the body of the nearby nuclear power plant's Acting Administrative Officer during an evening stroll on the beach --- We then watch the effect a following series of interlocking plots have on each other --- Certainly one of the outstanding examples of P.D. James mystery writing.

Under the production staff of:
John Davies - Director
Thomas Ellice - Screenwriter
P.D. James - Novel
Carol Gould - Asst Producer
John Rosenberg - Producer
Richard Harvey - Original Score
Geoff Greenleaf - Cinematographer
Keith Judge - Film Editor

The story line deals at length with such issues as nuclear power and its dangers/benefits; the loss of a wife and the effect it has on a family; the bond of siblings; the use and manifestations of both psychosis and duty; and, finally, the love among family members --- The film is also notable in that Dalgliesh himself does not actually solve the crime; the plot instead begins with different characters carrying on their lives with the bleak backdrop of a controversial power station and a prowling serial killer --- Soon, however, after the copycat murder that propels the story along, we start to watch the characters bounce and chaff and strike out at one another, but very little actual detecting takes place --- Still, the plots merit is in its ability to entwine multiple human beings who must try to live their lives amidst chaotic circumstances --- It should also be noted that the mystery actually has nothing at all do with the serial killer --- Everything about this production is excellent. What a cast! Full of fascinating twists, turns and bizarre subplots - not to mention a series of very creepy murders, this one is a certainly a winner in my book.

the cast includes:
Roy Marsden ... Commander Adam Dalgliesh
Susannah York ... Meg Dennison
Gemma Jones ... Alice Mair
James Faulkner ... Dr Alex Mair
Tony Haygarth ... Chief Inspector Terry Rickards
Tom Georgeson ... Ryan Blaney
Tom Chadbon ... Miles Lessingham
Harry Burton ... Dr. Toby Gledhill
Suzan Crowley ... Hilary Robarts
Nicola Cowper ... Amy Camm
Robert Hines ... Neil Pascoe
Helena Michell ... Caroline Amphlett
Jamie Newell ... Jonathan Reeves (as Jamie Newall)
Lisa Ellis ... Theresa Blaney
Paul Hargreaves ... Neville Potter

1. Roy Marsden
Date of Birth: 25 June 1941 - Stepney, London, England, UK
Date of Death: Still Living

Special footnote, Roy Marsden is a British actor, who is probably best known for his portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in the Anglia Television dramatisations of P. D. James's detective novels.

Great job by Koch Vision --- looking forward to more high quality titles from the BBC Collection film market --- order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Vision where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- where they are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector.

Total Time: 310 mins on DVD ~ Koch Vision KOCV-6564 ~ (8/05/2008)"
Somewhat Disappointing
A viewer | Northern Michigan,USA | 08/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Unlike many other works of P D James,this one is slow moving,probably because
Dalgliesh is not in charge of the investigation.It is also somewhat unrealistic
(even for fiction),as 7 women have been murdered at night,and women are still
going outside alone after the sun sets. The discovery of the main murderer seems
to have occured with little police input (it's a wonder the local "cop" was
not superceeded by an outsider).The technical production is good,except I do
miss not having Closed Captioning (British sound/pronunciation takes some
careful listening at times. Also,a spell out of the character names would have
been helpful). All this said,this DVD set is worth viewing and my remarks should
be considered along with more positive ones,such as those of "Mr Jim"."
Five hours is a long time to spend with Commander Adam Dalgl
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 10/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"What to make of this mystery from the BBC that runs on (and on) for more than 300 minutes? In that time we have a terrorist plot against a nuclear facility on the coast of Norfolk; a serial killer called the Norfolk Whistler; a brother and sister relationship that is loyal to the point of, well, we won't go there; it's all our own nasty thinking anyway; a protest by a young activist against the nuclear plant because birds might be displaced; a copycat slaying that mimics the modus of the Whistler; and so much exposition the killer could die of old age before he'd be caught. There's also hanky panky in the grass, blackmail, government interference, family anger, unbridled ambition, all kinds of major relationship problems, wise old geezers and several glimpses of the uncovered breasts of female corpses. British necrophiliacs must be a big part of the BBC's audience.

In the middle is Commander Adam Dalgliesh (Roy Marsden), stern, moralistic and, in this story, nearly as passive as a muffin. He's taking a bit of time off from his job with the Metropolitan Police Service at New Scotland Yard. He's finished a new book of poetry and has come to stay in a converted lighthouse that he has inherited. Since he's on vacation and not the copper in charge of investigating the Whistler murders, he busies himself taking long walks, stumbling across corpses and meeting people. These include the attractive Meg Dennison (Susan George); the head of the nuclear plant, Dr. Alex Mair (James Faulkner); and Mair's sister, Alice (Gemma Jones). All are exceedingly well mannered, even when they're distraught. Dalgliesh knows the chief inspector in charge of the Whistler case, Terry Rickards (Tony Haygarth), who once worked for him. Naturally, Rickards is happy to have Dalgliesh accompany him on his visits to the corpses that keep turning up.

For the length of the program Dalgliesh quietly asks questions that seem to be designed to make others think of options, while never committing himself. The Whistler is eventually found and the copycat killer identified and dealt with, but Dalgliesh could just as well have been off on a walking tour in Wales for all that the story depends on him. In the other televised mysteries of P. D. James' Dalgliesh books, we have a man who is perhaps difficult to warm up to. He often seems to be evaluating people against his own standards and finding them wanting. Dalgliesh, when it gets down to murder, believes in moral absolutes, and says so. He also seems to prefer a nice hot cup of tea to a pint of ale. I can imagine what Morse would make of him. Dalgliesh, however, is redeemed because he deals with complex and often clever murders. He's calm, he's smart and he's relentless in going after a killer. With Devices and Desires, almost none of that is present. Dalgliesh is just an observer, as we are...even less of one, because we observe, which he doesn't, all the rationalizing, misunderstandings, avarice and impassioned do-gooding of the other characters. The creative team behind this adaptation forgot some basic rules of storytelling for television and the movies: Even if you have five hours to fill, be concise, keep exposition to the bare minimum, concentrate the themes and don't let your protagonist become dull. The crowning frustration is that Dalgliesh doesn't even solve anything.

On the plus side is the recollection of how good Roy Marsden can be as Dalgliesh when he's given murders to solve. Susan George does fine as a woman who just might or might not develop a relationship with the Commander. And more than anything else is the sterling performance of Gemma Jones. The character she plays is quiet, assured and complex, and is the most interesting in the story. Jones herself, simply because of her skill and empathy as an actress, in my view dominates the story every time she's on screen. To see Gemma Jones in full display of her powers, just watch her as Louisa Trotter in The Duchess of Duke Street - The Complete Collection. That's a production that makes 26 hours seem to flash by far more quickly than the five hours of Devices and Desires. But don't give up on Dalgliesh. There are DVD releases of nine other mysteries with Marsden in the role and two with Martin Shaw as the Commander.

And if you want to really enjoy a mystery where the detective isn't directly involved, read The Daughter of Time. That great mystery writer Josephine Tey puts Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant in hospital, immobile and bored to death. He comes across an illustration of the painting of Richard the Third that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. (It's the same one on my Amazon Profile Page.) Grant is intrigued by the disparity between Richard's gory reputation and the image of this thoughtful, rather sad-looking man. He decides to look into the deaths of the two princes in the Tower as a way to kill time. He winds up solving the case."
Pat Kulinowski | Phoenix, AZ | 08/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Enjoyed watching real actors at work. The pace of the storytelling allows for the development of the characters and the plot. There is nothing like a Brit mystery!"