The Charmer - The Complete Series  [DVD]
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Ralph Gorse (Nigel Havers) lives off his looks, seducing wealthy women and swindling them out of their cash. After taking Joan Plumleigh-Bruce (Rosemary Leach) for £1000, Ralph heads for Brighton, hotly pursued by Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce's vengeful would-be beau, Mr Stimpson (Bernard Hepton). After frittering the money away Ralph returns to his old job as a car salesman, only to get the boss's daughter pregnant and be forced into marriage. When a money-making insurance scam goes awry, it seems that the charming Ralph is finally going to get his just desserts.
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Top Customer Reviews
Memory sometimes plays tricks with TV programmes – we become a little starry-eyed about them, and when we get the chance to see them once more, we can be quite disappointed.
But not this time. The Charmer, for want of a better phrase, certainly retains its charm. And let's not forget – it was also quite brutal, with Nigel Havers playing that nasty but suave character, Ralph Gorse.
Wonderful performances, also, from Rosemary Leach and Fiona Fullerton, who are both captivated by the smooth-talking conman, and from Bernard Hepton, who soon sees through the deceit.
The series also delightfully and convincingly recreates the era in which it is set.
A shame, though, that the DVD release contains no extras – an interview with the leading actors recalling their involvement with the six-part series would have added a nice touch.
The Charmer is based on the book Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse by Patrick Hamilton, whose work also includes the stage play Rope which Alfred Hitchcock was to later make into a film.
Hamilton was born in March 1904, and it's sad that in this, the centenary year of his birth, the DVD fails to contain a profile or tribute to this largely forgotten, and certainly under-rated, author.
Gorse (Nigel Havers) is a charming English con man in the early Thirties. He lives by his amoral wits, seducing, enticing and working the side deals. He wants everything he isn't and everything he hasn't. Eventually he works his way up to murder. The Charmer, a wonderful Masterpiece Theater presentation now twenty years old, maintains every bit of its queasy allure, thanks in large part to Havers, to Rosemary Leach and to Bernard Hepton. Leach plays Joan Plumleigh-Bruce, a somewhat frumpy upper-middle class, snobbish Englishwoman, a widow who attracts Gorse's attention because of her property and her income. Hepton plays Donald Stimpson, a man who wears round, thick eyeglasses, has a rather silly mustache and is a property broker. He is a long-time friend and wooer of Joan, and he also fancies a marriage to her, to her income and to her property. The idea of a regular bit of the old bed springs is attractive to Stimpson, too. When Gorse meets Donald and, through him, Joan, the main pieces in this sly, malicious and self-serving game come into play.
In the course of this six-part series we will watch Gorse woo and manipulate, empty bank accounts, impregnate, cause a fire with fatal results, seduce, and murder. Following his trail like a middle-aged, self-serving angel of retribution is Donald. And Donald pulls along in his wake Joan, a woman who knows she was had and scorned, who still loves her Rafe but has Donald whispering to her that Rafe must be held accountable.Read more ›
The contrast of the more twee and civilised mannerisms of Gorse's first victim Joan Plumleigh-Bruce (played wonderfully by Rosemary Leach) and her confidant Donald Stimpson (played equally well by Bernard Hepton) provide a nice contrast to the murkier depths that Gorse goes to in order to provide a means of support to Clarice. The tug of war between Plumleigh Bruce's forgiveness and Stimpson's suspicion tied in with Gorse's increased desperation makes this a fascinating series with a dramatic conclusion in which ultimately everyone's a loser.
I enjoyed this immensely at the time, and was willing to catch up with it again some 20 or so years later and enjoyed it as much, if not more. If it was made by ITV today they would try and squeeze it into a 2 hour special on a Sunday night, so one should appreciate the depth and quality that went into this production. Worth a look.
Nigel Havers, Bernard Hepton and Rosemary Leach are the intertwined trio in middle class 1939 southern England.
Havers is the superficially suave psychopathic "Charmer" of the title who gets his hooks into middle-aged, wealthy widow Leach. Hepton is the "cuckolded" self-made, successful local businessman consumed by jealousy who turns into Nemesis.
All three of these talented performers are on top form closely followed by an excellent supporting cast which includes George Baker and Judy Parfitt.
Whether you remember this highly entertaining series or not it has certainly stood the test of time and is well worth watching.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was so pleased I managed to get a copy of The Charmer. It's never shown on TV nowadays. I can watch it whenever I like now.Published 4 months ago by Sand North Somerset
Fabulous. Great performances from a great cast. Rosemary Leach in particular is wonderful.Published 12 months ago by Ms Pauline Gallagher
It's a DVD, which I chose, it either works or doesn't. It worked.Published 13 months ago by mr g griffiths