"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, October 14, 2019

Movie Review: Gosford Park (2001)

Hello, everyone!

My younger sister and I watched the series Downton Abbey (we started it in 2016 and just finished a few weeks ago. It takes us a long time.), which was written by Julian Fellows. Back in August my older sister and I decided to watch one of his first movies, which we've owned for a while. Definitely not one of my favorites, but it was fun to see so, so, so many actors that I recognized!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning.

Gosford Park (2001):
When a man invites family and friends over to go hunting, it seems to be a fun thing, but we find that everyone has a secret. Upstairs and downstairs clash and through it all we see all classes. The last night of the visit ends with an even bigger surprise: murder. Few people liked the murdered person, but did anyone have a strong enough motive?
Genre: Mystery, Period Drama.
Length: approx. 138 minutes.
Costumes: 6, there are some good outfits, but there are low things or people aren't wearing anything.
Script: 5, quite a few bad words.
'"You'll be providing a lot of entertainment for nothing."
"Morris, I'm used to it."'
Directed by: Robert Altman.
Written by: Julian Fellows.
Starring: (Remember that I mentioned a lot of actors? Well, here comes the list.)
Maggie Smith as Constance, Countess of Trentham.
Michael Gambon as Sir William McCordle.
Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Sylvia McCordle.
Camilla Rutherford as Isobel McCordle.
Charles Dance as Raymond, Lord Stockbridge.
Geraldine Somerville as Louisa, Lady Stockbridge.
Tom Hollander as Lt. Commander Anthony Meredith.
Natasha Wightman as Lady Lavinia Meredith.
James Wilby as Freddie Nesbitt.
Claudie Blakley as Mabel Nesbitt.
Jeremy Northam as Ivor Novello.
Bob Balaban as Morris Weissman.
Laurence Fox as Lord Rupert Standish.
Trent Ford as Jeremy Blond.
Kelly Macdonald as Mary Maceachran.
Clive Owen as Robert Parks.
Helen Mirren as Mrs Wilson.
Eileen Atkins as Mrs Croft.
Alan Bates as Mr Jennings.
Emily Watson as Elsie.
Derek Jacobi as Probert.
Ryan Phillippe as Henry Denton.
Richard E. Grant as George.
Jeremy Swift as Arthur.
Sophie Thompson as Dorothy.
Meg Wynn Owen as Lewis.
Adrian Scarborough as Barnes.
Stephen Fry as Inspector Thompson.
Ron Webster as Constable Dexter.
Cinematography: 7, there is a dark feel, but nothing really spectacular.
Cinematography by: Andrew Dunn.
Music: 8, I can't remember anything special for the score, so a neutral. BUT, the singing made me happy.
Music by: Patrick Doyle.
Quotes: 6, "I haven't a snobbish bone in my body."
Oscars won: 1: Best Original Screenplay. (It was nominated for Best Picture).
Storyline: 2, yikes. I believe this is the worst score I have given so far. There is a lot of smoking, drinking, and a lot of suggestive things, and that aren't just suggestive. If you are looking for a clean and fun mystery, don't watch this. (More later.)
Good For: Downton Abbey fans, mystery lovers.
Age Range: This movie is rated R. Definitely not for anyone under 16. 
Overall Score: 4.5.
Bonus thoughts:
I know that this movie won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (good for them!), but if you watch enough of one person's films or read enough of their books, you start to understand how their mind works. Some people like Agatha Christie, you think that you understand her system, but then she completely surprises you! As I said, I have watched all of Downton Abbey (well, not the new movie), and because of that I completely guessed the mystery. Sometimes I can guess the correct person but not the motive, but I had both this time. My older sister hasn't watched Downton Abbey and she was thoroughly surprised, though. It was fun to watch it with her and to see all of the famous people in it. The absolute best thing about this movie was hearing Jeremy Northam sing, it was worth watching it just for that!

I watched this back in August for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society's (PEPS) #AMonthWithoutTheCode65!. This weekend they have been hosting their Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon, and I thought this would be the perfect time to review it! I have seen them host this the last two years, but I couldn't come up with anything to do, so I am very excited to participate in this for the first time.
I actually reviewed this for their last blogathon!
PEPS specializes in all things about the Motion Picture Production Code that was in place from 1934-1954. The purpose of the Code was to make decent movies that anyone could watch. To learn more about the Code, click HERE! But, what is "Breening"? Joseph Breen was the man who put the Code into place, and PEPS will "breen" movies, which means that they will take a movie and say what would have needed to be taken out to have it acceptable under Mr. Breen's admistration. (Here is a list of movies that the writers at PEPS have "breened").

For this blogathon, they invited anyone to join them by "breening" a movie. With that all explained, I will now attempt to breen Gosford Park! One observation first: As I said, the Code was in place from 1934-1954, and Hollywood is infamous for the fact that the movies before the Code were scandalous and risque. This film is set in 1932, so in that time period. Would things have been better if it was set in a different year, or in was filmed in the Code Era? Let's find out!

SPOILER ALERT! From now on I will be going into a lot of details from the movie, so if you want to watch this movie and be surprised by the mystery, don't read any further!

I did a bit of research on this movie to see what the main theme/point of this movie is (it wasn't obvious to me!) to make sure that I kept that intact. What I found was how dependant the upper classes were on servants.

A big thing is consequences. A crime was committed, but what are the consequences? Through out the movie we see different things taking place. At first I thought that there were no consequences, but while  I was writing this, my older sister and I talked about it and I actually realized that there are some.
The mystery is this: Sir William McCordle was stabbed by Mr. Parks, who was his illegitimate son that he didn't know he had. It is found out later that by lack of blood, Sir William was already dead when he was stabbed. It turns out that Mrs. Wilson, who was Mr. Park's mother that he didn't know, realizing that he was her son and knowing his motive, she poisoned Sir William.
In this movie the case goes unsolved and no one is ever arrested for murder.

Doesn't sound like there are consequences, right? But, through out the film we see Mr. Parks growing to love Mary, maid to Countess of Trentham, and then she was the one who found out that he was the murderer. Mr. Parks, as a consequence, never gets to be with her. Well, this isn't really touched upon in the movie, but I think that for breening purposes we would highlight it more.

What about Mrs. Wilson? She poisoned Sir William to save Mr. Parks from being arrested, but she also saved Sir William from being brutally and painfully killed by his son. I think that in our breened version Mrs. Wilson would turn herself in with a feeling of remorse. When Mr. Parks learns this, he vows to make his life better.

As I said in my review there are a ton of suggestive, and more than suggestive things. In order for this to have been a Code movie, we are going to have to take out most of this. Sadly, most of it is related to the storyline.
The easiest one to take out is an affair between a maid and one of the guests. No need for it at all.
The biggest thing that needs to be removed is the interaction between Lady Sylvia and Henry Denton. Mr. Denton is valet to Morris Weissman, and is (as I say) a horrible person and (as my sister says) an ectothermal invertebrate [cold blooded and spineless]. We learn at the end of the movie that he is really an actor who was doing what he calls "research" for a movie, which is probably the most vulgar thing I've ever heard. He tries to get every girl in the house to love him and even forcibly tries to kiss some of them. This is part of the story to show that some like Lady Sylvia are easily fooled and taken advantage of, while others, like Mary and Elsie, are smart and have nothing to do with him. To breen this, I would say that it would be better to just mildly suggest these things, instead of showing us. I know that people usually say "Show, don't tell", but in these cases we would all be much happier if they would just tell, not show.
One of the guests is trying to get Lady Isobel to give him money, and threatens to blackmail her. It is very suggestive and could be taken out.
Sir William's past is more than suggestive. The consequence was that he was murdered, but we understand that that is wrong because no one deserves to die. Besides the basic storyline (which is kind of impossible to breen) anything else suggestive should be removed.

There are also a lot of bad words, and some low costumes.

This is my first time trying this, so I am sure that I have missed a lot of the smaller details, but I have covered all of the important plot lines. Breening is really hard. I am very impressed by the Brannans who do this almost every week!

Sorry for the lack of photos, I am exhausted from typing, but I'll put some in when I have the time.

Thank you so much for reading! Let me know what you like about this movie if you've seen it.



  1. What a great article! Congratulations on your first breening project! You did a great job! You have a very thorough understanding of the Code and its workings. This is one of the best guest breening articles I have ever read. Yes, breening is hard work! Some movies are harder than others. At first it is really exhausting, but eventually you can get into a groove. Then it is really fun! Thank you for contributing to the blogathon with your review of this fascinating mystery! If you ever feel like breening another film, send me the link, and I will advertise it on our blog!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    1. Thank you so much, Tiffany! Your articles have taught me a lot about the Code. I'm so glad that you approve of my breening! I know that I missed a lot of smaller details because I was focusing on the main storyline, but it would be fun to breen another movie some time in more detail. I'll let you know if I do! Thank you for hosting this blogathon!

  2. Great review! I've never heard of this movie but the ratings of movies interests me...especially how they are not rated well. It really bothers me that a PG-13 movie can be completely as suggestive as nearly a rated R and then another PG-13 have no sexual content and little violence and STILL be rated as PG-13. The system basically has no system...
    Rant over.
    Great review! ;)

    1. Thank you! Yes, I totally agree with you! People are astonished when I tell them I've been watching certain PG-13 movies for as long as I can remember, but they are only rated that way for a lot of action. Two of the worst movies that I've seen (based on the content), were both rated PG! What?! I hope that one day they will finally be more organized.
      Thanks for your comment, Kara! :)


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles