What did you do in the war, Mummy?

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs

RESTLESS (Metrodrome). Once a spy, always a spy. Trust nobody. Paranoia continues long after World War 2 is over. The action alternates between the 1940s and the 1970s. William Boyd’s spy thriller, adapted for TV in two episodes, is at its best in the first episode. It gets less and less convincing the longer it goes on. The cast, however, is first-rate.  Hayley Atwell plays the spy when young. Charlotte Rampling plays her when she is old and convinced “they” are still coming to kill her. Rufus Sewell plays her wartime boss when young. Michael Gambon plays him in old age. Michele Dockery is cast as her daughter.

GIRLS WILL BE BOYS (Network). A wealthy misogynistic Duke (Cyril Maude) wants to leave his inheritance to a male. His granddaughter masquerades first as his grandson and then as his grandson pretending to be a girl. She quickly wins him over. Nobody could possibly think the German actress, Dolly Haas, was anything but a girl pretending to be a boy but she, Maude and Edward Chapman (as the Duke’s butler) know exactly how to play this silly 1934 farce. Pity it isn’t a musical. It could do with some more songs.

DULCIMA (Network). 1971 adaptation of H E Bates rural novel: a miserly, dirty and drunken Gloucestershire farmer is infatuated with a buxom girl (Carol White) at least 30 years his junior. She falls in love with a young gamekeeper, which is not good news for him. John Mills, unexpectedly cast, has one very real and frightening moment of rage; but is for the most part too comic a figure for the abrupt melodramatic climax which is straight out of a Victorian novel.

THE MAN WHO LOVED REDHEADS (Network). Womaniser (John Justin) falls in love with redheads all his life. Moira Shearer (former Royal Ballet star and straight from her success in The Red Shoes) plays them all. One of the girls is a ballerina which means she can dance an extract from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. The major surprise is that the bad screenplay was written by Terence Rattigan.

BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE (Odeon). An American multi-millionaire, not hit by the Depression, and married seven times, marries the impoverished daughter of a marquis who thinks she could be rich if she divorced him. You would have every reason to think that a 1936 Ernst Lubitsch comedy set on the French Riviera, with a script by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and a cast headed by Claudette Colbert, Gary Cooper, Edward Everett Horton and David Niven, would be witty. But you would be very wrong.  It’s not funny.

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