White Mischief 1987

Amazon Instant Video

(67) IMDb 6.3/10

If there was a paradise untouched by the war in the winter of 1940, it was Kenya's Happy Valley. There the tall, blond and impeccably groomed Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Errol, enjoyed a decadent life of pleasure with his fellow aristocrats.

Starring:
Greta Scacchi,Charles Dance
Runtime:
1 hour, 43 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

White Mischief

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Crime, Romance
Director Michael Radford
Starring Greta Scacchi, Charles Dance
Supporting actors Joss Ackland, Sarah Miles
Studio Sony Pictures International
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD
One of my favourites but almost inaccessible - not currently for sale as a DVD and to my knowledge never shown on UK TV since 2001 - yet this is a classic, a first rate production that qualifies for cult status. This gorgeously filmed tale of a colony of hedonistic British upper-class expatriates near Nairobi in the 1940s continues to resonate with me after many years and many other films.

Based on James Fox's novel of the same name and subtly directed by Michael Radford, these shallow, self-absorbed residents of "Happy Valley" pursued a debauched search for pleasure through sex, drugs, alcohol, cross-dressing soirees, spouse-swapping get-togethers, and even a cocktail reception in a cemetery.

The primary focus is based on a triangular relationship that actually occurred between cynical, selfish, young and beautiful Diana Caldwell Broughton (Greta Scacchi), her betrayed, elderly husband Sir John Delves Broughton (Joss Ackland), and amoral Josslyn Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll (Charles Dance). When the Earl is found shot to death, Sir John is the obvious suspect because of the flaunted affair between the Earl and Diana. He is brought to trial but several other men - and women - share the same motive; in real life, the murder was never solved and a later book, on Lord Erroll by Trzebinski, claims the Earl was executed because he was a spy.

This is fascinating and compelling viewing. Stars and supporting cast (notably John Hurt, Sarah Miles, Trevor Howard, and Geraldine Chaplin) are all outstanding. Greta Scacchi is never again quite as luminously beautiful as in this steamy, sordid African mystery. Sumptuously filmed on location by Roger Deakins, the film vividly contrasts raw and wild nature with the decadence of Happy Valley's dissolute aristocrats.

The story is gripping, the acting superb, the sets are marvelous, the scenery magnificent, both Greta Scacchi and Charles Dance are gorgeous - this is a fascinating and compelling film.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Dec. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In 1941 Kenya, a group of jaded and decadent British expatriates indulge in orgies, casual adulterous affairs as well as drugs. But when of their own (Charles Dance) is found murdered and the husband (Joss Ackland) of the deceased's mistress (Greta Scacchi) is arrested for the murder, even the decadent community is shocked. Based on an actual incident known as the Happy Valley murder case, Michael Radford's (IL POSTINO) film is a wry look at the casual moral rot of a dying colonialist society. There's no one to empathize with, not even the murder victim which distances us from the proceedings so that we're merely observers, nothing more. Visually, the film gets everything right but it's just not a film one can warm to. Scacchi looks terrific but her character is too ambiguous to make much sense of while Ackland and Dance aren't interesting enough to make us care. Fortunately, the supporting performances pick up the slack, especially Sarah Miles as a drug addled whack job who attends cocktail parties with a snake draped around her and has the film's best lines. Also with Trevor Howard, Geraldine Chaplin, Hugh Grant, John Hurt, Ray McAnally, Murray Head, Jacqueline Pearce and Susan Fleetwood.

The Sony DVD is a nice anamorphic wide screen (1.85) transfer with optional English subtitles and features a making of documentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Oct. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie is great.
However, for those expecting a reasonable quality DVD you will be disappointed. The sound quality is poor and the movie looks as if it was shot through a net curtain - more like a camcorder ‘rip’ from the back row of the local flea pit.
This seems to be a recurring problem as other DVD’s I’ve bought from the BBC (Gormenghast was of remarkably awful quality), and from “4”, have repeatedly failed to be of an acceptable standard.

If you can grin and bear the woeful recording quality, and still enjoy the wonderful story and acting in this movie, it’s worth a couple of quid – but I’d rather have seen it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Having such a poor quality DVD in my collection is like having a cuckoo in the nest.
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By G. Feldwick on 9 Nov. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great film, but I'm really confused as to why it's not readily available as an English release! Its worth the effort to seek it out, as well as the few seconds it takes to remove the Dutch subtitles. it's a fascinating (true) story, putting into context the lavish lifestyle that the English enjoyed in Kenya in the 1930's. From what I understand, those who did take the leap and move to the 'colonies' were looked down upon by respectable society at the time, but they certainly made up for their lack of home-front acceptance! Sarah Miles is wonderful, deliciously decadent, and there's a scene with her in this film that will stay with you forever! A young Hugh Grant makes a brief appearance, and the marvellous Charles Dance and Greta Scacchi, not to mention Joss Ackland round off a superb cast. Only one complaint - why is this in awful 4:3 pan and scan and not 16:9, the film was not made this way. But it's a small gripe, as otherwise you simply don't get to see it. And life is full of compromise!
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ian Millard on 18 Mar. 2008
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Having known a lady who was in Kenya from 1943 (3 years after the events on which this film is based) and having an English wife born in British East Africa a dozen years later, White Mischief was of huge interest to me quite apart from its intrinsic merit.

Jock Delves-Broughton (Joss Ackland) is in financial trouble and has left 1940 England with creditors pressing (not surprising: he spent up to £120,000 annually, equivalent to perhaps £5 million or even £10 million today!). He buys a place near Nairobi and settles with his much younger and very beautiful (especially but not only when unclothed) wife Diana (Greta Scacchi). She has been "bought" by him in return for an allowance of £80,000 annually, for 7 years. She, however, falls in love with the dissolute local landowner and part-time (it seems!) officer Errol (Earl of) (Charles Dance). They wish to marry. Jock pretends to agree, then suddently, Errol is found shot in the head on a country road. Delves-Broughton is tried for murder and acquitted. The plot reaches its denouement from there.

There is too much of an attempt to mix this story with the admittedly connected tale of the wifeswappers of "Happy Valley", a set based in a glen in the Aberdare Mountains, where fornication, adultery, drinking and some drug-taking took place in the 1930's and early 1940's. Although the middle and upper ranks of white settler society did contain a higher proportion of louche characters (remittance-men, the idle rich, war-evaders, more or less available women etc) than might have been the case back in England, the Happy Valley set was always a small minority.

Although not mentioned in the film, the Earl of Carnarvon (cf.
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