The Shooting Party 1985


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(43) IMDb 7/10

Period drama based on the novel by Isobel Colegate, starring James Mason as Sir Randolph Nettleby, who invites a small party of aristocrats to a shooting party at his country estate. The year is 1913, and the country is poised on the brink of the Great War - but these privileged elite carry on with their shooting, dining, gossiping and discreet entanglements as the only way of life they know. However, their lifestyle is under threat - both from within their immediate circles and from society as a whole - and the film ends on a tragic and poignant note.

Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin
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Product Details

  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 33 minutes
Starring Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin, Robert Hardy, James Mason, John Gielgud
Director Alan Bridges
Genres Drama
Rental release 9 October 2006
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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167 of 170 people found the following review helpful By tweed-jacket on 12 Oct 2006
Format: DVD
This film was previously unknown to me. It is a high quality historical drama, and deserves to be better known. It's a subtle, gently paced film, which conveys much in only an hour and a half.

The film depicts a country house weekend shooting party, in the autumn of 1913. It explores some of the tensions that existed in British society in the run up to World War I. The personal relationships between the upper class characters are interesting, and provide rich sub-plots. The film also illustrates the strong bond of respect that existed between the rural working class and the landed gentry.

One wonderful aspect of the film is the mature cast. James Mason, Dorothy Tutin, John Gielgud, Edward Fox, Gordon Jackson and Frank Windsor all radiate effortless charisma. They are true character actors, and are totally absorbing.

I won't spoil the plot by describing the full story but to give you a flavour of the film, one of the sub-plots involves Judi Bowker and Robert Hardy, as a married couple who seem to have a strong affection and respect for each other, yet are distanced by their age gap and differing intellects. A meeting of minds sees Bowker become drawn to Rupert Frazer, and they embark on a passionate, but non-physical, affair. It is interesting to watch this slowly unfold, and the fact it doesn't end happily adds emotion to the film's conclusion.

The line of guns, onto which birds are systematically herded to their death, is a simile of the impending Great War, where the youth of both sides would walk forward only to be shot to pieces by machine gun and artillery.

Further pathos is added by the unnecessary competition between two guns, Edward Fox and Rupert Frazer, leading to the death of one of the beaters.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Sep 2005
Format: DVD
Set in the autumn of 1913, just before the outbreak of World War I, this stunning film captures the last days of a way of life--the English country life of large estates, shooting parties, and aristocratic leisure--all of which will be swept away with the war and the subsequent industrialization of the country. Director Alan Bridges emphasizes this theme symbolically in the opening scenes of this 1985 film, as a litter is borne across a field against a backdrop of brilliant autumn foliage.
A lively cast of characters has been invited to Sir Randolph Nettleby's 1000-acre park for a weekend shoot, and as the characters converse, interact, and dally romantically, the reader learns the details of their "civilized" lives, their attitudes and prejudices, and their understanding of their code of behavior. James Mason stars in his final film role as Sir Randolph, a man who loves his aristocratic obligations as host, but who also enjoys associating with some of the locals who live around his estate. Tom Harker, wonderfully played by Gordon Jackson, is a beater and also a poacher, with whom Sir Randolph has a tacit understanding and friendly relationship.
Sir John Gielgud playing an activist who opposes blood-sports has only a small role, but his confrontation with Sir Randolph (Mason), following his attempt to interrupt the shoot, becomes one of the most memorable scenes in filmdom--two greats at the peak of their powers. Personal rivalries develop among several of the guests, who adhere to the "correct" etiquette of their class even as they deal with injuries to their pride--a nicety of behavior that will soon vanish with war.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Aug 2007
Format: DVD
The Shooting Party shows the decline of the British aristocracy (and why they became irrelevant) through the story device of a weekend of country shooting and the relationships among the manor head (James Mason), those he has invited, those who are retainers on his estate, and those protesting the shoot.

Mason is absolutely superb. He was a subtle actor who made some awful role choices in his career. This was one of his great roles. In the Shooting Party, he embodies the sadness of the loss of values he treasures as well as an understanding of why these values are being lost.

The BBC Video's release of the film does the the movie justice. The picture is just a little soft, but the colors are rich and the transfer has clarity. The audio is excellent.

Whatever you do, don't buy the version from Jef Films, For all practical purposes, it is unwatchable. The Jef release looks and sounds as if it had been made from a fifth generation home recorded video tape, and might well have been. Color is faded, the images are out of focus, the sound is variable and unpleasant. Unfortunately, it can still be found as a Region 1 DVD and may be out as a Region 2..
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pearce on 5 Jun 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
England 1913.Over a long weekend Lord Nettleby(James Mason)entertains various members of the aristocracy at his country home where the men indulge in the shooting competition and the women gently gossip about marriages ,potential marriages and debt.
Exquisite rendering of Isobel Colegate's dazzling book has memorable performances(James Mason and Dorothy Tutin in particular), a beautifully judged script from Julien Bond which allows so many characters(from the peasantry to the gentry)to be fully developed thus allowing themes such as the seriousness of the disintegration of rural life and concerns about a forthcoming" conflict" to be interwoven into the narrative from multiple perspectives.
Wonderful period detail and John Scott's subtle score add finesse to this lovely film.Only an obviously limited budget and a slightly abrupt ending detract from an even more profound study of Edwardian mores.
The documentary is affectionately done with the reminder of exactly who was meant to have been playing Lord Nettleby but did not complete the first day of shooting.
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