18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Chequered Lives In The White Hills,
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This review is from: White Mischief [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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. No Regrets and Ermine Tales) sent a famous telegram to Delves-Broughton after the trial, using racing terminology: "Won by a neck, cleverly." ! That signal is now framed in the bar of White's Club in St. James', London.
I can recommend this film to anyone. Greatly entertaining, never boring and, if the ending is slightly anti-climactic, well...that is true to history. Like the society it shows, the film slightly peters out, but is not much the worse for that. The locations are great, the acting perfect.